We have had a rough last several weeks. Very rough, pulling my hair out, not sure anything I say or do is getting through, send me all the coffee rough. Potentially made worse by the fact that my daughter is very sensitive to caffeine in breast milk and I can only drink the fake decaf variety…but that is another story. Anyway, why have our last weeks been so rough? What is going on? Well…I’ll elaborate as best as I can without breaking the heart of this post. You’ll see what I mean.
Over the past month we went through some big family changes with a new work schedule for my husband, house guests, starting school and my younger child finding her voice and, oh my, has she ever found it. All of this has been hard on my son because his world is changing around him and he can barely keep up. Little sister is demanding more of me and I’m demanding more of him. Responsibilities and lessons that he needs to learn and can even enjoy learning but, honestly, I have been pretty short with him. I have raised my expectations and reduced my patience…probably not best to do those two at the same time so I’m mentally readjusting at present. The other big reason that I think he has been off though is because of my mouth.
This is kind of embarrassing but I have developed a really bad habit of complaining about my kids in front of them. Something I swore I would never do….back when I was young, carefree and sleeping more than 4 hours at a time. I really tried to set up safe guards against this but then our society preaches “authenticity” in caring for our mom friends so much that I started sharing little tid-bits here and there. Just little pieces so I’m not pretending we live in some magical tantrum free land and my kids never scream at or hit each other. Here is the thing though…the slope from “authenticity” to grumbling is pretty slippery. A few helpful “I understand” or ” I have been there” comments or a sympathetic look are great or a one on one venting session with a good friend. Mamas unite! I am not preaching against that but I found myself going downhill fast and it sucks that my kids had to hear that.
Most of us would never complain this way about our spouse or a friend. Do you know the way I’m talking about? This passive-aggressive pretending they can’t hear us way. I have had a few instances recently where I have been struck with conviction about what I am speaking over my children but it turns out it is not an easy habit to break especially when it is a societal norm. This, honestly, has been one of the most challenging aspects of motherhood for me. Using my words to calm my fellow mother’s hearts and to care for the young hearts that can be built up or broken over the words I speak. So here I am publicly declaring my intent to be more gracious with the words I speak. To let my authenticity be filtered through hope and my joy over my children to overflow in encouragement, not judgement. To fight for my children’s hearts and look for opportunities to brag on them. Let them hear me talking about how much joy they bring me, let them see me enjoying them again.
Even one day of intentionality and my sons poor attitude mostly vanished. We had little spats here and there and he is as stubborn as ever but the rain cloud over his head has dissipated. So I’m rejoicing in the good day, motivated to keep up the hard work and grieving over the things I’ve already spoken over him as my “difficult” child. Oh, yes, and praying. Always praying. For wisdom and patience for me, grace for my shortcomings and for my children’s hearts to be rooted in truth.
So as I go forward and try to make a point to be more positive about my children, let me assure you, it doesn’t mean we didn’t all cry in the car this morning. It doesn’t mean my kids don’t have meal time meltdowns, sassy attitudes and leave me questioning my sanity at times. It just means that I love them and I want to do better by them. I will still be there to be a listening ear and I hope never to add to your struggle but my children need me to be warriors for their hearts and that is what I aim to do. I am an authentically flawed woman striving to break a poor habit of grumbling.
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