Parenting for the Love of It

Happy August, everyone! And a warm welcome to those who are new to this blog. I’m so glad you’re here. I feel bad I haven’t been posting regularly, but there was a thing called life—and more specifically, kids—that grabbed my attention for the better part of three months! But school has started, so thank the Lord for that. 😉

Speaking of thanking God, there’s so much I’m grateful to Him for, even the life lessons I’ve struggled to learn. This summer was a big turning point for me personally in being able to tackle and overcome challenges. Because, for the first year ever, the munchkins spent their vacation at home instead of going to summer school. And I had to learn how to adjust my expectations and attitude—big time! Meaning, I had to throw my “me time” out the window and focus on my hardest, most challenging job of being a mom. For an almost only child who is a recovering perfectionist (aka. control freak) who happens to also be highly sensitive, this was no small feat. Mainly because I wanted to make my time with my kids enjoyable. Which meant saying no to yelling, to harboring resentment, and to putting my work first. Instead, I wanted—wanted, being the key word—to say yes to having fun together, to spending quality and quantity time, and to making my kids a priority in my heart, mind, and schedule. (Did I mention, I’m an overachiever, too?) But of course, wanting and doing are often two very different things.

So, did I make it?

Well, yes … and no. 😉 I was pretty amazed at myself (haha!) and would probably give myself at least a B+, maybe even an A-, for my efforts. My kids though? They’re a much harder crowd to please.

During our last week of vacation, I took them out for lunch to one of their favorite noodle places. While we slurped up noodles and crunched on fried won tons, I asked them what they thought of their summer. How did it compare to previous years when they had gone to summer school? How was it different this year since they got to stay home? I pretty much asked the question every which way possible, making sure to hint at the fact that it should have been a very different, totally more awesome, summer vacation because I, their amazing mother, had spent the better part of sixty days with them. I was practically shining my “Best Mother of the Year” trophy by the end of my speech.

And what did they say?

Nothing. *Cue the sound of crickets*

Maybe their mouths were too full to answer? Maybe they were so in awe of my sacrificial nature that they were speechless? Haha, nope! When my oldest munchkin finally swallowed his food, he replied with a straight face, “My mother yelled too much.”

WHAT?!?! How rude! (And yes, my kids like to refer to me in the third person for some strange reason. LOL)

When I relayed this conversation to hubby later, he tried to console me by saying, “The kids wouldn’t have said any of the things you wanted them to say.”

Hmph. Okay, fine. I guess it wasn’t realistic to expect them to break out in a round of applause and give me a standing ovation in the middle of a crowded restaurant. Or for them to break down in happy tears as they showered me with praise. Now that I’m thinking about this, I can see very clearly how out of my mind I was to have even asked the question in the first place. 😉 Especially since my pre-teens no longer think I’m cool and are more apt to roll their eyes and make sarcastic comments. (And for the record, I raised my voice a LOT less this summer! LOL)

Anyhow, I’ve come to realize that I can’t parent my kids expecting to receive anything in return. Of course there are appropriate times for good manners and etiquette, but when it comes to making sacrifices for my kids, it’s not a give and take situation. It’s a one hundred percent commitment on my part to be the best parent I can be. To care, lead, guide, teach, listen to and yes, to sacrifice for them because I choose to. Not because I’ll get anything in return.

You could say I’m parenting for the love of it.

Doing anything you’re passionate about requires time, endurance, and sacrifice. So much sacrifice. But it’s worth it. Because my kids are worth it. 🙂

What are you doing simply for the love of it?

An Ode to Winter Break

Oh Winter Break, how I loathe—ahem, love!—thee. Let me count the ways.

One, you arrived so quickly after Thanksgiving break, which only ended twenty-four and a half days ago.

Two, you bring me ample amounts of time to spend with my children and make it too easy for them to invade my bubble morning, noon, and night.

Three, you trick me into thinking bedtime is near when the sky grows dark at five o’clock … when in reality, there are many hours left to endure.

