Today was one of "those" days for Cal Henry.
It started off OK I guess, but when his afternoon nap ended about an hour and a half too early, things started to get messy. There was crying, whining, tears, angry words - you name it (Oh, I am talking about Cal, not me...well, at first anyway...). By four o'clock, it became one of those "Hide-the-duct-tape-because-mama-isn't-afraid-to-use-it" days, and we reached critical mass about fifteen minutes before bedtime when we peaked at a "Hide-the-spoons-so-mama-doesn't-claw-her-own-eyes-out" evening. Suffice it to say, it was not one of Cal's best days.
By the time I got Cal Henry in bed (as an aside, I did find an upside - it is much easier to clean his back teeth while he is at a full out wail), I just wanted to cover him up and walk away and try again tomorrow. I love my child, but some days are just...hard.
As he sat sniffling in bed and whining, I took a minute to really, really look at him. The child was a mess. His face was red with frustration, his eyes were narrow and glaring, and very grumpy words came out of his frowning mouth. But then I saw something that struck me deeply. Even though all the rest of his body language was communicating anger with me, he still held out his little hands towards me for a hug.
I realized at that moment that when we are at our most unlovable, the only real cure is for someone to come and love on us.
I don't believe in rewarding bad behavior (and oh, we saw some tonight), but I do believe that after facing consequences all day what Cal really needed right then was restoration. And so after a little talk, Cal Henry crawled up in my lap and rested his head on my shoulder and we sang the hymn "I Come to the Garden Alone" together. And then we just snuggled quietly together for several minutes. His tears were dried, his words became gentle, and he laid his head on his pillow, took a deep breath, and closed his eyes for the night.
Let's face it - at one time or another we all are a bit unlovable. But as I look at my life, I feel so blessed because I have people who, in my darkest times and worst days, still love me. Through this year of illness and frustration, my sweet husband has continued to show me love even when I was too tired to appreciate it. My friends haven't allowed me to push them away when my discouragement would get a hold on me. And although I fall short of even my own expectations every day, my Jesus continues to love and restore me.
I hope I remember this night through the parenting years that loom ahead. I hope Cal Henry has a better day tomorrow. I hope I never find that roll of duct tape. But most of all, I hope I remember to love the people in my life even when they seem unlovable.