My mom loves to tell a story about a vacation my family took when I was younger. I couldn't have been more than four or five at the time. We were touring South Dakota or Wyoming or some vast Midwestern state. I was tired of getting out of the car, so when my family all got out again, I went around, locked all the doors of the car (this was old school, people - push and lock) and declared, "I'm NOT getting out!"
My parents, of course, had the key, and my grandma, who was also tired of walking, agreed to stay by the car and watch me.
My mom uses this story to illustrate how stubborn I was. And I still am. Sometimes it is to my benefit, like when I had to spend 14 and a half weeks on bed rest with my twins.
Sometimes it is to my detriment, like when I hold stupid grudges against people and ideas. I lost about eight years' worth of time with two of my very best friends being upset over petty stuff that we could have talked out. Thankfully, I am friends again with these amazing women, but I feel sad about the big holes in our relationships.
That brings to mind how powerful forgiveness can be. Even if the words aren't said, the feelings are there. And even if it's not necessarily "forgive and forget" (remember, I said I was stubborn), the forgiveness part can still heal us enough to allow forward movement.
I've had a tough week. I wrote about the 8 ways I'm trying to deal with parenting stress. One way was to go into the bathroom, away from my kids, and yell. I don't want them to think of me as the psycho unbalanced mom who always yelled.
But that's what I did Monday. And then because I needed my two hours of time the other day, I let Baby E cry in his crib for an hour. The whole time I am doing either of these things, I think to myself, "My goodness, I'm an awful mother. I'm evil. My sons are going to hate me."
And while that may be true someday (hello teenage years), it's certainly not true now. Thankfully, little people have the ability to forgive - and forget - in big ways.
I can see that at least two of my boys have my stubborn streak; but regardless, by Monday night, they were wanting hugs and stories. And short of brushing my hair, they were doing everything they could to make the night easier for me.
And the crying baby? By the time I went to get him from his crib, he was all smiles and hugs and happy to see me.
I can't help but think I'm doing damage to my boys every time I yell and scream at them.
But every time I cuddle and read a story, make someone a special lunch, spend some time playing, well, maybe I'm turning on that power. The power of forgiveness. The non-stubborn let's-just-forget-about-it-ness.
Wouldn't it be nice if it were that easy for adults?
Are you a forgive and forget type person, or do you hold grudges?