Tuesday, June 23, 2015

The Difference a Day Can Make

On Sunday, we had dinner with my dad to celebrate Father's Day.  We met about an hour away from our house.  We had a nice dinner and a good visit.  After that, my dad headed home, and we went to Wal-Mart to get a couple of things.  Some forty-five minutes later, we finished getting all the odds and ends we needed, or thought we needed.  The drive home was LONG!  One of the longest hours in my history.  The kids were loud.  Super loud!  It was exceedingly difficult to have a conversation.  We asked them to quiet down on a number of difference occasions.  Every time we asked them to be quieter, them seemed to double their volume over the next five minutes or so.  They weren't even talking most of the time, just making random weird noises at top volume.  Needless to say, we got pretty frustrated.  At one point, I was contemplating rolling down the window and climbing out of the car as it went down the highway. 

 After taking away some privileges the next day and after Todd stopped the car with the threat of spanking them, I totally lost my cool.  I exploded with anger and frustration.  I WAS NOT a cool mom at that point in time.  Todd said I even scared him when I started yelling.  Now, isn't that a proud moment for me?    It was not my finest hour.  I wish I would have had some amazing calm and super-effective technique to deal with that situation, but I didn't.  It was the kind of outburst that left me wanting to escape.  Escape not only the people who caused me to boil over but also wanting to escape myself.  

I spent some time yesterday morning praying that I could have some different responses to my children  that day, even in the face of them being loud, rebellious, or disobedient.  Change me,  O LORD, because I don't want to be THAT yelling mom.

A short time later, I was getting ready for a tutoring session.  I was wondering how to keep my children busy for an hour while I worked with a student.  Especially since they lost all screen time for the day.  I came up with the idea of writing down some appropriate chocices to fill their time.   I titled my list, "Things I Can Do While Mom is Tutoring."  I presented it to them as a "menu."  Just like when we go to a restaurant and they can choose what they want, they can choose anything they want from the menu.    I also explained any caveats that went with the choices.  For example, number 12 (go on a creek adventure) has to be done together and they have to tell me that is what they are doing first.  Oh, and painting and Play Dough have to be done outside instead of on the carpet somewhere.  Other than that, they could pick their activity and change it whenever they wanted.  I also made sure I pointed out that fighting, bickering, arguing, and pestering were not things on the menu.

They loved this idea.  Particularly Hannah, who took great joy in adding several of her own choices.  I am not sure that "practicing her phone number" is an activity that would fill a whole hour.  I am also not that excited about "rolling around in the mud," but I love her enthusiasm all the same!

They did a great job of keeping themselves busy for that hour.  I was really impressed with how well it went.  Praise God for this burst of inspiration!  It worked really well.  I may have to continue to expand on this list throughout the summer because they did about half of the things just yesterday!  But I am celebrating yesterday's success.

After lunch, I took the kids swimming.  They have been begging me for weeks to go, and it was finally a good time to do it.  I could have thought of other things that I wanted to do like take a nap or crochet all afternoon, but this was for them.  I was determined to play with them and not sit on the sidelines.  I wanted to make some memories with them, not just be a bystander.  Would it have been easier to sit on the side with just my feet in, or soak up some sun on a lounge chair while they played?  Yes, of course.  But this was for them. So I did it all.  I played in the water.  I went down the slides.  I encouraged them.  I helped them.  I even did that rope monkey bar thing with the lily pads underneath.  They loved me doing all these things with them.  And I am so glad I did.  We all three had a great time playing in the water yesterday!

I was a cool mom today.  I am proud of that.  I think I got it right today.  Thank you, LORD, for giving me second chances.  Thank you for your forgiveness when I blow it.  Thank you for the inspiration to come up with some fresh ideas and present them in a fun way.  Thank you for giving me the chance to have some fun.

Thank you, LORD, for your mercies which are made new every morning.

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