Well, now that you have some background information (in depth), my following blogs will deal with real life stuff...for me. Some from the past that have been resolved and some real-time situations. Today's post deals with parenting on an everyday level with everyday stress but a larger than life reaction...until my focus changes. I belong to local MOPS group (Mothers Of Preschoolers) and our theme this year is Adventures in Mothering, so I wrote this with that theme in mind. I'd love to hear about your "Adventures in Mothering" so leave a comment if you want to vent or share a funny story.
September 30, 2008
Our adventurous day started out on the shaky side when my son, who is homeschooled but takes a class at the public middle school, didn’t want to attend his band class and procrastinated getting ready for it. After much prodding, encouragement and threats of loss privileges, he finally boarded the mommy train with little sister along for the ride.
After dropping off the reluctant dragon, oh, I mean teenager, my daughter and I waited for him at a friend’s house only a few blocks away. I knew our friends might not be home when we arrived, but was assured that they would be home soon. Since it was a nice cool September day, my daughter and I enjoyed the amusements offered by the back yard. I was just noticing how everything was going “according to plan” when it started, those sudden jerks in the ride that make you go “Whoa!”
My first “whoa” was when Allison, my daughter announced that she needed to use the potty, “pee and poop!” she said. “Uh Oh!” The house is locked. Now what? I was able to distract her for a while until the urge surfaced again. This time, my son, David, provided the distraction.
It seems they changed the day for band this week…or so my son reported. He said he asked someone if there was band and they said no. Being gullible, and lacking self-confidence, he believed them. Instead of checking, he took it as his ticket to leave and walked to our scheduled meeting place, the home of our friends, G.G. and Pop-Pop. This would be the second “Whoa!” in the ride.
Well, we had been waiting for G.G. and Pop-Pop about 30 minutes, when Allison grabbed herself and said “I gotta go pee-pee!” and started “The Dance”. This was more than I expected on this particular Mommy Amusement Attraction. After looking up and down the sidewalk to see if some of the neighbors were out, which they weren’t, I quickly decided I needed to take Allison over to the shopping center near-by to use the restroom.
I left David at the house to wait for G.G. and Pop-Pop and quickly took Allison to “go potty.” It was still early on a week day, before 10 am. The choice of stores in the center that might have a restroom was pretty slim. My first choice was the drug store. I discovered there is only one bathroom for the whole shopping center! That’s worse than the lines in the women’s restroom at amusements parks. By this time, I’m praying that Allison is still able to “hold it” and look to the Red Cross office. Surely they’ll have a restroom we could use. Thank God they did! Another Mommy Amusement Attraction survived!
Upon rounding the corner of the street that G.G. and Pop-Pop lived on, as we returned from “the potty,” I was not surprised to see their car out front in it’s usual place. They probably arrived right after Allison and I left. Oh well. At least she made it to the potty on time. Now, had I known what the next amusement attraction was going to be like, I would never have entered the “Fun House”. My son decided to play the “Challenge Authority” game and began his repertoire of touching everything in sight, taking food without asking and taking a T-Shirt (from Israel) that Alice had given to me as a gift. While he did ask if he could wear it, he had already opened the package and was walking away with it before I could comment. In addition to all of this, I perceived him to be generally rude and inconsiderate of our friends and disrespectful of me his M-O-T-H-E-R! Allison was competing for attention and was busy doing her own routine for attention and equality. I was totally out of control and embarrassed by my children’s behavior. I felt insulted by my son’s lack of respect for G.G. and Pop-Pop, whom he loves too. I just wanted to crawl into a hole.
I felt like I was in a fun house were things do not appear as they really are. Could my son really be acting so disrespectful to me and our friends? As most mothers, I took in the expressions on G.G.'s and Pop-Pop's faces. They didn’t really give-way to disapproval, but I was still embarrassed by my children’s behavior, especially my son. Just like the anticipation of topping the hills and curves on a rollercoaster, I could feel the tightness welling up inside me as I searched for a discrete way to discipline my son.
I chose the “private talk” approach in hopes of extinguishing his fiery cravings for attention. I took him outside and around the corner of the building to talk with him and express my disapproval of his behavior. It seemed to work, and he calmed down, but I still felt like the gum on the bottom of someone’s shoe. As tears streamed down my embarrassed face, I apologized to Pop-Pop for my son’s behavior. Then I packed up our things and took them to the car. By this time I had shifted from the “fight” mode to the “flight” mode. I packed the kids in the car and went back to say goodbye to my dear friend G.G.. She embraced me and comforted me with her wise words. She had it right, I needed to praise God for the bad as well as the good, but I just couldn’t bring myself to say words I didn’t mean. I was not grateful for that uncomfortable “character building” moment. I wasn’t blaming God, I just wasn’t thankful for it. In fact, I felt like I was in a cloud of anger and despair all day.
Just as G.G. said, by not giving God praise in that moment, I was giving praise to my number one enemy, Satan. Unfortunately, that victory party lasted all day long. It wasn’t until nearly ten that evening that I could honestly talk to God about my day and praise him for it. By then, the day was over; my opportunity to live for God was over. I was grateful for the day to be at an end and the children in bed, but I was sad that I wasn’t able to withstand, with more Godly confidence, the attacks of the enemy.
1 John 3:18-24 (RSV) says:
Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth. By this we shall know that we are of the truth and reassure our heart before him; for whenever our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and he knows everything. Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence before God; and whatever we ask we receive from him, because we keep his commandments and do what pleases him. And this is his commandment, that we believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ and love one another, just as he has commanded us. Whoever keeps his commandments abides in God, and God in him. And by this we know that he abides in us, by the Spirit whom he has given us.”
God is telling me, all moms and people everywhere, that when we mess up or life doesn’t go according to plan, our tendency is to condemn ourselves. However, God is greater than anything our heart could “feel”. God already knows everything, the deeds, the words said in anger, the motivation of our heart and STILL LOVES US anyway and wants to forgive us.
After seeking God’s forgiveness, if we can just forgive ourselves and stop beating ourselves up, we can stand up in confidence before God. This is a huge, huge, HUGE step in living the kind of life God wants for us and one that I struggle with every day. Shame and guilt, the enemy’s most effective weapons, at least with me and most moms, attempt to crush our spirit making it difficult to reach the security of “confidence before God.” As a result of not making it to the confidence stage, we aren’t able to ask for the help that awaits us, from God to win our fight with the enemy.
How do I get from the “well I screwed up again” stage to the confidence stage? Praise God in all circumstances, even if you don’t feel like. Paul the apostle said in 1 Thessalonians 5:18, “give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” Then again in Ephesians chapter 5 verses 17-21 Paul said, “Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. And do not get drunk with wine, for that is a debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.”
Dear God, thank you for all of my circumstances, the scary ones, the embarrassing ones, the difficult ones the happy ones, the angry ones and the uncertain ones. Thank you also for giving me yet another chance to practice this virtue. Please help me to focus on you and your promises instead of my feelings.