Tuesday, October 17, 2017
It was a beautiful fall day, the kind where the bright sunlight doesn't compete with the coolness of the air. Perfect for sitting out on the deck and enjoying the vibrant palette of fall colors on display at every turn of the head. Not too hot, not too cold-- just right in a very New England sort of way.
To say my mind was spinning at her statement during our deck coffee date might sound a bit overly dramatic. Honestly, I would take it a step further and say, "mind blown".
I grasped my coffee cup, coffee now cold, as her simple words linked together the pieces of puzzle that had been floating around inside my head for years. Maybe not even just from the start of parenthood. For my whole life.
Such simple words, such an impact.
"Stuff doesn't matter," she said, referring to why she didn't get upset at her kids when her kids would accidentally break her things. "Stuff doesn't matter, THEY matter."
Immediately my mind applied this to my children and how when they break my things, more than I care to remember, I get angry and rather yell-y. Okay a lot yell-y.
But her statement made me stop and ponder. When I yell, does that inadvertently tell them that in that moment, they don't matter to me as much as my stuff?
What about when we are trying to get out the door and someone accidentally does something to waylay my beautifully orchestrated plan to be on time for school and I lash out with a heated response?
Am I saying, "Listen, kid, us being on time is way more important than you."?
I realized I could substitute that phrase for many things.
"My career, my ambitions, they don't matter. You matter."
"Your diagnosis, it doesn't matter. You matter."
"My idea of what motherhood should look like doesn't matter. You matter."
Am I treating my children in a way that they know that they matter? More than the words I say...but rather, HOW I treat them?
I struggle with the patience thing. So many pieces are being balanced so many directions to mother 4 small kids and do all the things that go along with that. When those pieces are swatted out of the way by my kids who I am doing these things FOR and the delicately managed mountain of chaos all around me begins to collapse...I am ashamed to admit that my first response is to get upset.
I posted about such an instance this week. About yelling at Addison as she spilled her cereal all over the floor right as we were leaving for school.
And I apologized. "Addison baby, I'm so sorry I yelled at you. Mommy was wrong. Can you please forgive me?"
And she did. Quickly, with the tears still drying on her cheeks.
But my heart. I begged God to please, please give me the patience next time. I can't do this on my own. Motherhood is very good at ripping open my very soul and revealing my desperate need for Jesus.
I want my kids to know that they matter. I want to show them love, not just tell them the empty words, "I love you" while showing them every second of the day that I love my agenda more.
And so as his flushed, smiling cheeks refuse settle on his pillow at night, his wide, innocent 3-year-old eyes and sweet mouth begging for yet another hug. Another kiss. A song. I recognize that in that moment he matters more than my evening rest time.
When she struggles to get ready for school, and my patience wants to snap and explode, I see her need for help and encouragement. That she matters more than being on time. That she might just need an extra minute and help to get those tights just right.
When mealtime is not the calm, peaceful cover picture from the 50s with smiling children and properly held forks and plates NOT dumped all over the floor...teaching them calmly is more important than a clean floor. Because they matter.
Several people made the comment to me this week that it was good for Addison to see me apologize. That she needs to see that too.
This got me thinking. I am an imperfect human being raising imperfect human beings. My job isn't to be a perfect mother or get frustrated as my humanness bleeds through. My job is to show them how to live imperfectly. How to make mistakes and apologize. How to humbly ask for forgiveness. How to model imperfection and life dependent on Jesus.
All the while showing them that they matter.
Not making them the center of the universe. Not making them feel like nothing in the world matters but THEM.
No. This is more of a heart attitude of me to them in those moments where I think my entire being might burst with anger, with impatience, with a day gone wrong because of them being...children.
This is a reminder to me to replace the yelling and anger with calm, teachable moments. With as much for me to learn as for them.
They matter enough for me to treat them with all the kindness the Lord has to give.
God has been so good over my course of motherhood to help me with this. I am so far from perfect, but I see so many instances where Deanna of 8 years ago would have lashed out but the Deanna of today responds kindly because it's actually not Deanna's strength at all. This perspective reminder continued a work that the Lord has been doing in my heart for years but that for some reason the last few weeks I have hit a major stall on. Until I heard these simple words uttered with such love.
So I sat across from my friend, the light fall breeze whispering through my hair, and I felt the enormity of this concept sink down into my brain and transform my bad attitude toward my children. And even perhaps, a little toward myself.
Because I matter too.
I know this not because my friend said the words, but because she sacrificed her entire morning to sit with me on my deck and talk about motherhood and life and everything inbetween. She showed me that I matter. And this gentle, teachable moment was not lost on me.