Today jr. pooped in his underwear at church. He has been having little "accidents" like this for weeks now, pretty much every single day. I took him to the bathroom and while we were in there, I told him I was going to throw his (old, worn out) underwear in the trash.
"I don't want to carry poopy underwear around for the rest of church!" I
told him. "It stinks! This is what happens when you poop in your
underwear. You get consequences."
He was devastated. He couldn't handle it. "Don't throw my underwear away!" he cried desperately. "Then I won't have enough underwear!" (I couldn't tell him that if he didn't have enough, we'd buy him more, because that would kind of defeat the purpose of the whole thing.)
I just kept repeating myself and it turned into a stand-off. He begged me. He pled with me. He cried and cried, and blocked the door so I couldn't leave the bathroom stall.
Finally he looked up into my eyes with tears in his and said in the sweetest voice,"Please, Mommy? Don't throw them away. Please?"
At that moment, as I looked at my son, a word came to my head: mercy.
Look, I know what you're thinking. Is God really going to inspire you in a bathroom stall where the subject matter is a pair of soiled underwear? But yes, I really think He did.
I like to be tough on my kids when it comes to consequences; I want them to know I mean business. But I found myself silently walking out of the stall, rummaging through my diaper bag for a ziploc, and putting the underwear in it. Then I squatted down eye-level with my little boy and told him I wasn't going to throw them away.
The relief on his face was priceless. I could feel that I had done the right thing. And as we left the bathroom to return to the meeting, he kept repeating, "I love you Mom."
I thought about this experience a lot after that. I thought about how Heavenly Father must feel when I make the same mistake over and over and over again. How many times do I say I'm sorry only to do it again? And how many times do I deserve the full consequences of what I've done?
But the Savior steps in with the whispered word mercy and then takes my hand and lets me have another chance.