Monday, December 1, 2014

Parenting Gems.

As a mom, I find that there are ample opportunities in my life to be reminded that I'm not perfect.  Not that I thought I was perfect before having kids.  Far from it.  But when you're a parent it's like having a neon billboard, in the shape of a squirmy child, boldly announcing your imperfections to the world. 

I was having one of those weeks last week.  You know type.  The week where nothing seems to go right.  Kids are melting down into raging hissy fits at an alarming rate.  Your temper gets the best of you.  Nobody likes the dinner you cooked.  You find yourself raising your voice more than you would like.  You spend all your time picking up toys and nagging your kids to put their laundry in the hamper and your house STILL looks like a tornado hit it.  Doors get slammed.  Somewhere around Thursday afternoon, you slowly begin to believe you're a crappy mom and there is no hope for anyone in your house.

Can I get a witness??  Perhaps an Amen?

We are all imperfect.  We all have "off" weeks.  But for some reason when  things are off with my kids I take it personally.  It's as if I alone am to blame for each and every imperfection that shows up in my child.  As much as I try to be an easy-going mom, the doubt and uncertainty that fester when the kids stray off course can be toxic. 

Never mind the fact that my youngest is three and hasn't yet mastered impulse control and social graces.  Forget the fact that my sweet, young daughter is hard-wired as a sensitive type and will cry at things that make me roll my eyes.  I get that teenagers can be sassy, withdrawn and occasionally infuriating without even lifting a finger.  It's normal stuff.

But sometimes I forget that they are human and I am too.  I expect perfection from them and from myself.  I become so absorbed in teaching them to cooperate and be good citizens that I forget they are individual humans with their very own unique traits, quirks, and personalities.

This is a dangerous road, friends.  Because when we forget that we are raising humans, not robots, we expect too much of our kids and ourselves.  We forget to be graceful and forgiving.  We overlook the diamonds in the rough that God has sprinkled in our life.

This is exactly where I was last week.  I had ENOUGH of the complaining, the temper tantrums and the children that were exercising their age-appropriate behaviors.  I wanted perfect little soldiers that fell in line when I said it was time to go.  Instead I had a preschooler that was banging dents into my candles with his spoon, pulling the water tank off the humidifier, and refusing to leave the house. 

I picked him up, hauled him out to the car and strapped him into his car seat.  I got into the drivers seat, breathed a sigh of relief that he was strapped down and not able to do any further damage aside from his screaming and crying. And then I felt the pressure of my own tears, threatening to make an appearance.  As I listened to his wails, I wanted to join in.  I felt like sitting in that car and letting him see my frustration boil over into hot tears.  With my voice wavering and one tear escaping, in spite of my attempt to hold everything together, I turned around and looked at this angry child and said (probably louder than necessary), "I'm so TIRED of you not cooperating!"

Truth is I was just plain tired.  This perfect storm of the morning rush to get out the door, interrupted by a kid that needed some attention and didn't want to wear a coat was, in that moment, inexplicably exhausting.  I had held it together and remained civil with my kids in the midst of numerous similar scenarios.  But that day, I just couldn't muster my super-mom gene.  I felt hopeless, ineffective and frustrated.

And as we all sat together in silence, letting that little moment of ugly sink in, I heard the small voice of my daughter from the back seat.

"Mommy, do you need a hug?"

Yes.  Thank you, my sensitive, observant child.  A hug would be great.

And there it was.  In the middle of our ugly morning....a diamond in the rough.  Compassion from a small child.  Hugs given freely.  A quiet voice of reason in the midst of a stressful morning.  Lessons that she learned in my home, in spite of my imperfections. 

Thank Jesus for these small gems.  They are the lifeblood of motherhood.

Today's Lesson: Hug freely.

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