I am doing my devotions this morning about kindness and gentleness as a parent. I struggle with this and know I will find encouragement here. (What I am actually doing is just reading through the past two weeks of the study I haven’t done.) I’m not looking up references in scripture, I’m not filling in all the blanks. I am just reading and writing down any big bright thoughts that show up.
I am crying through a story Beth Moore tells in the study about the four year old boy they adopted. His hands and feet and head were not in proportion to the rest of his body. The doctor said it was from a lack of affection. The guardian didn’t hold the boy as a baby or as a toddler or as a tiny child, so he would fall and get a bloody knee and just stand, hands clenched, removed from his pain. Eventually Beth and her husband loved him and prayed over him enough that he learned to cry, to laugh....then his birth mother took him back. She talked about the pain of letting him go and I just cried. I am not a crier. This hurt my heart.
I prayed and cried for abused, abandoned, neglected children. I ached over the times I am not so gentle and kind with my own two precious daughters. I prayed that God would help me be kinder and less selfish with them. I want to parent with joy and energy and love and God.
Ol Padnah blessed me immensely this morning by showing me two things just this week that happened. Two instances where I did parent differently than my usual.
The first time, Portia made a snowball turtle. Due to her age and related talent levels, her turtle looked exactly like a clump of snow. I often compliment PK on her creativity and her imagination. I was like that as a child too.
She carried it carefully in her mitten as she rode in the stroller back to the house. It fell out. She freaked out. I kept walking (tired and hungry and eager to get home) and then her tears rolled down her cheeks. Normally I would have gently or not so gently reassured her, justified leaving it behind and kept heading home....but This week. This Week I stopped walking and crouched down to her level. I saw how important it was to her in her child heart, even though I didn’t understand. And this mama walked back to pick up the snow clump baby turtle. Maybe you see this as normal parenting. I know that could be basic expected good parenting, but for me, it is a mama growing past herself to love her daughter with gentleness and kindness and I am grateful to see that change in me.
The other incident was last night. I was trying to make a delicious albeit vegan pizza for my family. We do not mess around with food, we love it. We are serious about it. I often cook and bake with my kids, but when I am focused on something tricky...they gotta git out of the tiny red kitchen. There might be a lot of yelling. So when I am handling hot pizza crust and a 500 degree oven and sautéing and blending and chopping and then Portia keeps doing laps through the VERY tiny kitchen barking like a dog that should be wearing a shock collar (I’m just sayin’) after I asked her not to several times, I had had it. I hollered in an ungentle fashion and put her in time out. I was mad.
You cannot get mad in a kitchen, it makes the food sad.
So I went to my crying daughter. I sat on the floor in front of her. I reassured her that I remember being a child, tiny and then embarrassingly enough, not so tiny (14y.o.!!) playing imaginative games like she was. I asked her what she thought if I played dog with her for five minutes after I got the pizzas in the oven, as long as she stayed out of the kitchen in the meantime.
I wish you could have seen her face. She glowed with the face of a small person being validated. She felt important, listened to, respected. PLUS Mama was going to treat her like a real dog! And I did. I rolled a ball. I had her do tricks. I gave her a treat. It was good for both of us and just those few minutes were enough for her.
It can be hard for me to stop what I am doing for anyone, especially for little kiddos who I can tell ’no’. I have been working and praying and sharing this mamahood struggle and God gently showed me this morning that I am getting better. I am being sweeter and gentler with my girls and I am Becoming a Better Mama. And oh, friends....it is always a BECOMING. AMEN!
As a side note, a story from my draft pile: After a past "Mother of the Year" style yelling my way to ten quiet minutes to myself, my littles came to me.
"We are catching a cold". They are holding hands, they are healthy. They are cute.
I ask, "How did you catch a cold? Where did you catch it?"
The Big One says, "From a sea turtle."
"Oh." Say I. "Was it sneezing? What did it sound like?"
And that, my darlings, is how a turtle sneezing sounds.
May God bless you with patience and gentleness and His GOODNESS in your parenting moments. Choose to enjoy the snow turtles and pat the pretend dogs on the head. Take a deep breath and know it is always a becoming.
What are your parenting struggles? Any tips for the rest of us? I bet we can all relate and help each other!