I have given a great deal of prayer time, intention to, and work towards growing who I am as a mother. This notion that there is always tomorrow to try again, that is fine and well, but I am learning – I accept – that what truly matters is, ‘who am I right now?’ What kind of mother am I this instant.
As I devote this prayer to God, I have been asking him to show me where I most need improvement. ‘Where does it count the most’, I ask.
I got down on the floor and built castles with my girls today – without my phone, without music playing, without being distracted by a single thing else.
I helped them stay focused as together we cleaned downstairs – sticking to the schedule we had made which includes housework together, and the norm that they will help with chores – alongside, I verbalized the lesson that we take care of what we’ve been provided, and it matters if our house is clean because it’s about respecting this space that we call home.
I brought Layla through a behavioral pattern that has been affecting her siblings, and me, recently. Instead of shout at her, I walked over to her calmly and asked her to follow behind me. I called her attention to, by making her walk me through it, what she had done. My voice never raised, her guard slowly lowered… She began to tell me her feelings – something she’s never expressed so concisely. That she, because she feels she is not as close to Layla and Jemma as she would like [because she spends half of her time at her father’s house] has been acting out at them. She articulated, “I yell in their face so loud, and make them cry, and then I comfort them and make them feel better – and they love me more after that because I helped them”.
What an articulate, emotionally evolving expression. Because I did not raise my voice, or react in my typical manner which is to say I dismiss the opportunity to listen, and hear the underlying cause of her behavior, but instead react swiftly and punish – I was able to understand my child, and then offer some alternative methods to getting her sister’s affections, time, and love. I then related to her, telling her that I too come from a divorced family, and I understand what she is feeling. This, had I reacted, would have gone vastly different, and we would have missed this time to grow together in our understanding of one another. We would have lost the chance to empathize and connect.
I happily did my work instead of walk around tense and accusatory that my children are indeed acting like children, which means sparkles are ALL OVER the floor (that I just swept ten minutes ago). The counters smell like Mrs. Meyers parsley spray and the re-heat spaghetti sauce in the microwave has been scrubbed off at long last.
God showed me where it counts the most today. My actions. My time. My behavior. Each passing moment is an opportunity to BE better, not just hope I will be better, but hold myself accountable to what I know I am capable of. He showed me, today, what I am capable of. And it made a difference in how I parent my children, it made a difference in the overall mood of our household. It shows me that who I am, as a mother, matters. How I guide my children matters, right now. Right this instant.
A lot is presently changing under this roof. From the plans to paint our dining room table, and reupholster the chairs finally, to altering the very foundation upon which I parent my children. Big things. Things one can visualize as they step beyond our front door, to complex internal dialogues and vocal encouragements towards myself and the beings I created, there is a shift taking place.
Changes I am greatly exhilarated to experience.
For this is life, right now. This moment. It matters. Tomorrow your problems won’t be solved if you don’t first recognize, assess, and work on them today. I am not sure why I fought so hard against this notion that I can change. God has been waiting on me, no doubt ready to show me that He does permit great things to come from me, but I must trust Him and go for it; this is not just going to magically happen – I won’t just wake up tomorrow and get there without doing my part.
I saw today that the kind of attention, and devotion, and care I’ve always dreamed to give my kids is not just sporadically plausible; it is not just a fluke or an odd day wherein we happen to get along perfectly well, and it is not random. It requires prayer, and intention, and work.
I am the example. I am the leader of the band; they’re looking to me to guide them – this, because I am charged to be their mother, is on ME.
I desire for my children to grow up with a strong sense of family. Family meant dinner on the table, with no television, and my mom’s secret sauce on BBQ chicken. Family meant taking the time to understand each other, giving one another grace when we stumble, and helping each other get back up. Family meant forgiveness, and encouragement, and trusting that what matters most is the love, loyalty, and strength we give each other.
I am their mother. This is on me to teach them, and I am so grateful that I get to do this – what a shame that I would ever waste a moment taking this less than most seriously. Today, my prayer was answered. Today mattered. It is THAT right there that makes me so excited for whatever tomorrow will bring, and I will go forward trusting that I can BE better, because today I am.