Confession: I was a crabby mom this morning. And yesterday morning. And yesterday after school. In fact, I'm pretty sure I've written at least one blog before with a very similar title. This might indicate I have a problem.
Well, the truth is that I do have a problem...and not just my mild anxiety issues and monthly hormones ...I have another problem too.
It's called sin, and it likes to rear it's ugly head most often in my motherhood.
This morning started out well. I had coffee and cereal before the kids came out for breakfast, as well as time in my Bible. I'm embarrassed to admit it, but I even specifically prayed this morning that God would help me to "keep in step with the Spirit" as Paul instructs us to do in Galatians 5. And for about five minutes of interacting with one child, I stepped with the Spirit with ease. Then I went to wake up another child, who was NOT in the mood to wake up for school, and rather than calmly stepping with the Spirit, I just threw that all out the window and reacted like a hot-headed, impatient, ugly mad mom. And then, you know how after you start being hot-headed and self-righteous in your parenting, you just keep doing it? Like, you nag your kid(s) for everything he or she does and then tell them snotty things like, "I was in a good mood until everyone started doing x, y, and z."?? Well, I did that. Right up until they climbed on their bikes.
Now, some of you read that above paragraph and resonate completely. Others read that and are thinking that my parenting was really crappy this morning. You're right. I have no excuses.
Shortly after the kids took off on their bikes (openly admitting they were glad to bike off to happier people), Paul came home from his shift at the fire station and the good Lord sent me out on a walk. (He does that when He needs to talk to me about my behavior.)
As we walked and talked, the Lord showed me a few things that might be helpful to another mom out there. (Or, maybe it'll just be helpful for me to re-read this the next time I screw up like this.)
The first thing the Lord set me straight on is that I tend to sugarcoat my hurtful mothering behaviors, making excuses like "I'm just rightfully scolding or correcting my kids," when in fact I often cross the line into "blaming" or even "shaming" them for simple mistakes that need simple correction or redirection. Here's a really pathetic recent example of what I mean. Last weekend at a Redhawks game my daughter spilled an entire box of popcorn that I had just bought her. Rather than assuring her it was no big deal, I sighed overtly loudly, making her feel ashamed for something as trite and silly as spilled popcorn. Paul called me on it right away, as iron sharpening iron is supposed to do, and after at least ten minutes of me sulking in pride, my heart finally softened, remorse set in, (the healthy kind), and I apologized and gave her my popcorn. It's astounding to me what huge hearts my kids have. My pride can be such a monster in parenting, yet they forgive me time and time again.
As the Lord was talking to me about shaming my kids, He brought to my heart Ephesians 4:29, which should really be scrawled across all my walls: "Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouth, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear." Ahh! Yes! I want to only use my mouth to build up, teach, instruct and encourage my kids, not to tear down. I want to be a Mom who gives grace to her kids.
Another thing Jesus showed me today is that my unpreparedness is to blame for our rough mornings...not my kids. If I had kids' outfits lying out, as well as plates, bowls, glasses, spoons, lunchboxes, etc., all sitting out ready for use, the morning would run so much more smoothly. Sure, my kids have responsibilities too, but Jesus gently reminded me that this is my job. My husband is awesome at uplifting motherhood as my career and my calling. Well, I need to act like it then. If a professional showed up to work crabby and blaming others when her workday started out badly each day, she'd get fired, or at least put on probation or something. Why should motherhood be different? It is my responsibility to start our days well instead of blaming others when my own unpreparedness makes us all a frenzy.
And then, last, the Lord reminded me of this great analogy I recently heard on the radio. A Christian author/speaker was talking about being a thermostat rather than a thermometer. A thermometer reacts to the temperature of the room, rising or falling as temperature changes. A thermostat sets the temperature of the room. I want to be the kind of woman who sets the thermostat each morning at my house, shaping the mood to be loving, kind, and encouraging. Misbehavior and crabby attitudes and lost shoes and tired kids and unfound library books and spilled milk are going to happen for sure, but I don't want to be the kind of unstable mom who is constantly shifting her mood based on her surroundings. When my mood shifts based on everyone else's behavior, my kids never know what to expect from me. You can see the question on their faces: "What kind of mood will Mom be in now???" I don't want that to be the case. I want to set the mood, and I want to set it well.
Or course I'm never going to do this whole thermostat thing perfectly. I'm still going to screw up and shame my kids wrongfully and have to go to them for the millionth time to ask for forgiveness. But in his book Sacred Parenting (which you should read), Gary Thomas lifts up imperfection as the key to the one perfect thing we can do in parenting: we can use our imperfections to point our kids to their perfect Savior. When we go to our children and admit our sin and ask for forgiveness, we are reminding them that we too are in desperate need of a Savior...and that is the single most important thing we can ever do as a parent. I often say to my kids, "I'm sorry. Mom really needs a Savior doesn't she?" And they readily reply, "Yep! You sure do!"
Yep. I sure do. And we have the perfect one in Jesus, whose perfect love covers over the multitude of our sins. Praise the Lord.
So...here's to doing better, setting the temperature of the room, and stepping with the Spirit.
And to the weekend:)