A Mother’s Grace
by Shawnelle Eliasen Posted in Family, May 7, www.guideposts.org
I don’t know when I’d experienced such love. When I think back, I can still remember the quiet of darkness broken by our voices, the delicious goodness of having my mom all to myself.
When I look back, I understand that I’d been awful to my mother all afternoon. Somewhere in the years that followed, I learned a term for what had happened that day. Misplaced anger. I’d taken all the hurt and frustration from my junior high day and hurled them at my mom.
It had been, by 12-year-old girl standards, a brutal day. My best friend Mary ditched me at lunchtime to hang with a cool girl. In P.E. class, we were lined up and forced to square dance with a member of the opposite sex. My assigned partner balked at my nervous, wet palms and, for the rest of the morning, called me “Trout.” We’d had a history test in homeroom, and though I’d studied, my memory bank was plum empty for facts on the French and Indian War.
And I had to ride the bus home.
Perfectly terrible. Every ounce of it.
“Hey, how was your day?” chirped Mom as I walked through the front door and dropped my backpack. She smiled and went back to tying my little sister’s shoe. “There are cookies on the counter.”
I sulked my way to the kitchen to find peanut butter cookies. The kind that were crisscrossed with the tines of a fork.
“Geesh, Mom,” I’d said. “Couldn’t you have made chocolate chip?”
Later in the evening, when Mom pulled baked chicken from the oven, I’d complained, too. Dad was working the three-to-eleven shift, and sometimes when he worked we had something simple like pizza. “Chicken and vegetables,” I’d growled. “Why can’t we ever have anything good?”
My surliness continued. Mom had been patient. Kind. But by the time bedtime rolled around, she and I had a shouting match in our long, dark hall. I still remember her pink toes poking out from under her blue bathrobe. Her hair was swept back in a ponytail and anger flushed her freckled face.
“I think you’d better get to bed,” she’d said. “You can start again tomorrow. But I’m telling you, I’ll be talking with your father tonight.
I’d trounced off, bare feet slapping linoleum, and flopped on my bed. After a long while, I slipped under the covers, but I couldn’t sleep. Something unexpected met me in the darkness.
Why had I treated Mom like that? If I had only been willing to share, she would’ve pulled a chair close, looked into my eyes and listened. But instead I’d let her become my verbal punching bag. Surely a hefty consequence would follow.
Sleep didn’t come, and somewhere near midnight I heard a creak in the hallway. Was it Dad coming to talk with me? By then, remorse had brought a gentle flow of tears. I wiped them away in the darkness, but before long the door opened and my room was filled with soft light.
It was Mom.
She sat on my bed and leaned close. “Why don’t you come down to the kitchen?” she said. Her voice was a whisper and a tendril of her long, blond hair brushed over my cheek.
I pulled my robe from the back of my desk chair and followed her down the long hall. And what I found in the kitchen is something I’d never forget.
A table for two.
Two burgers sizzled on the griddle, newly covered with thick slices of cheese. Two milkshakes in tall, frosty glasses.
I stood, amazed, while Mom pulled a cookie sheet of fries from the oven.
I deserved a consequence. A punishment.
But Mom met me with grace.
“I’m so sorry,” I said. “Please forgive me.”
“I will,” she said. “I love you, Shawnie. I understand what it’s like to be in between a woman and a girl. It can be a tough place.” She held me close. I cried cleansing tears. After a few minutes, Mom and I sat down.
We talked half the night, sharing cheeseburgers, sharing fries, and sharing hearts.
I don’t know when I’d experienced such love. When I think back, I can still remember the quiet of darkness broken by our voices, the delicious goodness of having my mom all to myself, the way her green eyes met mine with compassion and forgiveness.
I don’t think there’s a thing in the world like the capacity of a parent to love a child.
Does it remind you, a little, of the Lord’s kind of love?