"I don't care, it doesn't matter, it doesn't matter, it doesn't matter! Whatever it is canNOT be worth the fighting and the tears. It doesn't matter! I don't care!"
And then it hit me. I was adding to the problem. I was making it worse. I was informing my children that their concerns (no matter how trivial) didn't matter!
Normally at this juncture in the process I would internalize my shame and keep on with the lecturing. Today I did something different because of two different things that had pierced my parenting bubble yesterday. The first was this article written by Dr. Vanessa Lapointe of The Wishing Star. And the second was a long facebook 'note' another girl posted saying basically the same thing only adding the gospel truth to it.
Sooooooo, I paused.
I washed the milk bucket.
I began rinsing the milk filter.
Behind me my son began crying. Big tears of absolute sadness. Normally I may have chosen to ignore this. Or more likely I may have given him a hug, but without saying anything or perhaps lecturing some more. Today I hugged him and then asked what was going on. Gulps, more tears, and it slowly came out, "I hate being yelled at and getting in trouble. But sometimes I get so angry I just can't keep it in. I just go all AAAAAARGH." Bingo. There it is. The truth.
Today I helped this all play out different. Today I HEARD him. And the truth is sometimes I just can't keep it in and I go all AAAAAAARGH! And the truth is, that is just being human. Soooo we chatted about that. How everyone has trouble and does things that are unkind, or hurtful, or mean. How at some point everyone has lost it. BUT I informed him that I love him, no matter what, and that we have a great, big God who loves him no matter what. And that same great, big God will live in us and help us act right with His strength. Now I was much wittier and gave real life examples of my own struggles controlling my temper, both helping to ease the tension (giggling ensued) and pointing out that indeed "there is no one righteous, not even one" (Romans 3:10) Not even moms. BUT "sin shall not be your master because you are not under law, but under grace." (Romans 6:14) and "I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me." (Galatians 2:20).
Let me put it more simply. This is what my son was told this morning, he was told he was HUMAN, and LOVED with a love that had no conditions upon it. We are sinners, through and through. We are going to mess up, time and time again, but we can learn from our moments of frustration and anger, we can call upon God to help us and forgive us...and we an realize that we are going to have to do this again and again. He can KNOW that I love him and he can talk to me no matter what!
The outcome was he returned to doing dishes with a smile on his face AND patience with his little sisters. It is several hours later and still he is showing patience and love and kindness to his sisters.
ALSO...I am responding to each of my children with more love and compassion. With a voice inflected with interest showing them that what they are saying IS important and DOES matter.
I know this is a lesson that will have to be repeated, both with my children and with myself, over and over again. But it is a lesson worth repeating. I desire my children to feel loved, to change their behavior, not because I have threatened them or yelled at them, but because they desire to show love and patience (with God's help). I want to see hearts changed first so the behavior changes will stick. So the behavior flows from the inside out instead of from the outside in.
Menu: Day 7
Breakfast: Cranana hemp protein smoothie (This is pretty yum!)
Lunch: Shepherds Pie with cauliflower/sweet potato mash
Dinner: Leftover Shepherds pie
Snacks: coconut meltaways, chocolate banola, herbal teas