Well I hope your evaluation period has been as eventful as mine was. Or maybe I don’t. I don’t know what the win is on that one:)
I’m not necessarily going to post these in any particular order, but I’m going to start with something that I saw a lot in the comments because it was one of my first realizations as well.
So, category one: Life is not a crisis.
And when I say that’s the category, what I mean is that it’s supposed to be what I’m teaching, but upon further investigation I realized there was a serious disconnect between that idea and what I was conveying.
Let me break down some of my popular phrases.
Like, all the time. All. The. Time.
And my tone is typically closer to, “We are being chased by an escaped convict” than “We are running 5 minutes late to a play date at Chic-fil-a.”
Researchers refer to this as “chronic overreaction mode,” and identify unhealthy patterns we are beginning to see in children who are growing up in a constant “fight or flight” mode. Everything is treated as an emergency.
Not too long ago I walked into my bathroom and saw Charlotte playing with my high heels, holding a purse. She was fumbling with getting the second shoe on and kept saying things like, “Okay, go. Alright. Let’s hurry. Almost done…” while acting like her entire person was on fire.
Apparently panic is the new tea party.
And here’s the part I found the most ironic. A good percentage of the time (at least half, I would guess), there was actually no time constraint that would lead to comments like this. It’s like I have an internal clock that tells me I need to speed things up even when there’s no external reality demanding it.
The bottom line is that oftentimes I create an atmosphere of stress and perceived need when there is none. I’m really feeling like there’s not a positive outcome by insisting that every moment in life serves to make you feel like you’re late for the next one.
It has gotten to the point where I genuinely have trouble just enjoying the calm because I feel like there must be something pressing that I’m missing somewhere.
And they feel it, no question. They feel shuffled and controlled and, well, like they need to get on board mommy’s crazy train or else they might just get left behind.
All aboard, kids. Don’t mind me driving with the trunk open-we HAVE TO GET TO PUBLIX BEFORE THEY SELL OUT OF APPLES AND CEREAL AS THEY OFTEN DO.
I was curious how many times Jesus told people to hurry; want to take a guess?
Technically, there was one time. He was talking to Zacchaeus and told him to hurry and come down from the tree so He could go have dinner with him, but the original Greek word implies something more than just “speed it up.” Namely, that Jesus wanted him to listen right away and be convicted…not so much that He was worried the grits were burning. It was an urging to move, make haste in pursuing goodness. Not exactly what I mean when I say it.
I don’t want my children to grow up feeling like they were always hurried. Yes, there will be times when we need to, umm, make haste, but that doesn’t need to be the standard protocol.
On the other hand, I’m pretty good about doing the opposite when they are on the asking end. Here are my other frequent “time-related” comments. See if any of them sound familiar.
Not right now, honey.
Maybe in a minute.
Just a sec.
Give me a minute.
Again, why? Because I really can’t do it right that second? No. Not usually. More likely it’s because it’s my knee-jerk response. I’m not kidding when I say I caught myself using those words in completely illogical situations, simply because they so frequently fall out of my mouth. Telling my children to wait is like breath to me. And it’s a proud moment, let me tell you.
Now, of course there are times when these are appropriate, but “Could you pass the broccoli” is not one of them. Oh, you want to color with me? Maybe later. (2 minutes pass) “Hurry and come here girls! I need to run out real quick…
It’s a tug of war, and nobody wins. And the fact of the matter is, the heart response is the same for them: “I am the priority, and my schedule is boss. Work around me.”
I’m painting a rough picture here, and I don’t want it to feel like we’re signing up our kids for therapy just because we’ve done this, but I do think we need to assess it.
What’s the reason I do that? I guess because at the ugliest level, I want to be in charge of the hours. I get frustrated when it’s not done the way I want it to be. And have I conveyed to them that they are to squeeze themselves into the gaps according to my preferences?
I hope I haven’t, but I could feel the Lord showing me my own sin in this area right away. Don’t misunderstand me-I am in charge of them, and they are to respect me. The issue is that I have put too much emphasis on a non-issue, and have often missed the big picture of teaching them to love and serve one another.
Jesus doesn’t tell them they need to work their way into His demanding schedule. He doesn’t tell them they’re in the way of His more important stuff. He doesn’t keep typing when they wander in, telling them He’ll be out in a minute.
He doesn’t hold up a “shushing finger” while talking on the phone, explaining that He’ll be right there.
I know. We can’t be Jesus.
But the goal is to be as much like Him as we can be.
Parenting has the potential to teach us to die to self more than almost any other relationship, and assessing our failures has beautiful fruit-for us and our children.
So, the challenge for this week is to watch the rushing and the pausing. If they’re legitimate and necessary, sure. But you might be surprised at how often they aren’t.
Or at least it would be nice if you could tell me that was the case.
Assuming that you recognize any of these tendencies in yourself, I’ll tell you what I’ve done to try and combat it.
I sent them to boarding school.
Sorry. Kidding. It’s been a long day.
No, actually what I’ve found is that every time I use an uneccessary “NOW!” phrase, I apologize. I tell them I shouldn’t have acted like it was so dramatic. And we laugh about it.
So much of good parenting is about making life a safe place for grace.
I’ll tell you this too: when I do tell them it’s time to go, they are a whole lot more likely to come running than they were a few months ago. It’s not a perfect science, but I’ve seen a difference. And in retrospect, “running” wasn’t the right word. I meant “meandering in a semi-dressed and quasi-obedient manner.”
On the other end of the continuum, and because it was really something I felt the Lord impressed upon me, I have drastically reduced my usage of the “hang on” type comments. If I’m asked a question, I try my best to respond in a gracious, honest way. If it’s something I can’t physically do, I explain that. But I’ll just go ahead and tell you it’s pretty rare that I’m duct-taped to my chair, incapable of coming to look at the newest member of Kate’s earthworm collection.
I don’t really need a minute.
They, on the other hand? Do.
I’m praying for all of you mommies out there as you evaluate yourself in light of this stuff-and as always, I sure would love to hear any thoughts you want to share.
Remember, friends-life is not a crisis 🙂