Have you ever had one of those parenting moments that just stops you in your tracks and you know you will remember this moment forever? Last week was one of those moments for me, and not in a good way.
Let me back up a bit to give you a bit of context. Since having three kids my life has become a bit busier, understandably. With that I have found myself rushing a lot more and getting more easily frustrated with the kids. Why am I constantly cleaning up messes! Can’t they learn to eat OVER their plate!? Why does it take TEN minutes to put on shoes and get out the door!? Would they just stop treating me like a human jungle gym!? And WHY on God’s green earth won’t they DO WHAT I SAY THE FIRST TIME!?
I had become the mean mommy. I was short-tempered and I hated it. I didn’t like being this way and I knew things needed to change. After a particularly good MOPS meeting I was so convicted by the speaker when she talked about parenting. She made the distinction of separating our kids out from their behavior.
“YOU I love. This issue over here we need to work on.”
What stood out to me was affirming your love for them and using the words ‘work on’. This took time and training. I had become so critical of them I couldn’t remember the last time I affirmed them. Told them I loved them in the midst of bad behavior.
As God is apt to do He immediately drove the point home upon leaving MOPS. I had all three kids with me and we were running to the car as it had started to rain. I was rushing to get everyone in the van and load up all our stuff. I was barking orders to get in their seats and as I came back to the door I saw my 3 year old smearing the chalkboard craft I had just made. I yelled at him to STOP and briskly shoved him in his seat. After getting the rest of the car loaded I was buckling him in and he began to cry. Through his sobs he simply said, “Me sorry mommy. Me trying to help you get the rain off and all I did was mess it up.” He had genuine fear that I was going to give him consequences for this. It was like a knife in my heart and I still haven’t fully recovered.
My world stopped and I took him into my arms. “No sweetie. This isn’t your fault. It’s mine.”
As if that wasn’t bad enough my 5 year old started crying too saying, “I don’t want you to be mad anymore.”
How had I gotten so far from the mom I wanted to be? When did my kids become an inconvenience? When did I last stop to bend down and ask them what they were thinking? When had I traded efficiency for teaching?
My oldest isn’t being annoying and aggressive every time he jumps on my back. He is begging for more physical contact. Even though he’s five he still needs mommy to hold him and cuddle him. My 3 year old isn’t malicious, he’s curious. He isn’t destructive he just wants to explore his world and hasn’t learned self-control.
I wish I could say everything is all better but honestly change takes time. I have certainly made strides to repair our relationships and get us back on track. I have been more intentional about meeting needs that aren’t always easily vocalized. But most of all I have made time in our schedule. Time to handle those sibling conflicts. Time to teach my toddler how to put on his shoes. Time to cuddle and simply BE.