Last Wednesday night, I woke up with a little tickle in my chest, coupled with the feeling of 2,000 pounds on top of me. As I wrestled with going back to sleep, I heard several little coughs echoing down the hallway from the kids’ rooms.
I’m sure many of you can relate to the sinking feeling that happens when you realize the next few days of your life will be consumed with wiping noses, dispensing medicine and dealing with crankiness. Sigh.
When morning came, I took every conceivable medicine and miserably dragged myself down the hall. Sure enough, all three kids were sick too. It was hard to imagine the day ahead.
So what did we do? We all grabbed a pillow and blanket and positioned ourselves in the living room for a rare morning of movie watching. The kids took turns snuggling with me. I comforted them by rubbing their heads. Every half hour or so, I asked them how they were feeling. I quickly caught dripping noses with a wad of prepared tissues. I kissed their foreheads. I allowed us to all lie around and watch TV for 3 hours…something that never happens.
This may sound like a pretty normal scene given the circumstances. But, I have to admit, I’m not much of a nurturer by nature. If the kids were sick and I was not, it would have played out differently. I probably would have positioned them on the couch with a stuffed animal and worked in the kitchen or on my computer while they relaxed, periodically checking in on them to see if they needed anything.
Everything was different because I was in the same boat. Being right there with them in our mutually sick state gave me an empathy which completely transformed how I related to them. Since I was feeling what they were feeling, I was fundamentally more attentive to their needs.
Somewhere in between sneezing sessions, it occurred to me how different my parenting might be if I truly grasped and acknowledged that I’m in the same boat of sinfulness as my kids. I fully believe that parents need to be leaders and role models, but sometimes we take on the role of “sin authority” at the expense of remembering it’s still a bit of the “blind leading the blind.”
I don’t scream when I don’t want to share something, but I can be very greedy in other non-audible ways. I’m a sinner just like they are.
I don’t push people when I get angry, but I am quick to raise my voice and use condescending words. I’m a sinner just like they are.
I don’t jump up and down when I get impatient, but…well…actually, I do. I’m a sinner just like they are.
Parents may be more spiritually mature and have more life perspective, but an awareness that we’re “in this together” with our kids can change a lot.
It gives us more grace. Because I was sick, I hardly batted an eye at whining driven by cold-induced fatigue. I wanted to whine myself. I got it, and I extended more grace. Maybe I shouldn’t be so quick to issue a consequence for every small sin.
It gives us a willingness to meet them right where they need to be met spiritually. Because I was sick, it seemed only natural that I would lie on the floor right next to them to provide the comfort that doesn’t come from seeing a mommy across the room organizing pans. Maybe I need to make it more clear that there is no distance between their sin nature and mine.
It gives us more humility. Because I was sick, I didn’t look at their snotty little noses and think, “yuck.” I expected the “yuck,” and was prepared to help them. Maybe I need to be less appalled by the nature of their sins and more appalled by the nature of mine.
How about you? Do you relate to feeling like you’re playing the role of a “sin authority” some days, and other days realizing that you’re not much different than your kids?