Once I sent my first grader to school without one of her papers that was due. I just totally forgot about her completing it. Part of me wanted to panic and search for that missing paper 100 miles per hour and then intensely force my precious, tiny child to do this paper. But I stopped and thought: Why would I start her day stressed and rushed? It’s one paper. We can turn it in later for a worse grade.
My one year old really wanted to play outside. I didn’t really want him to because it’s muddy, and I didn’t want to have to clean him up. He wanted to throw sticks and splash in the birdbath full of gross, swampy water. I wanted to grab him and force him inside the house. But I stopped and thought: Is him getting muddy that big of deal? If I have to, I could really just give him a bath and change his clothes.
My four year old didn’t want to rest for quiet time (of course, its purpose was 90% for ME to have quiet time). She kept asking me (rather, yelling at the top of her lungs) to come check on her. Sometimes this insanity makes me lose my temper and threaten her life or yell at her. But today I stopped and thought: She’s so young and doesn’t want to be alone. I need some quiet time, but she has needs, too. It won’t hurt to go kiss her one more time.
My eight year old wanted me to do an Elsa braid in her hair — a braid that should look exactly like Elsa on the ANIMATED movie Frozen. Elsa isn’t even a real person, and I’m no hairstylist, but I did my best. It actually looked kind of good. Yet somehow in one hour she had taken her hair down. I wanted to question why she didn’t leave her hair in the braid that I had put my blood, sweat, and tears. I wanted to give her a bad look to show her my displeasure. But I stopped and thought: Is it worth making my daughter feel guilty over hair? Is the time I got to spend with her such a burden to me that I should make her feel awful? It’s hair. It gave me some time to lovingly touch her and visit. It doesn’t matter how it looks now.
My one year old dropped raisins all over the floor. I hate cleaning the floor and I kept walking past these raisins and thinking how much I didn’t want to clean them up. But eventually I stopped and thought: Although it would have been nice had they never been dropped, it’s also not that big of deal to clean the floor for two minutes. I would rather have more housework because of our precious son than live a day without him.
My four year old was trying to get as close to me as humanly possible while I sat on the floor helping her sister with schoolwork. She accidentally kicked me really hard in the face. I wanted to scream and berate her to be more careful, which I kinda did, but then in the middle of my frustration I finally stopped and thought: She didn’t hurt me on purpose, why would I hurt her with my words? She was actually being sweet and loving and just wanted to be close to me. I have to respond to pain in a more grace-filled way if I want my kids to do the same to each other.
By now it’s only lunchtime, and I’m not telling you even close to all I’ve experienced as a mom today. And of course many of the things we parents deal with are much much more difficult than these tiny annoyances. But as my children are growing I’m having more time to practice parenting, I’m seeing the big picture better.
We must try harder to STOP and THINK before we react to our kids actions we don’t prefer.
Are my actions helping my child learn and improve or condemning and hurting him or her?
Am I frustrated by something else and taking it out on my child?
Is my child being disobedient or just being a kid?
For the sake of the next generation, let’s stop and really thinking about what we are doing.