If there’s anything I’ve learned over the past 7+ years, it’s that parenthood is one looong, continuous lesson on love.
Just as it takes a whole lot of work to maintain a good marriage, it takes a LOT of work to be a loving, patient, kind, understanding—insert all the warm and fuzzy adjectives you can think of—parent.
I love my kids, don’t get me wrong. I can’t imagine my life without them. I love how I am probably the most important person to them in their lives right now (sorry hubby!)—and yet I also cringe at that thought. I cringe because every word I say, and especially the manner in which I say it, has great power. My words can either inject light and approval into their little hearts or instill gloom and doom. And once my words are out there, I can’t take them back. Sure, I can (and often do) apologize when I “lose it”, but the damage has already been done (sigh).
To be truly loving towards our children all the time may not be possible (we are only human), but it is something we can strive for – and believe me, there are plenty of chances to practice. Just the other day I had the unfortunate opportunity to show love to our dear son. I say unfortunate because it’s always easier to love our kids when they say and do what we want, however this time was not one of them.
For some reason which I can’t remember right now, he had a major meltdown 30 minutes before bedtime. The fact that he was very tired probably explains why he was sitting on the couch crying with his head thrown back, eyes clamped shut and mouth wide open. When he cries like this, it’s like a dam has opened and all of Niagara Falls is gushing out of him. It’s hard to calm him down or reason with him about anything at this point.
In my head I was thinking, Aiya, what now?!?!?! and starting to feel like a pressure cooker about to burst open. I looked at hubby who was already exhausted from a crazy week at work and saw that he was getting frustrated, too (which is rare because he is very patient with the kids). Before I knew it, my own dam cracked and I was spewing out some harsh words at our son, until hubby shook his head and said, “It’s okay.”
What?! It’s not okay!! I wanted to yell. Instead I shut my mouth and stomped into the kitchen. After a while, our son ran out of steam and tears and stopped crying. We then convinced him he was tired and needed to sleep, and off we went to bed.
The following day hubby and I had a chance to debrief, meaning I had a chance to vent. I asked him how in the world he had stayed so calm and he admitted he almost lost his patience, but reminded himself not to go there.
“He didn’t deserve it,” hubby said about our son. “He just wanted some attention. He needed compassion.”
|Image courtesy of luigi diamanti/freedigitalphotos.net|
If you can imagine, I totally moaned in frustration and disbelief at hubby’s comment. That was such a classic “give me a pencil so I can poke my eye out with it” kind of moment.
Of all the things I wanted to give to our son during his meltdown, compassion was NOT one of them. What I thought he deserved at the time was a good scream-fest about how unreasonable he was being – because he was. I thought I had the right to feel frustrated and impatient over his behavior – and maybe I did. But I missed an important point. Even if I was upset over how he was acting, I didn’t need to give in to the moment. The very thing I wanted him to do – control his emotions – was something I needed to do myself. But why? Simply because my love for my son should be bigger than his temporary meltdowns.
If I could have taken a step back from the situation, I would have realized that pouring fuel on a fire never puts the fire out. It’s only when you douse the flames with water, does it die down. Yes, our son neither deserved nor benefitted from me pouring my wrath upon him. What he needed was my patience and understanding.
Oh, how I hate it when hubby is right! 😛 But I am oh so thankful that I learned something more that day about love. This verse from Micah 6:8 came to mind:
Sigh, sigh and sigh. So much for being a perfect parent! (I’m kidding, I know I’m not!)
I am really challenged by this verse. I almost feel like I have to go back to the “drawing board” and reevaluate the way I parent. At least I have a better idea of what I need to work on now and that’s justice, kindness and humility.
I just love this song by Chris Tomlin, “Kindness”, which speaks of our ultimate example of kindness. 🙂
What ideas and thoughts do you have about “doing justice” towards your children?