Brynlie was hungry and tired yesterday afternoon. But instead accepting comfort and eating to feel better, she just kicked and screamed at Trav and me. She's 4, ya know? But even though she's 4, Trav and I don't deserve to be treated that way especially when we are there just to help. Somehow, someday she has to learn that it's okay to be hungry and tired but it's not okay to yell at us and be mean to us because she's hungry. So we, basically, gave in knowing that we'd do something about it tomorrow when we'd have time and energy to not lose it. So today when she was calm, happy and content, having practiced saying this once before telling Brynlie, I said in a happy and relaxed voice, "hey, bryn, you know how you were kicking and screaming yesterday? It drained my energy but I thought of something you can do to put energy back in me! Want to here was it is?" And she excitedly said, "yes!" I said excitedly (to make it sound fun and because she was handling well so far!), "okay, it's a fridge project. Take everything out of the fridge to be organized." Then she ran off saying, "okay!" I didn't follow right behind trying to give her some room to not feel too controlled and also to help the other two tiny kiddos asking for my attention. She proceeded to organize and clean each shelf and now our fridge looks awesome! Double check off my list of things to do! Then she was exhausted after working for a hour and me saying "you are doing a good job putting energy back in me" "you're a hard worker" and "it looks like you like putting energy in me." We sat and she rested and we talked for a little bit. I said, "you know how yesterday you were hungry and tired? It probably would have been a good idea to eat and rest, huh? Instead you kicked and screamed like this...." Then we laughed and my imitation. "Why did you kick and scream?" She just shrugged and so I said, "it's okay to feel hungry and it's okay to feel tired. Mommy was trying to help you get some food and rest but when I said, 'bryn, can I help you?' You went like this..." And I imitated her kicking and screaming. This time she embarrassingly smiled and for a split second I saw a pure, innocent remorse on her face. She realized she had been rude. Thinking I'd have to help her understand that feeling and then what to do about it (tell me sorry), she looked away and kindly said, "I'm sorry for doing that yesterday." And my heart melted!! I said "thank you for saying sorry! That's was exactly what you needed to do! You such a good girl, even when you're kicking and screaming, but saying sorry was acting like a good girl! Thank you sooo much!" Tender mercy. Trying to remember to not talk to her about it in the moment but later when she's calm and can understand it without being defensive.
I don’t understand myself sometimes. I have extremely high expectations of myself and extremely high hopes for my childern. But I also don’t lay down the law when I’m tired or worn out or even when I’m rested. I wait for their “cues” which sometimes is helpful, extremely helpful, and other times I think, “Ooops… there was no cue. I was suppose to jump in and lovingly lay down the law. They would just continue on and on, it’s up to me.” As I write this, it sounds like that is the perfect balance. But it doesn’t really feel that way right now. Right now, I feel mad at myself for not LOVINGLY laying down the law in areas that I CAN control and letting things slide where I can’t control. I let things slide sometimes out of fear that my “lovingly laying down the law” will bring a tantrum. If it’s just MY idea or MY law then I easily, and sometimes not as easily, let the idea or law float away in order to stir clear of a tantrum.
I feel like I don’t take very good care of myself. I just bare and grin it most of the time and, actually, I’m really good at it. In fact, I think one of my gifts and talents is being easy going (another way to say being flexible, watching for cues, not laying down the law.) As far as taking care of myself, sometimes being easy going isn’t always appropriate. And after listening to a quick tip from Love and Logic, taking care of myself so that I can be an emotionally HEALTHY role model for my kids is really the ONLY thing I am responsible for and the ONLY thing I can really do. This makes sense. I can only control myself (sometimes THAT’S even arguable) and so I’ll I really can do is be a good example. Saying things like, “right now, I am tired. I feel like I need to take a nap. What are you going to do while I take a nap? It’s not my job to play with you. My job is to be happy and to feel good so you can learn how to be happy and feel good. In order to feel good, I need to take a nap.” “Right now, I need to work out. My body is important to me, it needs me to exercise. What are you going to do while I exercise? I really like to listen to music while I run and I really like watch the road, not kids, while I run. So I will run a lap, and then we can run a lap together. You decide what you want to do while I run my lap. Do you want some ideas? Stretch out, play with toys, play on the swing set, etc.”
There is so much pressure on me from myself to sit and play with my kids all day long. I totally and completely love my kids and even WANT to be around them. But when I guilt myself into playing with them a few too many times each day, I start to completely not want to play with them. Deep deep down (a place where I only let the guilt of truth come through and haunt me) I know that I’m not responsible and it’s not even needed that I sit down and play pretend with my kids. But every single day I do and I hate it and I pretend like I don’t. This is teaching my kids how to fake listening and how to fake actions. Happy day. This is teaching my kids the steps without teaching them the music. Music is found by finding the VALUE in the action. The value is more easily found when I feel like I’ve taken care of my physical, emotional and spiritual self. That’s why sometimes I resent playing with them - it’s because I haven’t first taken care of myself and deep down I know that, as crazy as it might sound in all this parenting pop culture, taking care of myself is actually more important and essential to taking good care of them! Slightly unbelievable how kind Heavenly Father is. He loves me and wants me to be healthy and happy just as much as He wants my kids to be. Sometimes it’s hard to believe life could be that grand.
I need to start using my gift and talent of being flexible by watching out for my own mental cues. And then honoring them and explaining out loud (to teach and be an example) why I MUST take care of myself. I can’t wait for time to pass to take care of myself because a healthy happier me is needed (very much so) NOW. I can't assume that others around me are going to take care of all my needs. I need to first do my best and then their loving actions and help won’t fall on a resentful heart but rather on a grateful and unexpecting heart. Elder Holland says that the Lord loves to bless those that don’t expect it. (laborers of the vineyard).
Phew! I’m off to try and kindly, patiently, and lovingly apply this. And to pray and ask for Christ to take away my short comings, guilt, and to bare my burdens once more!