Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Mothering - Fingerprints, swallowing pride and other stuff that tastes bad.

There was a time when this would have really frustrated me.

I am still annoyed, I come from a long line of OCD ancestry.

But instead of grumbling, now I laugh and take a picture.


What has changed?

I was contemplating this question to myself earlier.

Am I slowly slipping to madness?


I will share with you what I have come up with.

Rachael's Enlightening Experience

There is a saying that goes,

"The fingerprints get higher and higher until they disappear."

I am beginning to realize just how quickly the do disappear.

When my 3rd son was three years old he LOVED his spiderman costume. He wore it constantly. Once in awhile, when he took a bath I was able to quickly wash and dry it without him throwing too big of a tantrum. As long as I let him run around naked during that time. The second I started to try and dress him in anything else a meltdown occurred.

This was my situation one Saturday before a church social. He and I were having a stare down in the bedroom. I was holding a clean T-shirt and jeans. He was clinging to his costume, refusing to let me take it off. He had been wearing it for about two days at this point and it was pretty dirty. Milk and chocolate and mustard stains covered the front, there was a hole in the leg he made while climbing a fence. He looked pretty shabby. I was determined not to let him win, I am the adult after all, he needs to learn to obey. And when mom says "time to get dressed" it's time to get dressed.

So here I was, stalking him into a corner so I could pin him down and forcibly change his clothes when I started thinking about the last time he and I were in this situation. It was the previous Sunday and I pinned him down, removed his spiderman outfit and put his church clothes on him. He and I were angry at each other for the rest of the afternoon. He was sullen and cranky in church, he wouldn't go to his class, and I was frustrated because that meant I had to either sit in his class with him pouting on my knee, or bring him to my class and entertain him there. Neither was a good option for a mom who was already frustrated with this particular toddler.

This is when I had my epiphany. And I truly believe that this came from God because I am just not that smart.

Back to my epiphany. "Rachael. What is more important? That he wear what you want him to wear and then the two of you are angry the rest of the morning. Or, That you suck in your pride, hug him and kiss him and let him wear this to the activity. Which matters the most?"

And I realized what mattered the most.

It was more important for us to have good feelings toward one another then what he was wearing.

I was going to exhaust myself if I spent all of my energy worrying about the unimportant things.

I decided that...

"If it dosen't matter to the Lord, it should not matter to me."

What matters to God? That I make chocolate chip cookies for my kids and listen to them laugh and giggle. Or should I ruin that feeling by grumbling (loudly) about how they didn't wash their hands and made a mess on the walls and light switch.

Is it more important that I lecture my son for a half hour about his bad grades, until he has no doubt in his mind about how important getting good grades are and I am sure he understands me perfectly. My speech will be so inspiring and eloquent, and his punishments so appropriate, that he will strive with every fiber of his being to get perfect grades next time. 

Or should I hug him and tell him that I love him so much. And then tell him that I am disappointed that he didn't try his best and that he will be loosing a few privileges and his curfew will be shortened until next report card and his grades have improved.

(I have tried both of these methods to get my kids to improve their school grades.
The first one dosen't work. The second one seems to be working better.)

This is not to say that children shouldn't be taught.
They need to take responsibility and learn what their duties are and how to contribute
in the home and at school.
But it should not become a battle of wills between us.

There is another way.
Take deep breaths, plan out what you want to say in a loving manner,
keep your curt remarks to yourself.

Laugh at something that really is no big deal.

Some moms have a problem with just wanting things done right and so they just end up doing it themselves instead of teaching their children how to do it.

I do not have that problem.

 I want things done right but I also want them to learn how to do it. And so I have the tendency to hover over them nagging and finding fault until they have done it up to my specifications.

Not good.

There has to be a happy medium.

I am trying to find that medium. And learning not to obsess about things that are really unimportant. This is also referred to as "Swallowing your Pride.

I am not perfect at this. I choke down big hunks of pride every day,
and quite often I spit them right back up.

But, I have made progress.
Or I'm slowly going crazy, sometimes I can't tell which one it is.

The Ending to my Story
Mr. B had a great time at the activity in his spiderman costume. And no other moms glared at me and whispered "Can you believe she let her son go out looking like that? What a mess!"  And if there was anyone who whispered that, those people need a lesson like the one I had just learned. I was a little worried about the next day though. It was Sunday again and even though I had let him have his way this time, there was no way he could wear this costume to our church services. 

The next morning I sat on the bed with him wrapped in a towel, all clean from his morning bath. I held out his church clothes and said to him.  "Can I help you get dressed? It's Sunday and we need to get ready for church." He glanced at his costume that was in a crumpled heap on the floor and then stood up next to me willing and ready to dress in his Sunday clothes. I don't know why he gave in. Maybe it was my approach, maybe it was because he knew I gave in the day before, I cannot decipher a three year olds mind. 

But I had changed, and I am still changing.

I'm trying to love and cherish these little angles that I have been blessed with.
I'm trying to see the good in every moment and teach with love, patience and gentle guidance.

It will take me the rest of my life I am sure.

Here is a picture of the above mentioned three-year-old. 
Whom I love dearly.
But I don't think I would go back to the time this kid was 3 for a million dollars. 
He was a lot of work.
Do you see that angelic smile and that glint in his eye?
Yea, that was nothing but trouble.

He's so much easier to handle now that he's eight... usually.
Although, he still has strange fashion sense.



Amy C said...

Thank you for sharing this!! I really needed to hear/read this, although I didn't know it. Thank you!

Aimee - ItsOverflowing.com said...

So true!! Great perspective Rachael! Thanks for stopping by earlier and leaving me a super sweet note! I'm excited to be your newest follower!

XO, Aimee

Jillian McKenzie said...

Thanks so much for this. I could read it again and again.

The Jensen Family said...

The world needs more moms like you. Thanks for sharing!


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