Four, you actually last long enough (2 weeks, baby!) to the point where I’ve gotten kinda used to having my routine thrown off.

Five, you make me appreciate not having to pack lunches every night or rush around every morning.

Six, you force me to slow down and just be present with my kids, even as I fight the urge to check my phone.

Seven, you’ve given me plenty of chances to play board games, take silly selfies, do crafts, play video games, and eat lunch with two of the most important people in my life.

Eight, you help me rethink my priorities and encourage me to make decisions I won’t regret (years from now when the kids are grown).

Nine, you challenge me to be a better parent—one who chooses relationships over rules, routines, and rigidity.

And ten (the reason why I love you the most): You are SO MUCH shorter than summer break. 😉

On a more serious note (haha), I have been mostly enjoying winter break with the munchkins at home. Spending time with them during the day means lots of late nights so I can catch up on work, but it’s all good. They are totally worth it. I’m not saying I always choose wisely or even feel loving and patient all the time (I’m human after all!), but I’m much more mindful of making my relationship with them a priority. It’s not easy or natural for me to do this, which is why I’m SO grateful I recently came across the parenting blog, Untigering.com, and its Facebook group. Every one of Iris’s posts has resonated with me and moved me to reconsider my parenting style. I highly recommend checking it out (especially if you’re needing a sanity saver during winter break).

On another note, for this new year, I’ve decided to adjust my posting schedule on my blog from weekly to bi-weekly. This is mostly to save my sanity as I try to balance my roles as writer, wife, mother, sister, aunt, daughter, and friend. My author career really picked up last year and I’d love to continue to grow that part of me. I’m trying to focus my energy and efforts on doing what is sustainable because, as I’ve come to realize, there is only one of me and only 24 hours in a day. I thank you so much for following along with me on my blogging journey, and I hope you will continue to do so every other week. 🙂 As always, feel free to comment and let me know your thoughts.

I’ll leave you with this powerful song from The Greatest Showman, “This Is Me”, sung by Keala Settle. The heart and raw passion that she sings with will blow you away. I’ve been listening to the soundtrack on repeat ever since I bought it, and the munchkins are even listening and singing along! Now I just have to watch the movie. 😉

How do you remind yourself to value relationships over rules, routines, and rigidity?

9 Clues You’re a Parent of a Pre-Teen

I am now a parent of a pre-teen. And as a parent of a pre-teen, I have discovered it’s (cue the soundtrack from Aladdin) a whole new world, baby. What do I mean? Let me break it down for you with …

9 Clues You’re a Parent of a Pre-Teen

  1. There’s a taller person in the house. You can actually look this person almost in the eye, which is quite amazing considering he/she used to fit in the crook of your arm.
  2. This taller person has a much bigger appetite. Like an eat-half-a-large-pizza-by-himself appetite (and that’s only for a snack).
  3. You feel a lot less cool because there’s a lot of eye-rolling directed your way these days. The same kind of eye-rolling you might have done in the presence of your own parents before you realized they were cooler than you thought.
  4. You feel like you’re losing control. While there is no such thing as control in parenting, there’s a lot less of it when you can’t wrangle a kid who comes up to your nose and can also talk back.
  5. Your feet seem smaller. Only because the ones that used to follow you around everywhere are now the same size as yours.
  6. You find yourself praying more (refer back to #4). Mainly for yourself because you feel like you don’t know what the heck you’re doing anymore and need the patience and endurance of a saint.
  7. You reminisce a lot about the good ‘ol days, especially when old pictures pop up on Facebook, and you miss (almost) everything about the baby and toddler stages. But not enough that you’d want to do it again because you are TIRED.
  8. You’re constantly in awe of the fact that you’re helping to shape a child in becoming an adult. This fact also causes you great dismay because you’re still working on this adulting business yourself (refer to #6).
  9. Your hugs are often rejected (sniff sniff!) … but when they aren’t, the experience is unbeatably sweet and precious and amazing.

