Family vacations are this fantastic mix of joyful family moments and the awkwardness of being away from your familiar routine and surroundings. This is amped up even more for little ones. Our almost 4 year old was a trooper during a recent two week stint away from home. She did great through long car rides, new faces and uncertain situations. I joined her halfway through her trip and one night brought us face to face with a preschool meltdown.
In one corner we had a very tired little girl who refused to nap earlier in the day. She had some pent up rage about something in her world and it was time for it to come out.
In the other corner we see a tired and stressed out mom trying to hold it together. She had some pent up rage about something in her world and it was time for it to come out…likely through trying to control the behavior of her child.
Cue a meltdown. On vacation. In someone else’s home.
It was time for her to say goodbye to her grandma but she didn’t want to. And she did at the same time. You could see the frustration in her eyes.
I took her back to our room, closed the door and sat against it. Her meltdown ensued while I bit my tongue and tried to be a patient presence. Everything inside of me was so angry at her. I didn’t know what to do anymore. So I grabbed my phone and put on a timer. She hated that. I let it count down about 30 seconds and then something made me change my mind. I turned it off and whispered, “Isabella, come here. Sit in my lap.”
She crawled into my lap, still sobbing and kicking a bit, but she came close. I felt her relax a little bit. I whispered, “I wonder if it’s hard to say goodbye to your grandma when you and I haven’t connected today very much.” She nodded and the crying quieted. She melted in my arms. A couple minutes passed. I said, “You can go say bye to Grandma when you’re ready.” She hopped right up and ran to Grandma to say bye.
On that day, in that place, she couldn’t love someone else until her mom loved her first.
May we know our God desires the same for you and for me. Some of us are trying so hard to love these crazy people around us and we’re failing and stumbling forward all the time. Maybe we’re trying to do it without really knowing God loves us first. When we make time in our lives to internalize that reality, it gets a little easier to love all the wonderfully weird people in our lives.
We love only by the grace of a God who loves us first.