"I read your blog last night and then we all woke up and had the craziest morning." I'm pretty sure by crazy, she meant a lot of yelling went down at her house this morning. For the sake of not calling anyone out, I'll keep "her" anonymous. I laughed and said, "well, we had one h-e-double hockey sticks of a night ourselves!"
My husband is one of the calmest men on the planet. God knew I needed him to keep my head on straight because although people always say that I am such a "calm mom" I definitely feeling anything but calm at times. Anywho, he made this amazing dinner last night. The theme of our marriage is basically, where you are weak, I am strong. I am an awful cook, but Mike can serve up some pretty spectacular meals. Problem is, we are raising a bunch of picky-vickies! If you follow me on instagram, you'll see these big fun dance parties most nights after dinner, but what you miss is the crying and hollering that goes on just before we bust out the dance music. It's often high drama at our dinner table. Anyone with me?????
We have failed miserabley at getting our kids to be good eaters. Seriously, they are the worst. Sometimes we have the attitude of who cares and other times we swear we are going to solve the problem. We know all the areas we go wrong, and we think we know how to make it right, we just haven't made it happen.
Anywho, Mike got his feather's all ruffled and some kids got yelled out for not eating. I acted like a five year old myself and couldn't stop laughing at the big girls lip-syncing Chain Breaker in the middle of the chaos. We always try to be on the same page with parenting, even when we have different ideas about how things should go. But last night, I blew it. Had I been Mike, I would have been furious with me. And he was a little angry, truth be told.
He took the two girls who ate out to DQ for ice cream and the rest of us were at left at home. I ate every bite of my dinner! Darn it! (Somebody had to stay behind and be the grown-up.) The boy was howling. He was a puddle of mess over missing the ice cream. He likes his sweets and it devastated the little guy to miss out.
By the time the night ended, we all apologized. I said I was sorry to Mike for acting like a five year old, laughing like a crazy person and not backing him up. The kids apologized for not eating and vowed to do better. Everyone kissed and hugged and we all ended the day forgiven.
I think that's the key to Joyful children. We don't just assume that others know we are sorry. We don't hold grudges. Everyone humbles themselves no matter what side of the war they are on, and apologizes out loud to the other person or people. Sometimes it's "I'm sorry I yelled like a crazy person" that's usually me, and sometimes it's, "I'm sorry I didn't eat" or I'm sorry for ________, whatever the offense happened to be.
People have asked me, "Why is it so easy for you to forgive others?" The answer is pretty simple. I can clearly see mountains of my own sin, mistakes, errors, shortcomings, whatever you want to call it, in my own life. I believe that when Jesus died on the cross, he did it to wash away my sin. I also know that the bible says in Matthew, "to the extent that you forgive others, you will also be forgiven." Matthew 6:14-15.
That means I have to make the choice to forgive. I've made the same mistakes that most other people make, and I want to be forgiven completely for them. So I extend Grace. It frees me up to be Joyful. To love the people around me without carrying burdens of anger and resentment.
So, when the war was over, I went to lay down with one of the offenders of not eating her dinner. She told me all kinds of stuff about school. Stuff that she needed to get off her chest and talk through. Stuff that I would have missed had I held on to the frustation of her not eating. Because although I was laughing, I will admit that I am often at my wits' end with them for not eating!
We can't hang on to mistakes. We can't hang on to our kids mistakes. I think that learning how to forgive yourself and others is a skill that takes a ton of practice, but if your house is anything like mine, we have endless opportunities to grow in this area.
"Time" should not always be the forgiving factor in your family. In other words, waiting for time to heal the wounds usually only grows the problem. It's like a snowball effect. You hang on to a little frustration and then the person lets you down again. Or doesn't eat their dinner again. Or has another temper tantrum. Or fights about their clothes, again. When you don't take a minute to say your sorry's for YOUR part, because you most likely played a part, your anger just grows and grows and grows. Eventually, the ticking bomb explodes with words that cannot be erased.
I think that hugs are immensley important to kids. Big strong squeezy ones. Hugs that say, The slate is clean. You're free as a bird to go and love. Some kids are natural huggers and others you may think, Oh they aren't the huggy type. Good news, we are almost all huggy types. They all need physical touch whether you think they do or not. I'll write more about this another day....
Until then, Hug. Forgive. Love. When you have a momma tantrum, don't stew over it. Go to those babies as soon as you can and it's okay for grown ups to say to kids, "Mommy was wrong. I regret what I said. I regret what I did. I am ashamed of how I acted. Please forgive me. I will try my best to not do that again." Get rid of the crud. Call a trusted friend to confess if you need to.
Mike and I are prayerful that if we train them up to be humble and kind, to learn to forgive themselves and others, that they will grow up to be amazing spouses and co-workers and friends and neighbors who also know how to be humble and kind. ( Sorry Tim for stealing your line!) :-)