"Come on upstairs, I'll show you what I do." I led my neighbor up to the girls' bedroom to show her how I organize my kiddos "treasures" from school. You know, the report cards, class photos, awards, trophies, writer's notebooks, special drawings, etc, etc. As we were looking, The Boy noticed a Paw Patrol necklace far back in the closet that he wanted to see. As I reached back to get it for him, I noticed Lil's brand new pink Under Armor shirt, wadded up in a ball, covered in crusty orange slime.
Anywho, I pulled it out and my neighbor and I discussed what must have happened. Clearly, she wasn't happy with the slime covered shirt and didn't want me to see that she had potentially ruined it.
Later that day, when they got off the bus, I asked about the shirt. "Oh yeah, about that... well you see, you were already kind of mad at me that I had snagged the shirt, so I knew you'd be really mad if you saw it ruined with slimed."
"Good point sister. But still, you should have told me right away so that I could have helped you. We could have probably gotten it clean if you had told me in time."
Fast forward to dinner. "Guys, we need to talk about something. Someone, who shall remain anonymous.... "
"Oh come on, you guys know it was me," she chimed in, "hid a shirt in the back of the closet covered with slime. Had I know in time, I could have washed it and probably saved the shirt."
And she proceeded to tell everyone that the shirt had been snagged and that I was already mad about that, so she didn't want to face the music of mentioning that it was now "ruined."
I want you guys to feel like it is safe to tell me and dad ANYTHING! We can help you solve a lot of your problems if you just tell us. I know, sometimes I overreact about messes and clothes and such. I really need to work on that!
And Sunshine (the middle sister) chimes in, "Oh Yeah Mom. We all know when you get angry! You start saying yelling and saying, "What the H-E-L-L!?!?!"
There is nothing quite like getting called out by your always honest 7 year old. But she's right. I can get so bent out of shape over "stuff." My OCD, lets keep everything clean and neat and tidy and when you don't, you know you are going to hear about it mentality, doesn't always makes it a warm place to fess up.
Which got me to thinking, I am a safe spot? Do I value our stuff over their hearts? If I want them to tell me BIG things that happen in their life, shouldn't I be more loving/accepting in the little mistakes? Do I want girls who hide their stuff and their feelings from me, or do I want girls who know, Mom may not be happy about the situation, but she'll stay calm and help me problem-solve through it???
Do you know someone who blows the roof off the house when things go wrong? Is that the person you'd turn to if you made a big mistake?
I'm learning that if I want to have a life full of JOY, I have to bring things into the light. I have to tell safe, trustworthy people my mistakes. Any and everything that I have ever tried to keep a secret has eaten my alive. Caused me to loose sleep. To feel shame. Embarrassment. My secrets and shortcomings used to trap me and Satan used them to torment me. As I have learned to share big and little things to people that I can trust, my Joy has increased. It's like taking boulders off of my shoulders, one at a time.
If I want my girls (and boy) to have JOY, I have to be a safe spot for them to bring things into the light, to take their own boulders off their shoulders. Things hidden in the closets (literally and figuratively) will steal our JOY!
As moms (and dads too!) we need to be safe spots. Not that we should sugar-coat things. Not that kids don't need discipline. They absolutely do! But we need to be problem-solvers and not over-reactors.
After dinner we we decided to spray the shirt, wash it, and just see what would happen. Guess what?
It washed up perfectly clean.
All the crusty-rusty orange slime disappeared like magic. She was as surprised as me.
I am praying that I can become a mom who responds instead of reacts. Who values people over possessions. Who listens when it's not convenient to listen. Who thinks, How can we fix this together? Instead of How can I punish you or shame you for this mistake?
Good Luck dear friends on Finding "Joy in the Chaos."