Saturday, February 16, 2008

Too Much, Too Fast

Some days I wake up and I feel like I've fallen behind before my feet hit the floor. Like I hit the snooze button one too many times and I've missed the window for my shower, and the whole day is shot. I will never catch up. The kids argue with each other and I don't know how I will handle the conflict -- but no sense dealing with that one, because another one is fast on its heels. And the picky-eater-teething-feverish-toddler won't eat the oatmeal I had prepared but before I have time to think about what my next move is, he has thrown the bowl on the floor and now I have to clean before I feed. And the toddler is still hungry but now he is crying because I won't let him eat the sticky oatmeal off the floor (he has changed his mind about his meal preference) not because I have a huge issue about floor eating but because I can't remember the last time I mopped.

My sister calls it "defensive parenting" - when all you can do is react (usually poorly) to every situation that comes your way. There is no anticipating what your child will do or say next and so there is no proactive plan of attack hanging out in the wings.

Say I plan a trip to the library. I know the usual battles that will come up. And if I don't plan for them by talking the kids through them, the trip is exhausting and not one I am excited about doing again soon.

My battles: getting both big boys to stay with me while I walk - hands full of books and a squirming baby - from the car to the library doors; who is going to push the outside handicap door button - and who will push the inside door button; will the kids play computer this time?; will we actually read books there or just grab and go? And my personal favorite: controlling the kids while I am unloading and re-loading books into our library bin while the nice library-lady is scanning all 800 books we couldn't live without.

On my reactive parenting days, while we are waiting for the books to all be scanned, I am asking Jackson for the fourth time to not climb up the metal detectors, and then I am craning my neck to see if Davis is still getting a drink of water near the outside doors where 756 suspicous strangers have just entered and exited the library, all the while holding a baby that is fighting with all his might to hold a book firmly between his slobbery lips (right in from of the library police!), and that same Official is calmly reminding me of the 4 books that still have fines on them, "Looks like you have $1.85 in library fines... would you like to take care of that today?" Yeah. I would. Let me just pull that third arm out of my back pocket so that I can get that for you real quick.

Yes, I love feeling like one of "those moms." Its heartwarming to receive the sideways glances from unsympathetic grown-ups that scream, "Get CONTROL of those monsters!"

But in all fairness, a little fore-thought (and perhaps one less bop of the snooze alarm) could have prevented the whole scene. I know Jackson will climb up the metal detectors (why do they make them to look like a jungle gym anyway?), and Davis is always parched when we walk up to that desk. I know the definition of insanity, so I should instead try something new, hoping for a new result... "Ok boys. When we get up to the desk, I want you to sit with your backs to the desk wall and with your hands on your lap. Got it?"

There is really nothing profound about this example but the idea of parenting proactively is actually quite profound. It takes mental energy and prayer for divine wisdom to do it well. It requires sitting up and taking notice at the parenting situations you find yourself in and asking questions of it.
What will I say next time he does this?
What was his motivation when he did it?
What attitude was in his heart?
Is the behavior disobedient or just annoying?
What would the Bible term this kind of disobedience?
And when I figure out what behavior they should "put off", what behavior can I encourage them to "put on?"

Who considers these things, in the heat of the moment and instantly has solid answers? Very few. Certainly not THIS parent. But God has very clear instructions to believers, that we must ask for wisdom and when we do, He delights to give it to us (we hear the delight in the written prayers of Paul):

Ephesians 1:15-17
15 For this reason I too, having heard of the faith in the Lord Jesus which exists among you and your love for all the saints, 16 do not cease giving thanks for you, while making mention of you in my prayers; 17 that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of Him.

Colossians 1:9-11
9 For this reason also, since the day we heard of it, we have not ceased to pray for you and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, 10 so that you will walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; 11 strengthened with all power, according to His glorious might, for the attaining of all steadfastness and patience...

So in light of how much the Lord loves to give us wisdom and knowledge of Him, and considering how godly a task it is to raise God-fearing children, allow me to encourage you today to take a moment to sit at the feet of our Lord and asking Him for wisdom and knowledge for how to handle all your parenting situations. He will delight to answer such prayers.


Megan said...

Well said sis.

The Chirgwin Family said...

Thank you Jenne - I SO needed this encouragement! I have yet to get back to the library since disaster episode number umpteen, walking out with what little dignity I had left and two whining/crying children. Maybe someday. When they can all walk and pee by themselves.

Anonymous said...

You are so right Jenne. I think the one thing that the Lord has taught me the most is that He is the one that I can trust to help me raise kids that will serve and love Him. His Book has all the answers!