I think parenting is hard. Maybe it's just me. It isn't about me and is about me at the very same time.
It isn't about me...
When I was a senior in high school, I decided not to run track and field. I came home to hear my dad say, "How could you do this to me?" I remember that moment. Later on my high school graduation when my dad, scolded me loudly in front of all my friends after I'd tried to find him and his girlfriend (my parents were getting divorced) saying "How could you do this to me?" I remember knowing at a very young age that what my dad wanted from me was a child he could brag about to his friends. My achievements weren't mine. They were his. My failures... well, there weren't to be failures.
I remember also knowing, even though I was the child in this relationship, that the decisions I was making weren't about him. They were about me. I was a teenager and I was growing up. I wasn't trying to be malicious and defy my father.
I remember the first time Autumn did something that really upset me. I found myself saying "Why did she do that to me?" ... all the old, bad memories from my childhood flooded back in. I, like many other parents, don't want to repeat my parents mistakes. It was so tempting to get caught in the trap of thinking that what my daughter was doing was about me.
But, it wasn't. It still isn't. Not when they're 2, 6, 12, or 18.
Can kids be malicious? Yes, I've seen it in the classroom when I taught middle school. After teaching at one school, I found myself so scarred that I never wanted to go back. But, I believe that most decisions your children make aren't about you--they are their attempts to control their world--to get what they want, for better or for worse.
That trap of thinking it's about me makes it difficult to stay calm and discipline without emotion. That trap can cause wounds in my heart that are hard to forgive. That trap can damage my relationship with my child.
So, how is it about me then? It's about me because I read in Susie Larson's book Growing Grateful Kids a great piece of advice that I often come back to. I can't give my kids something I don't have myself.
I can't give them a loving heart if I don't have one.
I can't give them thankfulness if I don't have it.
I can't give them kindness if I don't have it.
Parenting is also very much about me. Why does it even help to think about this? I guess because it helps me get some perspective. I have to work at staying calm. The last few weeks have been really trying in our house. My middle daughter's picky eating has been so stressful to our family of late. I had a horrible battle with poison ivy for the past two weeks. My son fell and now has headaches. I'm worried. Two of my children got glasses in the past three weeks. And other family stress has been added to the mix from outside sources. It's been a stressful few weeks for me and I feel pretty crummy this morning. I'm working on my perspective.
Not taking my daughter's eating personally.
Trusting God with the headaches and praying for wisdom.
Getting the glasses and seeing if they help Eli's headaches.
Visited the dermatologist and took care of my poison ivy
I'm taking one step at a time.