Why I Don't Want to Be Mrs. Brown
- 2006 30 Oct
The familiar chorus repeats itself. Endeavor to be a better parent. The dissonant sound of distracted parenting clashes with noble ambition.
I did it again today. I lashed out in frustration at my children. It was easy to pretend it was them. They did childish things that annoyed me. My impatience and selfishness was a result of today's doggone poor time management. I got behind and needed to catch up, and my treasured, elevated list is priority at times. I like to believe the reason I get behind is because my children are in front and I'm running after them. Sometimes my sinful heart convinces me that my children's antics cost me minutes, hours, even my day. I say ridiculous things, such as, "You steal my time when you do that. You make work for me that is unnecessary." Those foolish statements only echo back the truth. Give them your time. They are your work.
My days go well until life's dreaded inconveniences occur, things that need dealt with: someone made oatmeal cookies - on the couch, puppy ate a muddy boot, a donut is stuck in the VCR, or some other interruption. I know the optimist says there is no such thing as interruption, just God's sovereign opportunity. I'm not sure how their glass stays full when mine is half empty. Perhaps their children don't drink out of it. I can well handle the spilt milks of life on most days, but not yesterday. Yesterday it was the suitcase interruption that got to me. My son loves to pretend to leave. (I can't imagine why!) He often packs his huge royal blue duffle bag. We unpack the bag. He unpacks the bag. It's not a huge deal, except that it has happened so frequently it's annoying. Picture this. The house was clean, a lovely dinner ready, the children happy, the puppy sleeping, and my pleasant mood awaited hubby, who was due home soon. Then it happened. Sabotage. I come upstairs only to find uninvited guests - Mr. and Mrs. Major Mess. Son has packed the contents of his drawers in his duffle, along with various blankets, animals, and toothpaste. Little sister tried to get her favorite bath towel out of the linen closet. My once neatly folded towels were left in a colorful heap, not to mention daughter flattened the six-pack of toilet paper she used as a footstool. A roll of navy yarn had been haphazardly snipped, a GI haircut for a skein of yarn. Clippings littered the floor. As well, a strange menagerie of toys and other items was scattered about, and for some reason a plastic purple violet in a glass vase sat in water on the boys' dresser. One child "forgot" to make his bed today. The bookshelf I reorganized over the weekend is in disarray, and I wonder how and when this happened ... while I was outside working - pitching puppy poop in the brush pile over the fence. I guess I lingered to play fetch. And I was skimming that magazine. And I had a note to write. And on and on.
My pleasant mood dissolved into scorn. The switch flipped on, and the recording came out. The lecture. The one that says, "You know better than this. Why did you? Clean this up. Do you have to just make messes for the sheer pleasure of making messes?" The really crazy thing is that in 26 years of parenting I've never had one child say, "That was a great lecture. I'm changing my reckless ways. I'm giving up my wayward life of play and mess and mud and imagination and trading it for a smile, a vacuum cleaner, and a willingness to always obey my blessed mom." Lecturing has to be one of the dumbest things I do. My lectures are pretty much pity parties and guilt trips poorly disguised as instructions. "And another thing, if you ever pack this suitcase again for fun, there will be dire consequences." The threat rises within me. "Pay close attention, because your number one pleasure is getting ready to encounter its demise! You may not have ice cream for a long time. A loooooong, loooooooong, looooooong time."
Just about the time I realized I was acting dumb, Daddy came home. And part two of the lecture series emerged. "Your son ... Whawhawhawhawhaw," (Pretend you are hearing Charlie Brown's moms voice - because my oldest told me that is who I sound exactly like during lectures.) "And hubby, I told son if he does that again - well, son, you tell Dad." Son says, "Dad, no ice cream." That's right, I nod with authority. "And tell Dad how long it will be before you get ice cream again.""Dad, no ice cream for 20 minutes."
My lecture again fell on deaf ears. No one brought a recorder. No one studied. No one even took notes. I can't blame them. When I come alongside them to instruct and, yes, even help clean up, and am gentle and kind, their hearing improves dramatically. Truth is, I'm the one who had not been paying attention, acting like a clod. I forgot about the One who comes beside me. It's your kindness, Lord, that leads us to repentance. Help me to be kind instead of a lecturer. Help me identify culprits of mine that cause strife in the life of my family. I cannot manufacture a spirit of peace. Overflow in me as I seek you. Remind me that I have a responsibility to yield to you at all times. Help me to teach and guide and not embark on those pathetic lectures.
This good day, middle daughter put the water pitcher away without refilling it, but I reminded her - not lectured, mind you. "The problem, Mom," she reasoned, "Is I see the pitcher as half full, and you see it as half empty." And I said, "No, the problem is we all get thirsty." So let us all drink from the well that never runs dry.
Things I'm thankful for, Lord: Thank You, Lord, that while I gave the lecture yesterday, daughter cleaned all the Play Mobil off the parlor floor. Days worth of Play Mobil play. Thank You today that the 5-year-old child was drawn to read his Bible much of the day. I heard him mumble aloud, "Oh, Noah was an inventor. He invented the first houseboat." Thank You for all the times my children make me smile. Thank You for a sweet hubby - he talked to the girls and told them be ready Tuesday. He's coming home for lunch and taking all three out on Valentine's Day - even put together gift bags on his own. Thank You, Lord, for speaking to me. This morning I was taking a cruise on the good ship Guilt Trip, lamenting that the boys don't play baseball or ride their bikes enough or participate in gymnastics, year-round swimming, karate, skiing, or mountain climbing like other kids, or whatever I was obsessing over. Anyway, in my quiet time You led me to 1 Timothy 4:8 - "For bodily exercise profiteth little: but godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come." Exercise is great. We can work on it. But we are doing okay focusing on running a race. Thank You that youngest daughter's infected finger is healing. Thank You for Your Word that speaks, convicts, and encourages but never lectures. And Lord, next time I feel a lecture coming on, lead me to 1 Corinthians 2:4 so that my speech and my preaching will not be with enticing words of man's wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power. My words are not enticing, much less wise; let me demonstrate the power of Your Spirit. Thank You that in the midst of my puny little inconveniences, You have chosen to be there with me.
Marla is delighted to have accomplished her childhood dream to be a wife and mommy. Originally a product of the Shenandoah Valley, Marla is still a small town girl at heart and cherishes her family and faith. Presently in her 11th year of homeschooling, she is the mother to seven children, four still at home. Pleasures like a good cup of coffee, or the first hydrangea bloom are simple things she appreciates. Admittedly a bit of a homebody, Marla delights in her family (most days!). Marla is a contributing writer for The Old Schoolhouse Magazine, www.TheHomschoolMagazine.com Copyright 2005 The Old Schoolhouse Magazine, LLC