I said 'No' to Ava. Since she's 5, of course, she didn't like it.
So she made a mean face at me.
I told her, "I cannot allow that. I love you too much to let you make those kind of faces at me...because it will hurt you if I allow you to make a mean face at me when I say 'No.' I cannot allow you to make that face at me because when you are old, I do not want you to make that face at God when He says 'No' to you." And so I gave her consequence.
Later, in the car, Bethie, who is 3, asked if I am mad at Sissy. Her Dad explained it to us all. He said, "Mommy is upset that Sissy made a disobey face at her. But, girls, mad is a part of love. Laugh is a part of love. Fun is a part of love. Upset is a part of love. And mad is a part of love. In our family, we will get upset at each other. Ava will get mad at Mom. Mom will get mad at Dad. Dad will get mad at Bethie,
AND we will talk it out and love each other.
This is how it will be in our family. Mad does not mean I do not love you. Mad means I am upset, I think you did something wrong, AND we will bring it up, talk it out, AND you will have my love. This is how we will deal with mad in our family."
So Bethie, of course, decided to test this new theory. She said she was mad at Ava for her disobeying face. So her Dad helped her to practice this new idea by having her tell Ava, "Sissy, I'm mad at you for doing a disobey face to Mommy." And he had Ava repeat back to Bethie why she was mad: "You're mad at me because I made a mean face to Mommy." Then he helped Ava say, "I'm sorry, Bethie, for making a disobeying face at Mom. I did not do the right thing. And that hurts our family." And then he helped Bethie say, "Your disobeying was wrong. But you will have my love...always. I love you. I forgive you. And you are like me. We both need Jesus to rescue us."
This is not something that I know as a Mommy. Because this was not something I knew as a Little Girl. This is something I am learning.
When I was a little girl, I learned that mad means that I no longer like who you are. Mad means that even if only for a short time, you will lose my love. Mad means something very bad. Mad is what you want to avoid at all costs. Never, ever, ever make someone mad at you. Mad is not a part of love. Try your very best to be the very best so you'll never give anyone a chance to get mad.
But if someone DOES get mad, do your very best to weasel your way out of it. Do not bring it up, do not talk it out. Pretend it's not there. Smile it away. Be extra nice and maybe the love will come back. But if you can not 'nice' the mad away, wear the bigger smile but put up your walls, because mad will take the love away.
And if you are mad, stuff it down, lock it up, and never talk about it. Because if you talk about it, love will go away. Because mad is not a part of love.
But that day in the car, the Dad of our family, he told us. He told us the Truth.
There's love in mad and there's mad in love.
And the truth is we cannot do good enough to never make anyone mad. We all do the wrong thing. We all make mistakes. We cannot save ourselves by never making each other mad or sad. But when we talk it out and remember that there's love in mad and mad in love, we find that together, all of us, we are the same: we need Jesus. So we will talk it out and we can still love each other. Because it's so safe to know that there is mad in love and love in mad. The mad is not so scary when we know that the love stays and that Jesus is rescuing us all.
It's then that we can say: "I'm mad at you."