This morning we had to run a bunch of errands that included a little trip to Target. Mike got the babies a pretzel and Sprite. As we were coming back into the house, I asked Lukey to bring in the cup of Sprite. To which he said, "N-O. No."
Eventually my response was, "If you don't get the Sprite, you aren't coming into the house," and so he did.
I was telling Mike about the incident. His response to Lukey was, "You can't do that. You know you need to listen to your mother." I am always thankful that he has my back, and vise versa.
And my response to Lukey was the same as always. "I need you to listen to me. It is important to follow directions. Even when you don't, I still love you just the same. No matter what you do, you'll always be my boy and I'll always love you."
I'm using this silly-ish example to say, I have been learning a lot about unconditional love. No. Matter. What. Love.
And I still have a long way to go.
I believe God loves us this way.
With four small kids, we are often dealing with one type of misbehavior or another. As quickly as I can deal out the consequence, I want to calm down and regroup and then deal out an equal load of love.
The same goes with Mike, except for sometimes it takes me (a minute or two) longer. ;-)
I think we all live up to people's expectations of us. We act a certain way with certain people, depending on what we think they are expecting. I try to keep the feeling and theme in our home focused on love, although we can each be wildly unloving, rude, selfish and self-centered.
I want to always be on the lookout for the good and continuously remind them of how much Joy that goodness brings me. "I love the way you help keep your sister safe near the water....I love when you don't complain about unloading the dishwasher...I love how you include your brother when you play. I love that you put first things first and get your homework finished as soon as you walk in the door." The more I tell them of how thankful I am for their good choices, the faster they seem to stick and become habits, although we are all guilty of sliding the wrong way from time to time.
The Friday night before Easter, our boy made a terrible choice to not listen to Mike and me. We were all about to go to an Easter egg hunt. Being the impulsive 5 year old that he can be, he made a terrible choice not to listen and we made him stay home and miss the entire egg hunt. Without going into all of the details, the punishment definitely fit the crime. It BROKE MY HEART to make him stay home. He was sad. So sad. Very VERY sad. Bawling crying, basically howling and begging for mercy and forgiveness and "another chance" but the punishment had to happen. We were at a neighbor's house, 5 houses and a street away and could hear him screaming from his bedroom. (Whoever said BOYS couldn't be a tad dramatic obviously never raised a BOY!) It could have possibly made me even more sad than him. I HATE DEALING OUT TOUGH CONSEQUENCES. It is definitely NOT my strong spot in parenting.
When the punishment was over, we talked about how much we love him. There was no doubt in his mind or my mind that even though he'd made a bad choice, and had to pay the price for it, that didn't change our love for him at all. In fact, we have to remind them, God says if we love you, then we will discipline you. It's part of the way we love.
All of that to say, it is HARD, but I encourage anyone who is in the trenches of motherhood, it is possible to be a disciplinarian and loving at the same time. The discipline part is also the loving part, especially when it is followed up with forgiveness and unconditional love.
I made the mistake for years with our oldest of holding on to my anger. She was very strong-willed and not born with the people pleasing personality. The girl was born knowing what she wants and she's willing to fight for it. (Now I see that as such a gift to her! It has taken her so far in the elementary school years. When she sets her mind to something, she can achieve anything! ) As a toddler, one event of misbehavior led right into another and another. Of course I loved her, but never took the time to say, "I love you EVEN IF, EVEN WHEN, NO MATTER WHAT!" Had I disciplined her and then reminded her that she was still worthy of all of my love, I can't help but wonder if we'd have had a lot less drama. I wish I would have known to take the time to mend my own angry heart and hers.
Now I know better, so we do better, and the results are priceless!
Dish out the appropriate discipline. (At times you may have to calm down before speaking so that you don't say something to harsh that you'll soon regret, or a consequence that you aren't willing to follow through with. )
Love. "I love you even when you____________."
Our relationships are all that really and truly matter. Make them count. Find more Joy in the Chaos.