What thoughts do you have about parenting a pre-teen? What do you wish your parents knew about you during your pre-teen years?

Speaking of teens, here’s a new boy band that was put together on the show, Boy Band, and their single, “Eyes Closed”. A few of them are only a couple of years older than my munchkin! Yikes. 😛

Thoughts on Going to Jail

The munchkins know to ask for approval before they download a game to play on the iPad. The process usually goes something like this: 1) Munchkin shows me the game; 2) I peruse the description, rating, and reviews; 3) I say yay or nay. It’s a pretty straightforward and quick process, and so far we’ve been able to keep the games age-appropriate and family-friendly. That is, until recently.

Lo and behold, I’ve discovered my mama brain doesn’t function too well during the summer. It could be that I don’t have enough me-time during the day, so I end up staying up way too late at night, and the gears in my head just don’t turn as fast when they’re tired. Or I could just be getting old. 😉 Either way, when one of the munchkins asked me to approve a game the other week, I inadvertently agreed to let them go to jail.

Yup. The game is all about trying to escape from prison.

What was I thinking?! At first, I reasoned it was a good game for problem-solving because breaking out of a locked establishment would require using your brain to come up with a plan and then to implement said plan. What I didn’t think through were the reasons why one would be in jail in the first place and how breaking out of jail would be a crime. Playing this game would in a sense make my child guilty of not just one crime, folks, but two! I had basically given a thumbs-up to illegal activity.

Sigh. Can we say, #mamafail?

All was not lost though! (There’s always gotta be a bright side to things, right?) 😉 Because life is all about trying and failing and trying again, I decided to make the best of this opportunity. We talked about what prison life is like (based off what I know from TV shows and books, not my own personal experience, mind you!), and also increased our knowledge of some key vocabulary words (e.g. warden). I also talked about my friend and former classmate who currently works as a therapist in prison. And get this, he’s not just a therapist for one jail, folks, but two! (Yes, he’s as awesome as he sounds!) And I even managed to share about how a large percentage of prisoners are from fatherless homes and the implications of that. Amazingly enough, I was able to use a game about jail to strike up some interesting and educational conversations about life. God’s grace, folks, God’s grace! 🙂

And to top it all off, I heard from my therapist friend recently that the Moodkins have become quite a hit in—you guessed it!—jail.

The therapists are using them for one-on-one counseling, as well as group therapy with the prisoners. Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine the cute therapy plush toys I created for kids to be helpful for adults, too. It’s been a huge blessing and affirmation for me to see them making a difference in schools, counseling centers, and now—prison. It just goes to show, you never know how God will use our small stuff for bigger purposes. 🙂

All this is to say that there’s been a lot of talk about jail in our home lately. There’s never a dull moment in parenting, is there? But thank God for His grace and providence in working everything out for good.

I hope you’ve had a good summer! We have less than one week of vacay here and then I’ll be back to my regular blogging schedule. As always, thanks for reading and sharing in my journey. 🙂

What have you been doing this summer? How have you seen God at work in your life? Tell me in the comments below! 🙂

When Parenting Feels Like Construction Work

I used to think raising babies and toddlers and preschoolers was hard. Oh, those years are long and wild and most of all, tiring, but the upside is that they’re simpler. Most of the time, you feel like you’re working in a production line, going through the same motions (feed, change, sleep, repeat) every single day, but a lot of it is “mindless” work. (Until the tantrums start. Lol) Raising a tween, on the other hand … THAT. IS. HARD.

I wish I could go into details about what we’ve been going through, but the munchkin who has requested to not be mentioned on social media ever again would not approve, so I must respect his wishes. 🙂 Suffice it to say, I told hubby the other day that I am seriously considering dyeing my hair because my white hair is doubling by the week. Groan … mutter … sigh!

