I'm back and I'm in a hurry to write this because I'm basically in a hurry to do everything these days. I guess it's just that time of year. So much going on and this year, it is compounded by the fact that my dear hubby got an amazing promotion (thank you, God) and is also in the middle of back to back turnarounds, so he is working really long and totally random hours. We see each other in passing and this will continue until after the New Year. We are making it work and the kids are transitioning okay but we all miss him and our (sort of) normal routine. It is hard for them but I'm realizing more and more as I gain experience as a mother and wife that when it comes to the family vibe...I set the tone.
Hear me out. I've had a lot of time to think about this, experiment with it and the evidence bears me out. Most of the time, when I'm calm, cool and collected, everyone in the house seems to line up with my mood. Conversely, If I'm not careful, I can send the whole clan out into their various daily lives in a stressed out, bummed out or frustrated mood simply because I fail to exercise a little self control. I'll give you an example, though it's not flattering to me, personally and is a bit embarrassing. In the spirit of mom unity and all that, I'll go ahead and put myself 'out there.'
Last week, I woke up feeling awful. My knee was hurting, I fell asleep too late, while reading, and hadn't taken my contacts out, so my eyes were dry and blurry. David was still not home from work and I allowed myself to become resentful that I had to get the kids up, fed, dressed and driven off to school (earlier than usual that day) without any help. This was particularly stupid because David is rarely here in the mornings anyway and I am perfectly capable of doing all of those things, as I always do, by myself. Besides, my kids are really compliant and generally in a good mood when they wake up, so getting them to school is no big deal. Usually, it's my pleasure. Actually...it's my JOB.
But on this day, I was NOT in the mood. I walked into the family room and immediately began finding fault. Clothes not picked up, the kids weren't moving fast enough for me. The dog wanted out and then in and then out again. There was no food in the dog's bowl. I began grumbling purposefully loud enough to hear that I was sick and tired of having to do EVERYTHING and that I was going to start grounding them from electronics for leaving their stuff out and I was not their maid and I was nobody's personal servant and what about personal responsibility and accountability and disrespect, blah, blah, blah...I mean, I was on a roll, y'all!! I was riding them like a jockey at the Kentucky Derby. Totally out of character for me and completely unnecessary. But you moms out there will relate that once we get started like that, it's like a snowball going downhill. The momentum is too much and all of our pent up frustration comes to the surface and then before you know it, you're anger jumps out of the gate and it's off to the races. I'm ashamed to admit that I kept this up all the way to the school drop off lines. And believe me, I was justified. I was fired up with righteous indignation. I had had it.
Nothing I was saying was wrong. I had legitimate complaints. But wow, was my timing and delivery way off. My kids are sensitive and eager to please. They were sleepy and had just woken up. They are used to laughing and giggling and kisses and prayers in the morning. Talk about a blindside. The two little ones were holding back tears and sniffling and Patrick just looked shell shocked. I dropped them off and drove home still juiced up with aggravation. It wasn't until I walked back into my quiet house, mess and all, that I realized the damage I had done. Too late. At that point there was nothing I could do about it but wait until I picked them up and try to gently explain and apologize. After I had time to reflect, I realized that the whole thing was my own fault. That morning, I had become so self centered that I bypassed my usual 'Good morning. Lord...thank you for this new day' and jumped right into "poor me mode." I forgot to put God first. I zoomed in on my inconveniences and failed to take a moment to just be grateful for a new day. That's not like me but I'm human and have weak moments just like everyone else. I felt contrite and regretful all day. I asked God to forgive me but I couldn't wait to see my kids to ask for theirs, as well.
As parents, I think it is vital to openly admit our mistakes to our kids and to ask their forgiveness. THAT is how they learn accountability and personal responsibility. By modeling what they see us doing with them and with others in our lives. When I'm wrong, I say I'm wrong. I don't try to be perfect in their eyes. I just want to give them my best. Sometimes my best isn't all that great but at least they see me trying and learning and growing. I feel like that's a good lesson. That no matter our age or position, we should be accountable for all that we say and do at all times. Also, that regardless of who we are or how old we may be, we are (hopefully) always learning and growing.
When I saw them that afternoon, all of my kids were noticeably a little wary and even a bit distant with me. I don't blame them. During our conversation when we got home, Patrick threw a truth bomb at me that I will never, ever forget. He said, "Mom, I like the way we usually have fun in the mornings because I think that's a special time for us. Not all kids have moms that are fun like you. When you are griping and mad in the morning, it just ruins my whole day. I mean...you didn't even pray with us this morning. I prayed for you when I got to school that you would stop being mad at us."
Boom. We all talked it out and I was able to articulate my expectations with them and they forgave me for being a raving witch. Although it ended well, I'm left with a lesson I'll keep with me always.
Since that a-ha morning...I've made a commitment to myself to do a little mental inventory before I even open my bedroom door to be about the business of my day. I'll give Jesus His due, as the first greeting I give in the morning belongs to Him. I'll think about how I'm feeling. If I'm annoyed because I stayed up too late, I'll shake it off and tell myself to deal with it. I'll greet my husband and kids with a hug and a smile. I will gently but firmly nudge them in the direction they should go. I will do my job and set the proper tone for the day. I will encourage, uplift and pray with them as we part for the day. There will be plenty of time for reinforcing behavior and unless one of the kids is being a total pain and I have to deal with it (it happens), we will greet the day as positively as possible. That is on me. Why me? Because I am the grown up, I am the mom and wife, and whether I understand why or not...it's my responsibility to set the tone in my household. The tone I choose is peaceful, calm, patient and loving. With God's mercy and grace...I can at least do that. Call it 'trickle down Momenomics.'
Will I get this right every day? Probably not but I'm determined and usually that means I will succeed. When I do slip up, I'll own it, apologize for it and ask for a do-over. Sounds a lot like life, I guess. Thankfully, I know that to err is human and to forgive is divine.
I'm grateful for divine forgiveness and also deeply humbled and thankful for the unconditional love and understanding from my best friend and husband and our darling little humans who are growing up way too fast. :)
Happy Thanksgiving to all.
Blessings and love,