Does it seem like when you’re in a hurry to get out the door, your kids suddenly become deaf? And forgetful? I’ll be barking out
commands, trying to shove my children through their Morning Chores as fast as possible, and I’ll go in to a bedroom and find someone staring into space, “What?
Oh, sorry, Mom!” Argh.
I realize I only have three children, but trying to keep them each going at their own, individual tasks, like brushing teeth, seems an exercise in futility. Does it take everyone else twenty-seven hours to brush teeth? We have to find the correct toothbrush, then one needs help opening the lid, (another kid is outside trying to find their shoes that they forgot out there the day before), then the toddler refuses to open his mouth or stop talking so I can brush his teeth, so I have to put him crying in the crib, then I have to
make my six-year-old stop talking so I can do the second pass on hers, and two years later we are finally done. It’s ridiculous. And, it’s not as if I can just ignore the teethbrushing and just let them take a swipe at it themselves because one of my children had FOUR CAVITIES the last time we went to the dentist! (Thank you, I’ll put that Terrible Mother medal around my neck now.)
So finally I’ll change the toddler’s diaper, everyone will manage to get clean clothes on and locate two matching (usually) shoes, and we are off to run some errand (or go get a cavity filled). It’s kinda been my fault lately, all these extra errands. Most of them have to do with the book, like mailing out review copies, or going by the post office, or some other errand I should have done on Friday afternoons but didn’t because I was working on trying to figure out Facebook. So, despite the fact that Mom’s the crazy one dragging everyone all around town, I’m the one that gets all bent out of shape.
I’m yapping at them to hurry, and every glazed-over look and bickering with each other seems to add one more straw to my already aching back. I know the final straw is coming. (I realize I’m the camel in this scenario, but that’s how it is.) March is a bad month for me with my husband’s accounting busy season, and I start feeling behind, and overwhelmed and like a terrible mother (see cavity count for proof) and then, I seem to just be constantly snippy and impatient with my poor kids. Yesterday I told my husband that the kids and I had to get back to our usual routine, so the kids knew what to expect and hopefully would be a little more efficient with those basic things that tend to drive me nuts, and I really wanted to try to be more gentle with them.
And God usually helps me out with that by giving me laryngitis. At least once a year, sometimes twice, I have a sore throat and can barely talk. Last night my throat started feeling scratchy. And today, it hurt to talk.
Forced niceness. Forced lack of yelling. It’s a good thing. Today I had to whisper to the kids, or say something one time, then wait for them to obey. I’d softly say, “Lie on your back, so I can change your diaper,” then wait. It hurt too much to repeat it. Of course, my two-year-old would say, “NO!” or “I clean!” and run away, so I’d scoop him up and put him in the pack n’play. No telling him eighteen times, then angrily putting him in.
Just gently and kindly, I said, “You didn’t obey Mommy.”
When I had to correct my eight-year-old about something, I had to listen to him tell me about it. I couldn’t lecture him. And you know what, he didn’t need it. Turns out, he could tell me exactly what he did wrong, why it was wrong, and what to do differently next time. Who knew?
Later, I sat on the couch and listened to my six-year-old daughter telling me about squid because I couldn’t interrupt her.
My two-year-old came over when I was making a smoothie for lunch and asked what it was, and I had to kneel right down, look into his sweet eyes and whisper, “smoothie.” “Smoothie?” he whispered back, his brown eyes sparkling, as if we were sharing some deep secret. How many times do I stop, kneel down and look into his face during the day? Not a lot.
There was still a little bickering today. But not nearly as much as usual. I have to wonder if I snap black clouds at my kids in the morning, then they answer back with grumbling thunder, and before we know it, we’re flashing lightning at each other and the whole family gets caught in a downpour.
So, today, I was so very thankful for the reminder to be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry. I want to do that; I want to be a gentle, kind mom, I really do. I just get so much in a hurry with my plans and ideas that I forget to slow down and listen. I forget to stop, look into my children’s faces, and speak softly to them.
Today, we all yelled a lot less. Maybe I’ll try tape over my mouth every now and then.
Prayer for this week:
Proverbs 31:26 She opens her mouth with wisdom, and on her tongue is the law of kindness.