I know what you are thinking. You’re thinking I’m going to chime in on about how deserving we are as mothers and wives and as friends to give ourselves frequent time outs full of shopping and naps and good coffee, right? I mean listen, a girl needs some alone time, hello.
Oh believe me, I most certainly think we all deserve any of the above and a lot more. You know, like spa days and a girl’s night out (hint, Mother’s Day is fast approaching) but this time, I’m not talking about a time out for respite or rejuvenation. You see, I haven’t been too deserving of any special treats or fun coffee dates this week. Let me explain.
I believe that in order to be all that God created us to be, we need to have our priorities in check. Mind, body, and soul. And yes, coffee breaks are included in these priorities. A good coffee date can do wonders for a woman’s wits end. Let me tell you. But sometimes, a minute to yourself or a quick getaway can’t help a shot nerve. Or what about the simple fact that reality is full of last nerve moment? There’s not enough hours in the day to for as many time outs as we could use!
Let me just share with you my thoughts, my day. I’m reflecting on my behavior this week. I’m talking about the wide eyed screaming followed by the fierce threatening that so easily fell out of my mouth. And then there was the pressure cooker attitude that was so quick to explode and the frequent tears of frustration over dog walks and spilled milk happening too. And you know, I could excuse all my actions with the plea that I need a break or it’s all proof of a much needed time out but I’m wondering, has that become an easy excuse?
Don’t get me wrong, time outs are necessary to take care of yourself. But so are time outs. I’m talking, remove yourself from the situation and give yourself a “come to Jesus” talk before touching anything else.
Now granted, I did have the stomach virus this week and spent several days in the bed praying for relief or death, whichever would come first and then, before I even caught a breath of fresh air, my family jumped into the car to go camping. Are we crazy or what? And now, we are cramped into a small space full of demanding children, late homework due, and a dog. I mean, I just need a break, right? That’s why I’m screaming like a mad woman at the drop of another crumb, right? Um, no.
It is so easy to use the “mommy break” as an excuse for a tantrum or a breakdown. I’m not saying I don’t need a nap but I can’t use my tiredness or frustration or bad day as an excuse to be a poor example for my children. To take it out on them. Or even my husband for that matter. Or others in the campground who may or may not be peeking out their windows to see just what the chaos is all about.
As a mother, I have a responsibility. First to God, then my girls. God tells me…
“Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.” Ephesians 6:4
Healthy discipline? Yes. Healthy explanation of the problem? Yes. Healthy correction? Yes. Fits of anger? No. Lack of patience ending in screaming? No. Spewing hurtful words? No. Using “I need a break” as an excuse for my bad behavior? No.
Parenting is hard. And I’m sure you’ve noticed a theme that I struggle with in the words that I share. Remember, we don’t judge here at Story of My Heart. We are just girls who said yes to God to live out our struggles publicly in hopes that the change He is doing in us would invade your lives as well.
Do you realize that discouragement and guilt and fear, all of which can be triggered by a parental melt down, will shape who your children become? That how we treat them, how we speak to them, the example of how we handle our own irritability will mold who they become as parents themselves? Oh man, what pressure.
And do you know that God reminds us of the very same thing again in His word? Check it out.
“Fathers, do not exasperate your children, so that they will not lose heart.” Colossians 3:21
I’m thinking it’s really not kosher for me to lose my cool so quickly with my children and act out or discipline them from my own erratic emotions or behavior, especially when I’m the real issue. And although these verses are wise counsel for discipline, they are also guidance for our relationships with our children daily. To not nag, belittle, or destroy their impressionable little hearts at any given time that we just feel fed up.
I don’t know about you, but I have some repenting to do. First to my Heavenly Father who so graciously offers me mercy and grace and then, my children. Whom are owed an apology and an example of repentance and grace. Who deserves reassurance that they are not the sum of my emotions and harshness on bad days but instead, I own my sin and will admit my faults. My issues. My choices.
As parents, we will screw up. As parents, we will throw our now temper tantrums. But when we do, instead of condemnation and bad habits forming, we just need to ask for forgiveness, receive grace, and give love. Gently offer explanations of consequences when one chooses self over God and make parables out of our own mess. That my friends, is parenting.
Oh, and by the way. I don’t think I ruined the whole trip with my selfish meltdowns. Here’s some evidence with some smiles!