It started off as a lovely morning. Until.
Isn’t that the way it always goes?
Until the baby smeared yogurt all over his third outfit of the morning. Until the preschooler dawdled away all our free minutes pushing strawberries around his plate. Until one child cried for help getting shoes on the right feet while the other tipped over my tumbler of tea and the dog howled for help and suddenly everyone was wailing and white-hot anger surged through my body, tight and hard and shaking and ugly, and I found myself screaming at the top of my lungs I cannot DO this, God I cannot DO THIS!
And finger-snap fast, the bright sunny morning is brooding and dark. We’re sulking in the car and I’m racing through stop lights and both boys are sad-quiet in the back and all I can think is this is not how I want to live. Yelling at my kids and running late and stress pounding in my temples.
I take a deep breath, two, three. I ask for forgiveness. I promise I love them. I sing a song to cheer the mood.
But all morning long the memory lingers.
I pray as I stroll the baby down sun-dappled streets. I plot ways to ease the morning crunch. I plunk down five dollars at the bakery for the big boy’s favorite loaf of fresh bread.
And then we’re driving home, and he’s full of school day chatter and the baby is babbling smiles and I am overwhelmed with the rush of love and joy and guilt and fear that sweeps over every day of mothering. God, I love them so much and they’re such sweet, small things and I hate my rotten temper and I hope I’m not ruining them.
Rare is the day that comes easy, but how I wrestle with the days that come hard.
At lunch’s end, I pull the loaf of still-warm bread from the paper bag. Something feels sacramental. I tear off a hunk and offer it to the boy I screamed at hours earlier. He grins and accepts. I do, too.
We both chew, quiet and content. I think about Eucharist. Does it help us forgive? Liturgy and sacrament classes swirl in my head; I can’t remember a single connection. But it feels good to slow down and break bread. That much I know.
Before nap time we’re snuggling over a pile of books. As he dives under the covers, he asks if we’re going to do prayers next. I start to say no, that prayers are for bedtime, and then I hear my own words. Of course, I reply. Let’s pray.
He launches into “Our Father…”and I hum along, half paying attention. Until.
Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses. As we forgive those who trespass against us.
Bread and forgiveness, I realize. There it is. I swallow back the lump in my throat, kiss his mop of hair as he turns away on the pillow.
What we need daily: bread and forgiveness. That much I know.