by Heidi Hess Saxton

I’ll be honest. Tonight felt like a big, fat fail in the parenting department. I’ll spare you the details (or perhaps it’s me I’m sparing), but at one point I looked into the snarky face of one of my children and thought: “I don’t know if I can hold on another day.” Then I made the horrific mistake of opening my mouth and telling her exactly what I thought of her and her behavior.

My mother was sitting in the next room, and there is no way she could have missed what was happening. But she didn’t say a word. All through dinner she was quiet. Then I took the kids to youth group (“Yes, you DO still have to go even though you are 18, young man”) and came back just in time to hear of another complication that will be re-entering my life in two weeks. And my arm was throbbing like someone had set it on fire even after icing and heating it.

Heidi and her mom

I made my way downstairs to put mom to bed and read to her. When we finished our devotional read, I asked her if there was anything she wanted to pray for. Her reply was immediate and simple: “I’d like to pray for you.”

My eyes were full of tears before she said the first word. I was a little afraid, truth be told, because there was no hiding the fact that I had been short, mean, and cranky all day except for the hour or so mom and I spent in the Japanese garden in Mishawaka, IN, and the hour I spent unconscious in my room afterwards. But you’d never know it as I heard the words fall from her lips, kind and gentle like rainfall.

“Lord, thank you for my daughter. Thank her for everything she has done for me, and how hard she works every day. Help her to listen to her body, and to be gentle with herself. Help her to know how much she is loved. Help us both to know which way to go in the days ahead, so we will be doing just what you want us to do.”

It’s been a long time since someone prayed for me like that. It kind of took my breath away. And suddenly I saw myself as my mother sees me — someone who is just doing her best with the hand she has. And someone who wants to do the right thing.

Later, as I sat there thinking about her prayer, I realized that this is probably what my daughter needs from me, too. Someone who will be gentle and kind. Someone who knows she is just doing her best. And so, I began, “Lord Jesus, thank you for my daughter….”

Heidi Hess Saxton is an author and acquisitions editor. She lives in northern Indiana with her husband, their two special-needs teenagers, and (most recently) Heidi’s Mom. She enjoys old movies, new books and adventures (next month she spends a week in Rwanda) and blogging over at “Life on the Road Less Traveled.”

This post first appeared here. Cover photo by Rula Sibai on Unsplash.