Today the kids helped me wash down our patio and driveway. (Don't call the water police. Sometimes sweeping just isn't enough.) James' job was to use a push broom to push all the water and leaves that get stuck along the side of the driveway into the street. He thinks it is great fun.
I left him outside to finish up while I took Lilly and William in for a bath. When I called James inside, he asked me to come look at something first.
"I have a surprise for you," he said, with a song in his voice.
"Oh, what is it?" I asked.
He pointed at the kitchen windows. "I washed the windows for you."
With a wet, dirty broom.
The very same windows that Aaron washed last weekend.
"Oh James, that was so thoughtful of you. What a kind thing to do. I love you, sweetheart."
Of course I also had to tell him to never clean our windows with a broom again, because our tissue paper windows break if you shut them too hard. Or wash them roughly with a broom.
You know, I could have been irritated. I could have yelled, "James! What were you thinking?"
But I didn't. I am learning.
I am learning to look at my children's hearts, before I look at their actions.
Do you remember this? One morning last week I was exhausted by 8:30 am. I had been up very early with Lilly. When she went down for an extra early nap, I told the boys I was going to lay on the couch for 20 minutes and rest. They were to play quietly in the schoolroom, dining room or kitchen.
I fell fast asleep.
It seemed like only a minute later I felt someone breathing on me. I opened my eyes, and there, 1 inch from my face, was James.
"Mommy," he whispered. "We made you a feast."
All I wanted to do was keep sleeping. But they had a spread laid out for me that they were so proud of. 2 bowls FULL of nuts. Crackers. Grapes. 3 cups of ice cold water. And 3 kinds of candy so I could choose the one I liked best: candy corn, a mint or chocolate.
"See Mommy, now we can all have a snack and you don't even have to make it for us."
"We knew you needed a break Mommy."
I really could have been irritated this time. Don't you know you never wake up a sleeping Mommy unless there is poop, barf or the house is on fire?
But I didn't. In the best way they knew how, those 2 boys were taking care of their Momma. What sweet, giving hearts they have.
So many times I miss the heart of the matter. I miss what matters all together. It is very easy to focus on a child freaking out, crying or arguing with a sibling. But I find that if I stop and get at what is going on in their hearts, the outward behavior is quickly changed. Most of the time there is a reason for their behavior, and it isn't just "they're tired".
My prayer is that I would be as gentle and careful with their hearts, as God is with mine.