I have read several parenting books since I became a mother. From The Girlfriends Guide to Pregnancy to The Good Son:Shaping the Moral Development of Our Boys and Young Men. I have tried Parenting with Love & Logic techniques and Creative Correction. I was nervous with the weight of each child’s future on my head and in my hands. I want my boys to grow into good men and live a life knowing that when challenges come, they are equipped to handle them with God’s help.
Isaiah used to have temper tantrums that were horrifyingly embarrassing until I gave birth to my third child whose temper tantrums barely register with me. Isaac has taken the longest to potty train and given me more realistic expectations of my littlest one, Levi. Even now, Levi has started to bite me and I am not completely sure if my reaction will cause him to change his behavior. There are moments I just want to pretend I am not with them.
I can’t wait to return the favor.
In the early days, I just wanted to be a good mother. Capable, strong and able to silence a child with one raised finger and a hand on my hip. Picture Mary Poppins. Unfortunately, good mother or not, that never happened. I could never quite find my children in a certain category of any book. Without question, there were tidbits that I gathered from parts of the books that were useful. However, I also found sections that seemed unreasonable, overwhelmingly overbearing and sometimes just plain ridiculous.
I now approach parenting with a different perspective. In the best interest of my children, who I know better than anyone on the planet, I must trust my own intuition.
I know now that when I feel like yelling, I should whisper. I have learned that when dinner is not ready on time and the kids are losing their minds, a dinner of grapes, pretzels, cheese and sandwich meat on the floor in front of the fridge is gourmet cuisine. When my sons are too stubborn to hear my words it’s time to stop talking for a while. The lesson does sink in eventually but skulls are harder when they feel under attack.
Motherhood is not an occupation conducive to seeing the big picture. It is not about building confidence, integrity, empathy and charity in one fail swoop. It is comprised of minutes where we choose what we say, how we react and where we go. It’s tying shoe strings with a smile, not freaking out over spilled milk and counting to ten before speaking too harshly.
I believe in proactively parenting with character traits in mind. I also know that those traits are built one lesson at a time. I explain to my children that I am still learning to be patient, honest, kind and loving. Self control is a big challenge in my life. At the end of trying to discipline one of my boys stuck in pride and stubbornness, I remind them that they are not alone. I am still trying to become the person God wants me to be and so is their father.
I also remind my children that if you are not learning, you are dying. To which they cry, “We are not dead!” and I say, “Thank God!”