Today was one of those days where I’m pretty sure I gained a new level on the “Parenting Rating Scale”. You know, that prestigious ladder that every parent climbs up inch by inch, diaper by diaper, and hoping that one day they can reach the premier level of Ph.D. (Parenting Humans Doctorate). I’m only at Pre-K level right now so I’ve got a long way to go.
Miss Princess woke up super early screaming from her room. Willis got up to tend to her and as I listened over the monitor I could tell it wasn’t going well. Time ticked by and still she was crying. Daddy brought her back into bed with us and she snuggled in close to us. I honestly expected this to be wake up time for us all as she usually doesn’t go to sleep well in our bed. I was pleasantly surprised though when she curled up between us and drifted in and out of sleep for a bit.
The day started pretty much as usual with breakfast and straightening up the house but as I was cleaning up the bedroom and putting away laundry I could tell kids were not going to get along and cooperate well today. Sigh. Little Man was whining over EVERYTHING, Little Princess apparently wasn’t playing how Little Man wanted, and she was also pushing the limits on disobedience. All the couch cushions were on the floor along with stuffed animals, pillows, Duplo Legos, and an array of colorful construction paper. Baby Monkey was sitting quietly in her seat during most of the commotion of the morning but after a while decided to join in on the crying.
For some absurd reason, I decided to add to the chaos by putting ‘big girl pants’ on Miss Princess and let her do some potty training. What was I thinking? I walked into the living room to find a puddle on the ground between all the cushions and pillows. I mustered up a sense of calm despite the frustration that was threatening to burst forth.
“We’re going to clean up this mess. Little Man, please put the cushions back on the couch and Miss Princess pick up the Legos, please.”
I said it calm and collectively, with a gently force and firmness added. Apparently, my kids didn’t get the memo and instead one didn’t listen at all while the other, while somewhat obeying, ran to their room to clean up the toys in there. I called for them to come back to the living room and help clean it up. Let’s just say it didn’t go over quite well. It ended with a call to Willis going something like the following:
“Hey Sweetheart. STOP. I feel like locking the kids up in their room all day. STOP. Please pray for me. STOP.”
We got through the next few minutes of crying and temper tantrums and I sat the kids down at the table with some beads and pipe cleaners for some (hopefully) quiet craft time. I really wanted to do some sewing and I hoped the craft would buy me enough time to do even a little. Miracle of miracles happened and the children were actually calm and enjoying their craft. They weren’t complaining or fussing too much and all of us enjoyed the rest of the morning.
What happened during the cleanup of the living room was definitely not what I was thinking of as a teenager when dreaming of having kids one day. It wasn’t pretty. It was hard. It’s not what I envisioned. But it was life as a mom and it’s totally worth it.
I wanted to show my frustration and get caught up in how hard today was most likely going to be. My flesh wanted to complain about how today was going to be long and unproductive. But God has been working on my heart recently about many things regarding being a parent. One of those things is being calm and intentional with my words and actions.
God did not give me these children to just enjoy when they are being good, play with sometimes, and feed constantly. He gave them to me to train, to raise as godly individuals, and to teach to be useful human beings. If in my rightful frustration I raise my voice or lose my temper, then bridges of trust and respect are broken. If in my hasty attempts to ‘keep house’ I fail to take the time to teach them what is acceptable behavior, then I am doing them (and God) a deep disservice.
Being intentional as a parent means taking the time and effort to be calm, collective, and use that opportunity to teach a lesson and help grow that little one into who God desires.
Intentionality means not rushing through the day.
Intentionality is stopping to teach.
Intentionality shows calmness in the face of frustration.
In the end, today was a good day. I got a lot of Little Man’s quilt sewed, snuggled my Baby, colored on the iPad with Little Man, spoke calmly to Little Princess, and even in the midst of it ended up with a clean house. Most importantly, though, it was a good day because I chose to be calm and intentional with my words and actions. May God guide me as I do the same tomorrow, and the tomorrow after that.