I am pushing the stroller, my feet heavy in their flip-flops, every part of me aching and tired and cranky and ready for bed. They are full of vibrant life, bursting with energy and joy and excitement to rival my own weariness, running down the hill with the wind in their faces, laughing.
I watch them and I remember not so long ago when they held my hand to walk, when they needed my presence to steady their wobbly legs and unsure footsteps.
They are playing games in the grass along the sidewalk– shouting to each other– arguing– working it out– falling down and rolling with the fun and thrill of it all. Cooped up all day, they don’t mind the humidity that has me basting in my own juices. They are far ahead, just two little bodies in blue t-shirts, one head bleached white blonde from the sun, the other the light brown I see in pictures of myself from many years ago.
I am still trudging my way down the hill, watching them, amazed at their vitality, at the wonder and life that just seems to emanate from them.
They are such good kids. I yell down the hill to stop– they have gone far enough and are near a street. Now they must wait for their slow, plodding, grumpy mother. As I walk I think of the things I have said to them tonight, of the tone of voice, the frustration, the words I should have left unsaid. I hear myself barking orders, fussing at them to hurry up, oozing sarcasm at another silly question.
It’s been a hard day. I feel spent and exhausted and irritable. Naughty children at work, clueless coworkers, money stresses, arthritis aches and pains, the laundry and dishes and messes and questions and to-do lists and– I have an excuse for my behavior, for my crankiness. Anyone would be cranky after a day like this.
I am lying to myself, and I know the truth. The truth is that He giveth more grace when the burdens grow greater, and that I have been choosing to ignore the grace He has set before me. I have chosen to wallow in self-pity and bring my sweet, bright, amazing boys down into the mire with me.
I have finally caught up with them. They are sitting in the grass near the sidewalk, watching me come slowly down the hill. They are all sweetness and light and they are so cute and funny and incredible. I smile to see them sitting there, patient, trustworthy, just waiting for Mommy.
We cross the street and they have made it up onto the porch before I have even gotten to the driveway. One holds the door open for me and the baby as the other brings the diaper bag into the house. I shake up a bottle as they rattle around the house, taking off shoes, putting on pajamas, finding all the little soft things they simply must take to bed with them. We pile onto the bed, I with the baby in my arms, they with books to read.
That Sam-I-Am I intone in my best silly voice and we laugh about the ham and the eggs and the fox and the train and the mouse. They try to convince me to let them sleep in my bed and I am not swayed. We hug and kiss and cuddle and tuck and the light is out and the baby is in bed and here I am.
And as I sit here typing I am humbled by these children that God has given to me, in spite of my short temper and my selfishness and my many failings. They are so good and forgiving and full of love even when I am hateful to them.
I determine in my heart that I will drink more deeply each day from the fountain of grace overflowing for me, so that at the end of the day, when the last hill seems such an insurmountable obstacle and there are still questions to answer and diapers to change and books to read, I will not be spent.
I will have yet more grace to give, because He has given me all I need and more.
The fountain of grace waits for you too. Come and drink deeply. It never runs dry.