Even as I’m praying and struggling through these new challenges, I’m reminding myself that this is all normal. Kids are supposed to grow up, “find themselves”, and navigate that fine line between dependence and independence. During this time, however, bad attitudes, hurt feelings, and mistakes will happen. Words will be said and things will be done that we wish could be taken back and undone. Most of all, this parent-child relationship will be tested time and time again.

Sigh (again)!

I was reminded this week of a show my kids used to watch when they were much younger called Bob the Builder.

Image courtesy of flickr

If you’ve never seen it, it’s an animated show that features a fix-it guy named Bob and his whole crew of construction vehicles. One of the things that Bob always says is, “Can we fix it? Yes, we can!” I thought of Bob and this slogan because lately, I feel like there’s a lot of fixing going on in our house. Our parent-child bond keeps on being tested—and broken. But for every time it does, we can be like Bob and ask, “Can we fix it?” Yes, we can!

Repairing a relationship is not an easy task by any stretch of the imagination. We can’t use tools, such as screwdrivers, hammers or nails, to put things back together. Hearts cannot be mended with tape or glue. But you know what we do have that is stronger and more effective than any fix-it gadget? Love.

I can hear you groan (or maybe that’s me!). Yup, unfortunately, there’s no easy fix for a broken relationship. But I do want to encourage all the parents out there who are in the early stages of parenting: You can make it easier for yourself now.

The one thing I’m thankful for is that hubby and I have fairly close relationships with our munchkins. Over the years, we’ve worked to build up mutual trust and respect and, thanks to hubby, a sense of fun. For the most part, we enjoy one another’s company and are sensitive to one another’s needs. Because of this closeness, whenever there’s a disconnect between us, we can feel it. It makes us so uncomfortable that we can’t go too long without wanting to reconnect with the other person. Because of the bond we’ve built (and continue to build upon), it’s easier and more natural for us to repair the bond when it breaks. And this, my friends, has been our saving grace during this crazy time.

So, this is the advice I give to all parents of young kids: Be sensitive to your child and his needs. Love him the way he needs to be loved. And a decade from now, your future self—and your child—will thank you for doing so.

This is a song I’ve been listening to on repeat, Imagine Dragons’ “Walking the Wire”. Even though it’s a love song, I think the lyrics are very applicable to parenting through the hard times.

We could turn around and we could give it up
But we’ll take what comes, take what comes
Oh, the storm is raging against us now
If you’re afraid of falling, then don’t look down
But we took the step, oh, we took the leap
And we’ll take what comes, take what comes

What helped you through your teen years? Are you a parent of pre-teens/teens? I’d love to hear your advice!

When There Is No Finish Line

Hubby has been working out on a regular basis for a few months now . This decision pleased the cheap, ahem, I mean frugal side of me because it meant he’d finally be using the gym membership we’d been paying for on a monthly basis. I’d also be getting a more healthy, energetic and buff husband and who wouldn’t want that? 😉

Hubby’s efforts the first two months were jaw-dropping. He’d go to the gym before the sun woke up and go again before he came home from work. Two workouts in a day? Who does that kind of thing?! Apparently, according to hubby, a lot of people who go to the gym do. They must either really want to get their money’s worth or the happy hormones you get from exercising are a real thing. 😉 There’s likely a third reason though as to why people stick to a workout routine. Hubby explained it to me with a slogan he saw on a shirt at the gym. It read, There is no finish line. 

 

The thought is that in order to stay healthy, energetic and buff, you need to exercise, eat right, and sleep well on a consistent basis. That means every. single. day. Because once you stop, the laws of physics (specifically, the one related to gravity) take over and your body start drooping and sagging and not functioning as well as it could.

When I heard this slogan, I couldn’t help but cringe. Working out every single day? If only I had enough energy to do that. Well, the irony of it all is that when you start working out, you gain more energy which helps you continue the vicious, I mean, wonderful cycle. So once you get going, it’s easier to keep going. Exercising will still require effort, time and commitment, but as you continue to do it regularly, it will become a part of your routine. Which is a good thing because there is no finish line when it comes to staying healthy.

