This morning, I completely lost it. We were on the way to school, and already 20 disagreements in, when my eldest refused to sit in her car seat. She kept turning around, facing the back of the car and pulling her knees up under her chin. After asking her twice to please sit nicely, then threatening to pull over, she still did not move except to ask me, for the millionth time, why she could not sit the way she wanted to. In retrospect, I should have pulled over. Instead, I opted to shout at her. Imperfect, fallible me proceeded to berate her at the top of my voice. Her face fell, and she teary-eyed moved to sit nicely, the way I had asked her to do in the first place.
One of the things I catch myself saying often is “I have told you this so many times before, why can’t you listen”. This was definitely this morning’s catchphrase. Yes, I have told her numerous times before, giving reasons and explaining why it is important to be safe in a car, and how her car seat helps me to keep her safe.
After dropping the kids off at school, I walked into a smelly house. We have 2 new kittens, both strays who we adopted a few months ago. The one has learned to use his sandbox and takes his business outside. The other, well let’s just say she struggles to adapt. She uses the sandbox, but then also every piece of exposed carpet she can find in 2 chosen rooms. Coming home I quickly figured out that this morning, she chose to not use the sandbox…
I cleaned her business, scrubbing the carpet, spraying the house to (hopefully) smell better and scrubbing my hands, I realised I wasn’t in the least angry. Slightly annoyed, but not angry. I forgave this cat because u have empathy with her. She had been traumatised and disposed of, and it seems to be manifesting in her toilet habits. Instead of punishing her for something that is overwhelming to her, I choose to give her love and understanding.
Then it hit me: I have to clean up after the cats daily, yet I never shout at or punish them. I have to repeat myself a few times to my kids and I lash out with a verbal or other punishment? Why? How?
Why do I have grace when it comes to the way I treat the animals, but not my kids? Why is it that I expect a five-year-old to remember why she should safely sit in the car, but the kitten doesn’t have to remember to go in the sandbox?
Yes, we are the crown of creation, created with intelligence and higher understanding. But we enter this world as a defenceless baby who needs to learn EVERYTHING about the world. I need to remind myself of this, especially now after realising that I expect too much of my kids.
I also realised that it is far too easy to take out my frustrations on the kids. Especially when they are (unwillingly or unknowingly most of the time) one of the biggest contributors to said frustration. Although that would justify my reaction, I need to remember that it is my job to teach them, to nurture them, to guide them. And here is the “cold water to the face” moment of realisation: what am I teaching them regarding how to act and react in the world? Ouch.
My heart’s desire is to raise strong, capable warriors for God, equipped with the right tools and skills to withstand any storm. Me shouting at them, even if I had told them a thousand times before, is not teaching them anything positive or constructive.
I need to do better because I know better. Luckily I know God’s grace is almost endless, and my kids will forgive me as long as they can see that I am trying to do better. Continually growing and changing, all to become the best mom I can be.
What makes a good mom? You, simply asking the questions and not running away when you hear the answers. I hear I need to give my kids more grace, and I will try and try until I get it right. Here’s to us, the good moms.