When Words Cut and Slash

Photo Credit: Andrew Blight, Creative Commons, cc license

Black, white, blue and cream hangers twist jumbled on the couch. Metal and plastic angles dig and coil, arching uselessly; sharp ends jabbing, blunt sides hiding, nestling under layers; and the hangers are ensnared.

He runs and hides, giggling maniacally, shoving dryer-hot clothes into wrinkled piles, and slipping under shirts. The fun is lost on me and I scowl and call him out. He squeals and burrows further, unaware that he is past his bedtime, past his mom’s patience, past the silly zone.

And my words, they jab and coil, digging angular into soft edges, tumbling twisted to the ground. Scooping under warm laundry, I swoop up my five year old, and carry him squirming to the bathroom for last minute bedtime details. I’m ensnared in fiery emotions, spiraling hot and impatient, and my mom-skills are jumbled, useless, bundled on the side.

He tantrums and cries, while my insides sigh weary, and suddenly I calm.

“Daniel, I’m sorry. I messed up.” I talk gently and touch his toes, helping him arrange his pyjama pants. “Even though you need to obey when I talk to you, I still got too angry. I’m sorry. Will you forgive me?”

He softens, and I’m regretful and sad. We wash hands, head to his room, and turn off lights. He climbs his bunk bed, while I turn on the fan, and clear a path through the toys. Leaning on tiptoes, I swipe hair back from his face, kiss him some more, and apologize again. Playing with his caramel-colored hair, we close eyes, talk to Jesus, and say sorry to him too. We murmur gently in the dark room, talk of tomorrow, and I kiss his tiny cheeks.

Walking back into a quiet living room, I’m still saddened by my sharp words that dug and coiled. They lay twisted around me in my mind, but I bring them to God and talk to him.

Minutes pass in silence, and I tidy up the house, unconsciously.

“Mom?” he calls faintly from the bedroom.

“What, bud?”

“I’m happy now!” he declares, and my shoulders soften too, a smile stealing across my face.

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  1. Cheryl Barker on April 25, 2014 at 4:43 am

    We've all been there, Jennifer — losing our patience with our kids and being too harsh. The silver lining is that it gives us the opportunity to admit we made a mistake, apologize, and ask for forgiveness. Good for you for setting that good example after a mistake.

  2. Floyd on April 25, 2014 at 2:56 pm

    Oh man… This got me. I can so relate and have. Your humility opened the door to the heart of your loving child who has learned to forgive and love in this world where we all make mistakes. And I know he's learning that is what we're all called to by our Father. It's the real life things that really show His love and heart in us. Bless you, sister.

  3. Jayne on April 25, 2014 at 6:16 pm

    How many times I have done the exact same thing. The lesson I learned from it, the forgiveness and how quickly they forget remind me of how Jesus quickly forgives and forgets, too. It is just a quick glimpse into His love and grace.

  4. cabinart on April 28, 2014 at 5:18 am

    You described this perfectly, Jennifer. "The fun is lost on me" and being "past the silly zone" absolutely nail it. You certainly are good to your little boy in explaining things and loving him through the upsets.

  5. Jennifer Dougan on April 29, 2014 at 9:05 pm


    It's so sad, isn't it, though to see one's failings? Yes, we get to model humble apologies and warm hugs too, you're right. Thanks for compassion. 🙂

    Jennifer Dougan

  6. Jennifer Dougan on April 29, 2014 at 9:19 pm

    Thanks, Floyd.

    Jennifer Dougan

  7. Jennifer Dougan on April 29, 2014 at 9:19 pm

    Jayne, that's so true that it shows us Jesus! He is a perfect parent, huh? Thanks.

    Jennifer Dougan

  8. Jennifer Dougan on April 29, 2014 at 9:20 pm


    You are sweet to me, on my crabby day with him. Thanks for encouragement. 🙂

    I've missed you! How are you?

    Jennifer Dougan

  9. Alicia@The Overflow! on April 30, 2014 at 11:15 am

    Oh, I've been there too many times. What is it about bedtime that makes a mom "snap"? Love the way you modeled humility for your little boy. You are a great mama! And forgiveness is a wonderful thing:)

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