This slogan got me thinking about how so much of our lives requires daily maintenance. Our minds, hearts and souls need regular nourishment and “exercise” as well. I’ve been experiencing this need as I stay home with the munchkins during their summer vacation. Boy, whoever came up with that slogan must’ve understood what having kids is like because believe me, there is no finish line when it comes to parenting. This job requires you to get up, clothe, feed, and clean up after your kids every day. And that’s just the physical, “easy” part of being a parent. It’s the emotional and mental stuff—being patient, kind, forgiving and gracious—that really kicks you in the butt. Sigh. 😉 I’ve been reminding myself to work on listening well and keeping my expectations realistic. And making sure I get some me-time and good sleep so I can be on my best behavior for them.

We have one week of summer vacay under our belts now and ten more to go—whew! Fortunately, I find that the longer I’ve been a parent, the more I know how to keep going on a daily basis. Not that it gets easier, but it does get a lot more predictable and a little more manageable. And there are plenty of rewards—shared experiences, funny moments and silly stuff—to keep you going … and going … and going … 🙂

What things do you want to keep working at on a daily basis?

Raising Our Kids for Other People’s Benefit

One of the munchkins came home recently and told me their teacher joked that we (hubby and I) were having a hard time with them and offered to adopt them. My first reaction was, Ha, he doesn’t know what he’s asking for!; my second thought, After all the hard work we’ve done?! No way, buddy! 😉

This joke got me thinking though about our job as parents. We have kids for ourselves, to fulfill a desire within us that imagines how nice it would be to have our own mini-me’s. However, when we raise our kids, it’s not only for our benefit. We raise our kids for other people, too.

What do I mean? All the teaching, guiding, correcting, and nurturing we do with our kids eventually benefits the people our kids come into contact with. This includes their friends and teachers and their future employers, potential spouses, even society as a whole. Whoa. That’s a sobering thought. But isn’t this the goal of parenting? To love, influence, and bless our children so they can in turn love, influence, and bless others.

Parenting is a huge responsibility and also one of the most thankless jobs out there. Even though we don’t always directly reap the rewards of our labor, there are moments when we get a virtual pat on the back for the job we’ve done. Like when a teacher tells you what an inspiration your child is to him. And he offers to adopt said child. I think that’s a good sign you’ve done something right as a parent. 😛 And now that I’ve thought through this offer some more, I’ve changed my mind. I’m warming up to the idea … especially with summer break around the corner. 😉

Speaking of the break, I’ll be returning to a summer schedule for posting to this blog (aka. whenever my kids allow me to!). I’ll leave you now with this fun video from the musical episode of The Flash (my favorite superhero!), featuring the song “Put A Little Love In Your Heart”, which is a good reminder for me as I think about all the time I’ll be spending at home with the munchkins. 😉

In what ways are your children a blessing to others?

Life Lessons from a Wannabe Strawberry Plant

Remember my post a few weeks back (you can read it HERE) about how munchkin #2 waited 72 (I repeat, 72!) days for her strawberry plant to sprout? Here’s part 2 of this epic saga. Saga is the correct term because it means “a long story of heroic achievement”.

So thanks to a green-thumbed friend of mine who saw a photo of C’s plant on my Instagram, we learned the strawberry plant was in fact not a strawberry plant, but more likely a dandelion. When I broke the news to C, her whole body slumped as she wailed, “I’ve been growing a WEED?!”

Poor C. My disappointment was only a smidgeon of the shock and despair she was feeling. In that moment she wanted to give up. She was ready to hand over her bright green shoot of long, spiky leaves and have me take care of it. And quite honestly, I didn’t blame her.

I took a deep breath and racked my brain, trying hard to come up with something redeemable about the situation. I rubbed her back and said, “Sometimes things don’t work out the way we expect them to. You didn’t grow a strawberry plant, but you did grow something! You did a great job watering and taking care of it every day for so long. Now you know what it takes to grow a plant.”

