The Ugly Truth
I love being a mom, but I have found that motherhood too often brings out the worst in me. Can you relate? In these worst of times, sleep-deprived emotions run high. I spew out an endless stream of directions toward the general abyss of The Offspring, like random spit-wads toward a chalkboard. If I just keep fighting, eventually something’s got to stick, right? But it doesn’t. My breaking point too often results in losing my temper and banishing everyone to their rooms while I complete whatever it was I had wanted them to do in the first place. It’s all very exhausting and not very helpful for anyone.
A Moment of Epiphany
Today I found myself nearing this cycle of self-destruction, when I was reminded of something with which I had encouraged other young moms last year. If you read Ephesians 6:12, the message reminds us that, ultimately, our struggles should not be aimed against humans, but rather fought together in unity. This includes struggles with our kids. When we refuse to drive until all seat-belts are fastened, or administer prescribed medications that taste gross, we are not fighting against our children, we are fighting FOR them. We are fighting for their best interest, for their health, and most importantly for the development of their good character. As I was reminded of all this, I had a flash of insight.
Do my kids know that I am fighting for them?
When I am struggling to stay consistent in having my child accomplish a menial task every day, have I ever stopped to let him know that this is so that he can learn to take care of himself? Have I ever connected the dots between their personal growth and their chores? I realized I had never explained why those dishes need to make it to the sink after lunch. I’m not advocating that toddlers should always be granted full explanations in order to respect authority. Still, as I thought about it, I had to admit that they had come to see many of these tasks as a “me vs them” battle, and they have been determined to dig their heels in. I can’t imagine where all this stubbornness comes from, haha! It must be their father, because I am the most easy-going person. Ever. All the time.
So today, I stopped mid-spew and started over with our 3-year-old, David. “Hey David! Did you know that I’m asking you because I want you to win at this? I want you to be able to do this all by yourself. I’m not against you. When you win, I win too. Do you want to win this job with me?” As people, if we are to ever continue with strong relationships, we need to stop every once in awhile and remember that we are on the same team. Children are no different in this need than adults. Our kids need to know that when they obey, we all win. We don’t want them to lose at life, we are rooting for them! The opposite is true too. Think about it. Sometimes the harshest disservice we can do for our kids is to ignore an unhealthy behavior. When they lose, we all lose.
I’m not saying that remembering this frame of mind suddenly makes parenting easier. But I have found that it has helped me to maintain a healthier consistency that remains flexible to building stronger relationships with these crazy little people. Going back to my story, David’s response was so sweet! He jumped up from his pile of blocks to put his plate in the sink, exclaiming “Yay! I want to win!”
So do I, Little Man, so do I.