Notes from the Pandemic: Anger & Grace

Jen Bradbury
Apr 19 · 5 min read

Emotions are an interesting thing during quarantine.

It seems like on any given day, I feel ALL the emotions...STRONGLY. Sometimes I can process WHY I’m feeling what I’m feeling. Other times, I simply can’t.

Naturally, through no fault of their own, my germ family – those that I’m quarantined with – take the brunt of my emotions.

On Friday, it was my poor daughter, Hope.

She woke up early (which I was not happy about because I had work to do.) So, I got her set up on the floor in my office. I worked on my sermon. She read. Life was good… For a while.

Then she decided to get dressed – a major step towards independence that she’s gotten really good at during this pandemic. But then she made the mistake of going into my bedroom, where Kendall was still sleeping.

I heard the door shut and I LOST MY MIND.

Hope walked out of my room, having gotten something from my bathroom that she needed.

I paid NO ATTENTION to that.

I saw only that she went into the ONE room that I had asked her NOT TO GO INTO because I didn’t want her to wake up her baby sister.

I caught her coming out of the bedroom and I screamed… Bloody murder. I was so loud that my husband heard me two floors below us.

Since this isn’t how I typically respond, my poor daughter was stunned…And terrified.

She dropped what she was carrying and it shattered into a million pieces… And then she shattered into a million pieces.

She burst into tears and cried hysterically.

Her tears jarred me back into reality.

I was so focused on guarding my precious work time that I momentarily lost sight of what’s most important: My relationship with my daughter.

I felt awful.

I gently grabbed Hope and pulled her towards me in a loving embrace. We sat on the ground and rocked, both of us in tears.

I apologized and told her how much I loved her.

I told her I didn’t mean to scare her but that I knew that I had. I confessed that I reacted poorly because I was concerned that she’d wake up Kendall. That’s when she said, “I think maybe your screaming would have done that anyway.” Out of the mouths of babe, right?

Eventually, Hope and I broke from our embrace and she promptly returned to playing.

I returned to work, or at least tried to.

As is often the case for me, after such an egregious failure I found it difficult to resume working. My mind kept replaying the awfulness of this incident. I kept seeing myself screaming at Hope and Hope dropping what she was carrying… Almost in slow motion. It got worse every time I replayed it in my mind.

Unable to continue, I went and found Hope. She was setting up an elaborate boat in my bedroom. 

When I found her, I apologized again. She looked me in the eye and said, “I know you're sorry, Mommy. You don’t have to keep saying it. I forgive you… And it’s OK.”

Then she went right back to playing.

It seems impossible to me that it could really be that simple. In my nightmares, this is the kind of stuff Hope’s going to spend the rest of her life unpacking in therapy.

But in those moments when Hope tells me I’m forgiven and then quickly returns to playing, seemingly oblivious to the trauma of the morning, I can’t help but think she understands grace far better than I do.

Maybe someday I'll learn to show grace to others as easily as Hope demonstrates it to me.