Her answer? “I’m growing a weed!”

Yup. Such is life, my dear. 😛

I wish things were different. I wish one strawberry seed had made it so C could have something to show for her hard work and patience (because to an 8 year old, 72 days is like an eternity!). But in the midst of all our disappointment, I appreciated the life lesson this wannabe strawberry plant reminded me of: Things doesn’t always turn out the way we expect, but that doesn’t mean these experiences were for naught. The disappointments we face, the unexpected detours and U-turns we make, the epic failures we go through—they are what make us strong and resilient and persistent. Nope, they’re not fun or pleasant, but they build something precious and desirable: they build character. And the hard times are what make success and victory sweet.

This experience taught C so much, and I can see how her perspective has changed. Just this past weekend we decided to start a small garden in the backyard. C jumped at the idea and we all went to the store to buy seeds to plant. While C was browsing, she turned to the back of the seed packets to look for the number of days it would take before the vegetable could be harvested. Several times she remarked, “52 days? 66 days? That’s so fast!” I had to keep myself from laughing at her reaction. This was the same girl who had moaned and groaned for 72 days while she waited for her strawberry/dandelion plant to grow. But now? She’s become a pro at waiting. 🙂

So, I want to say thank you to the random dandelion seed who flew into our house and found the perfect place to land. You may be a weed, but you’re a wonderful weed. Thanks for the life lessons you taught my munchkin. But whatever you do, please don’t spread your seeds into our backyard. 😉

Here’s a picture of C’s weed. Next to it is some lettuce she’s growing, too (which is super easy to do; go here for instructions)!

Here’s an oldie but goodie, Wilson Phillips’ song “Hold On”, that talks about holding on through the hard times.

How have disappointments and failures shaped you?

Why Mother’s Day Isn’t for Moms

I’ve been blessed to be a mama for a decade now and the one thing I’ve learned as a mom is that you need to go in to Mother’s Day with the right expectations. 😉 Why? Because I used to think that this one day of the year would be an actual day where I could get away with sleeping in, having breakfast in bed, and generally speaking, not having to lift a single finger the whole day. How did I ever get this crazy idea in my head? Because I was led to believe that Mother’s Day is a day designated to celebrating moms. And when you’re expecting to be treated like the VIP that you are (wink, wink), you look forward to this day the same way that you look forward to going on a tropical vacation: You say “bring it on!”.

Well, soon after I experienced my first Mother’s Day, reality set in. Nope, I did not get to sleep in (because babies don’t understand the concept of sleeping in), I still had to change diapers and wipe little behinds, I still had to feed people, I still had to do whatever request a munchkin asked me to do because as moms all know, you’re the only one special enough to do such a request. 🙂 Dishes still piled up in the sink, the laundry baskets were still full and the bathroom was still the one place I couldn’t go alone.

I got to the point where I decided the best way I could enjoy Mother’s Day was to prepare myself for it. By prepare I meant doing the laundry (washing, drying and ironing) a day early. Vacuuming and mopping the floors earlier in the week. Making sure the fridge was stocked and would last us through the weekend. Doing any other things that needed to be done before Mother’s Day, so I could do what I was supposed to do on Mother’s Day: enjoy Mother’s Day. Pretty silly, huh? 😉

I came to the realization that my expectations were all wrong. I had set the bar so high for this one particular day. I didn’t want to do any housework. I didn’t want my kids to ask me to do anything for them. I wanted to be wined and dined (even take-out would be fine!) I just wanted the whole day to be perfect (is that too much to ask?!) LOL. I was essentially asking to not be a mother on Mother’s Day.

I’ve finally come full circle on this whole Mother’s Day issue. I now accept that Mother’s Day is not for me. 😉 It’s for my kids. It’s a day for them to look forward to as they wake up excited in the morning to bring me breakfast in bed. It’s a day where they have the chance to present me with a gift they made with their own little hands or bought with their own money. It’s a day for them to give me hugs and words of appreciation because they honestly think I’m one of the most important people in the world. It’s a day to marvel at their unconditional love for me just for being their mom.

