I wrote this post last month and then never had space for it. So it’s coming in mighty handy now, since we’re traveling and I don’t have WiFi at my fingertips…

The day unfolds as our days do: tea, breakfast, feeding the babies, changing the babies, dressing the babies, reading to the babies, putting the babies down for a nap. Then morning chores, stories, and school.

When the babies wake up, I nurse them. We finish school. I make lunch.

And this is where the day begins to unravel. Instead of having quiet time, which is what we would normally do after lunch, I pile everyone in the car and drive to West Seattle to pick up a crib. (Last week, I went into the bedroom and found a wailing Luke with his face pressed up against the slats of the crib rail, Ben happily draped over him. Clearly, the days of crib sharing are over. Hence, West Seattle and the new crib.)

The babies sleep in the car on the way there. They do not sleep on the way home. They do not sleep when we get home. Jane asks me to draw with her.

Jack remembers that he has Cub Scouts tonight and he needs to make a poster about something he likes. “I like baking, Mama. I’m going to make a poster about making biscuits.”

He wants me to help him make the poster – and the biscuits to go with it.

I do not want to draw. I do not want to make biscuits. I do not want to make a poster. I want to go lie down and take a nap.

But duty calls.

I do not answer graciously.

I bark at Jack when he’s reading the biscuit recipe. “You’re not on step three! You’re on step two! Quit fooling around and pay attention!”

“I’m sorry, Mama, I’m sorry,” he says. “I’m sorry.”

Jane comes into the kitchen with paper and a pencil. “Can you draw me a rainbow?”

I snap at her. “No! I can’t! Do you see that I’m busy right now? Why would you think I can draw you a rainbow when I’m making biscuits with Jack?”

Her face crumples.

I cannot stand myself. I slam out of the front door, stomp down the steps, and stand on the sidewalk, my back to the house, and try to breathe.

I know I’m being unfair, expecting more of my kids than they can give. They’re still children. They’re still learning. I’m supposed to be the adult around here. Trouble is, I’m still learning, too.

I breathe deep, inhaling and exhaling the Jesus Prayer, a cry for mercy in the midst of the ugliness that is me in this moment. After several minutes, lots of deep breaths, I turn around, slowly climb the steps, and go back into the house.

“I’m so sorry for being impatient and using unkind words,” I say to Jack and Jane. “Will you forgive me?”

They give me big hugs. Kisses.

Love.

Forgiveness.

As I sit on the kitchen floor, my arms around my children, I wonder if it’s always this simple, if the way out when you’re having one of those days is simply a few deep breaths, a prayer for mercy, an apology offered and accepted.

Jack and I make biscuits. We make a poster. I draw a rainbow, which Jane turns into a card for her dad. I nurse babies and make dinner and we laugh and sing –

and the day is redeemed.