Sometimes, the message gets through. I can imagine God and the angels singing, Halleluiah!
Finally, He says. And then, He sighs.
It's hard work being God and trying to transform this child's heart. I am emotional. I take a lot of things personally that I should not. I am passionate. I am stubborn and I want to be right. All of these things, while they have excellent upsides (except maybe the last two), mix them together on certain days and well, I am sure you can see the smoke and smell the fumes.
I have been actively trying to remain in control when my emotions run high and my two darling daughters decide that today is the day to push Mom's buttons. Today was definitely the day. I was tested and I think I might have actually passed.
It wasn't the perfect score. I wasn't flawless, but everyone emerged with their dignity. There were no guilt-trips (I fixed you the perfect lunch and now you can't even clean up your blocks?). There were no outlandish consequences (If you don't clean up this mess right now, you will not go to Florida!). There was no passive-aggressiveness (Well, fine then! I'll just do it myself!).
Okay, I did raise my voice (a.k.a. yelling) and I think I caught myself shaking my finger at them. I was not able to fully communicate without letting them know that I was livid. I did have to try a couple of decisions on before I arrived to the one I felt was appropriate (If you talk while I'm talking again, you will stay in your room until your father gets home!). Hmmm, for some of you, that may count as an outlandish consequence. Anyhoo...
The bottom line came down to this: My children neglected to clean up the blocks on the floor after I had asked them several times. The last straw was when they hid behind the television from me when I was coming down the stairs. Finally (after all of the above happened), I sat them down. Here's the deal. In our family, we treat people with love and respect. You are not showing me love or respect by your actions. I need you to stay in your beds until you can change your heart. You can always pray to Jesus to help you make the right decision. That's what I have to do.
Now, I'm not saying that this will work every time, but I think I might try this first instead of yelling or threatening next time. Within a minute, both of the girls were lined up. They said they were sorry and told me what they were sorry for. They told me that they wanted to make better choices. I told them they were forgiven. They gave me a kiss and a hug and then went straight to their beds for rest time.
When I went in later to tell them that they could finish the rest of their quiet time by playing together in their room, Abby said, Can we finish our rest time watching Cinderella III? I told her that no, rest time meant upstairs in her room, playing quietly. Okay, Mommy. I understand the deal.
Maybe next time, I'll get it right the first time instead of the third. Maybe next time, they'll clean up when I ask them to. Maybe next time, my first instinct as to how to discipline will be purely to teach them and I won't have to fight the battles of passive-aggression, guilt-induction, or idle threatening.
But for right now, I'll settle for a less than perfect victory. I'll settle for grace for me in my parenting and grace for my children in growing up.