It doesn’t get better than this! 🙂

So I’m good with Mother’s Day. I may even be looking forward to it this year. 😉 I hope you are, too. And if you’re still hoping for that one day a year where you don’t have to lift a finger and everything is perfect? There’s always your birthday. 😉

Here’s wishing you and your family a very happy Mother’s Day! Thank God for moms!

The Silver Lining to Sibling Squabbles

Last week was spring break, which meant a LOT of munchkin and mama time and not much mama-alone time. :O It also meant more opportunities for sibling squabbles because what do siblings like to do the most? Drive each other CRAZY. It’s like an unwritten rule in the sibling by-laws, maybe even rule #1. But because my younger sister and I are a decade apart in age, we never had our share of fights and I never understood what all this rivalry nonsense was about. If you don’t know either, it’s basically like an intense love/hate relationship with your closest ally/enemy.

Case in point: One day we were all in the car and hubby and I heard lots of yelling coming from the backseat. When we turned around, the kids had their arms around one another’s shoulders in a tight side hug and huge grins on their faces! When we faced forward, they started squabbling again, but as soon as we looked back, they were all hugs and smiles! It was HI-LA-RI-OUS.

Despite all the craziness that comes with sibling squabbles, I’ve discovered its silver lining: The munchkins have lots of chances to practice getting along. And I have lots of chances to help them. (Insert scared face here!) I’ll admit though that I am the most ill-equipped person when it comes to repairing relationships. In my marriage, there’s one person who’s known to shut down at the first sign of conflict (*ducking my head*). 😛 So, I’ve been learning along with the kids on how to get along.

Recently, however, I had a major breakthrough. So major that I wanted to give myself a pat on the back and I couldn’t wait to tell hubby about it. After yet another sibling squabble, one of the munchkins had slammed their bedroom door, forcing the other one out. I didn’t know exactly what had happened, but I knew one of them had pushed the other one’s buttons. I also knew the button pushee would eventually get over it and make up with the button pusher because that’s how the dynamics of their relationship works. I was pretty fed up though with the whole situation and knew I had to address the issue—but how? I needed to give some better advice than, “Go make up NOW. And don’t do it again!” Then it came to me, “it” being my brilliant nugget of wisdom that I was about to impart. I said to the button pusher, “I know she’ll forgive you, but it doesn’t mean you should take advantage of her kindness.” And I followed it up with, “Be careful when you go to the bathroom; the floor’s wet.”

Boom! (That was the sound of me dropping my mic and exiting the room. Just kidding!)

What I liked about my response was that one, I kept my cool and delivered it in a calm but firm voice. Two, I attempted to address the heart (namely, the issues of gratitude, grace and forgiveness) and not just focus on the behavior. And three, I showed that I wasn’t necessarily taking sides and that I still cared about the button pusher because I didn’t want him to slip on the freshly mopped floor. It was the kind of “tough love” talk I’d always heard parents should give, but it was the first time the words had come out in a natural and sincere way.

It was seriously one of my proudest parenting moments (which aren’t many)! To be honest, I don’t know how much my words made an impact that day, or if they did at all. But the experience showed me that I have a little more insight now into repairing relationships. And it gives me hope that I (and the munchkins) will continue to learn more about how to get along with each other. Because there will be plenty more munchkin and mama times coming … especially during summer vacation, which is like ten times longer than spring break. (Insert scared face here again!)

P.S. This experience also reminded me of our relationship with God and the truth behind Romans 6:1-2: “Are we to continue in sin so that grace may increase? May it never be!” This could be a whole other blog post, one I’ll have to save for another day. 😉

I don’t really have a song that goes with this post, but I’ll leave you with Lindsey Sterling and The Piano Guys’ cover of the Mission Impossible theme song because parenting is all about getting the impossible done!

What have you learned about sibling squabbles?