The other day something awful happened: Our babysitter quit. She will be working full time for another mother. (Imagine me throwing a time-out worthy tantrum that makes me want to send myself to my room.) I am upset. Disappointed. Sad. Doesn’t that other mom know the Ten Commandments of Motherhood? Thou shall not covet another mother’s babysitter. Our babysitter is wonderful with my daughter. My daughter adores her. Every Thursday morning when I ask Emma “Who is coming today?”, she squeals full of excitement her name and runs to the window hoping she would already be there.
I feel a similar sense of excitement towards the end of every Wednesday knowing that the next day, I would finally get a break, have a bit of me time to recharge my empty batteries, refresh my soul or simply run errands, clean the house, do laundry and schedule doctor appointments. I recently picked up a few freelance projects so I also need this day to work.
That morning, when I was told that I would lose that precious ‘day to myself’, I couldn’t help but wonder if the other mother cared about our family’s needs for a babysitter or if she was solely driven by the urgency her family experienced in finding someone to watch her son while she was at work. Affordability was another big deal for us. As we are preparing to adopt, we can’t afford to spend much money on the luxury of ‘giving Mama a day off‘. Our sweet babysitter didn’t charge much. Why was this blessing taken from us?
But this story isn’t about condemnation, judgement or injustice. It’s about being an example.
Here’s a confession: My Achilles’ heel is that I am an emotional person. I am easily affected or stirred by emotions. Emotional eating, emotional outbursts, talking back, acting before thinking or praying (I can see my therapist nod as she’s reading this.). My girl Joyce [Meyer] puts it so well in her book “Managing Your Emotions”: Wisdom calmly looks ahead to determine how a decision will affect the future, emotions are only concerned with what is going on at this very moment. Ha!
Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.
James 5:16 encourages us to confess our faults to one another so that our hearts and minds may be healed and restored.
As you can tell, I’m working on it. I am aware of Satan’s trap trying to defeat my trust in God. Just like he did that morning. I reacted based on my emotions. I know when anger arises, I need to turn to my exit strategy: Pray and call my husband or a trusted friend to vent. By all means, hold your tongue.
That morning, I needed an intervention…
As I’m constantly trying to figure out how to teach my daughter to love, respect and be grateful, I’m learning so much about myself. When I see Emma’s temper tantrums and her taking a swing at our dog or worse, her own Mama, I don’t allow myself or her the excuse of “Oh, well, she is in the Terrible Twos. This is normal.” or “She must be tired.” I see emotional outbursts. I see a lack of control of her tongue. I see the need for discipline and, more importantly, I see the urgency of teaching my little girl about love, selflessness and forgiveness. Especially, when I take a look at myself and my own struggles with emotions. I would be ignorant not to be alert and start training her heart now.
I had just started reading “Don’t Make Me Count To Three”. A book about the practical application of scripture to disciplining children. According to the author, we must reach past the behavior of our children and get a better understanding of their hearts. As the heart is the foundation of all behavior. She gives a very relevant example in her book as she describes how her younger daughter is trying to take a toy away from her older brother who was happily playing with it.
We normally would ask “Who had it first?” to establish justice. But it all changes if we take a look at where their hearts should be in such a situation. Both children are simply being selfish and their actions are basically saying “I don’t care about your happiness. I want this toy right now and don’t care what that means to you”. Can you see where I am going with this?
That morning, after our babysitter quit, I found myself sitting on the cold floor in our garage crying to my husband who was trying to leave for work. Enter Holy Spirit. His appearance was ignited by a text my friend sent me after I vented to her. She reminded me that it is no one’s fault. It’s just life. But God will provide. Just like He once provided before.
I felt a shift in my heart.
How can I expect my 2-year old daughter to foster an attitude of love and kindness if I couldn’t be an example for her? If above all, my desire for my daughter is to behave in a way that glorifies God (and how often do we sit in our church’s moms group claiming that to be our goal?), I have no choice but display a Christ-like thinking and acting for myself. How could I teach her to not fight over a toy and learn to let it go while I was selfishly holding on to something I treasured instead of granting it to someone who obviously needed it more?
Suddenly, I felt peace. How come all these parenting books I’m reading to be a better mother are actually teaching me to be a better woman? I am not pridefully padding my back. And my story isn’t about conquering a severe or life-threatening issue either. But I am challenging you – and myself – to truly examine our own behavior as we raise our children. No matter how many books and blogs on parenting we are reading, we won’t be able to harvest righteousness in our children if we don’t display it ourselves.