Sitting around a table at Culver’s, my best friend said those words to me as her two toddler-aged kids were anxious for their food and my almost-3-year-old daughter was tempted to out of her chair, something I just don’t allow at restaurants, even though she had her burger, fries and chocolate milk.
Meanwhile, my almost-4-month-old son was finally content, despite the fact he had already spit up on the onesie I had just put on him before we went into the restaurant. He had drenched the original onesie and sweatshirt jacket with multiple spitting-up episodes during our earlier 25-minute walk that was going to have to be my day’s exercise. My diaper bag, of course, was void of any more clothes for my messy boy, bibs to catch some of this inevitable spit-up, gas drops [Maybe his stomach was bothering him, right?] and Tylenol [I just noticed it was missing when I was looking for the gas drops.] But, hey, I did have bendy straws for the toddlers drinking chocolate milk.
Yes, this is my life.
I don’t care that Cate wanted a burger, fries and chocolate milk because when we’re at home she chooses to eat tomatoes, black olives, cheese, blueberries, strawberries, granola bars and salad with “sauce.” She’ll try whatever we’re eating because that’s what she’s eating too.
But I do care if she whines about finishing her burger because she suddenly decides she doesn’t like ketchup, which she was dipping her fries in two minutes before. I do care if she whines about wanting ice cream [Hey, it is Culver’s …] and then adamantly tells me “No!” to my request for her to finish at least the meat of her burger.
And then I caught myself doing something I told myself I wasn’t going to do. “Eat this much, and then you can have some ice cream.” And then I said it like eight more times. Like I was begging and negotiating.
I’ve never been a fan of “Eat two more bites and you can have a treat.” And it’s not the bribery that bothers me. I just think if there is a hamburger sitting on the plate, then finishing that should come before any ice cream. And, really, if there is room for ice cream, there is room to finish that burger.
Oh, and the negotiating … with a 34-month-old. That’s just counter-productive. And it stresses me out. And it gives the child control over a situation that isn’t hers to control.
And not so much because I’m the mom and I’m in control.
But rather because of who God has called me to be. I’m an example to Cate. I’m her care-giver. I’m responsible for teaching her to trust in the Lord her God with all her heart, mind and soul. To teach her those things, I need to do those things.
So she ate a couple bites of her burger, but then she whined about having to hold my hand while we walked through Culver’s, first to refill my cup with Diet Dr Pepper and then one to order her ice cream. I told her if she continued to whine, we were going home so she could take a nap. She whined again before I got my refill. So we walked on past the counter and straight to the car.
I have expectations for her good and the good of this family. I communicated them. She chose not to obey them. I’m sure another day will be different. In fact, the car ride home was different. She told me something that made herself laugh. She gave me kisses. I’m sure next time she’ll get her Culver’s ice cream.
Last night I started a book called “She’s Gonna Blow!” by Julie Ann Barnhill. It’s supposed to be a practical book for helping moms deal with anger. I don’t consider myself an angry person, but I do allow frustrations and stresses to determine my tone and reactions. I don’t want to be like that, especially to Cate, and later Ben.
After I got past the fact the title includes “gonna,” a pet peeve of mine, I started reading the book. Some of it is silly to me, but I found some good points worth writing down in a notebook. I’m only a couple chapters in, but I’m hoping Barnhill’s words can encourage me in a change God has already started in my heart.
The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in lovingkindness … –Psalm 103:8
God is encouarging me to be more like him. I want to be less snippy. I want to be clear about expectations and stand by them. I want to discipline in love and teach these [and other] truths because I believe them with my whole heart.
I naturally deal with frustration by snipping, demanding different behaviors and trying to regain control over the situation. I want to replace those reactions with being more like God. Gracious. Slow to anger. Abounding in lovingkindness.
Toward the people I know.
Toward strangers who may not prompt a verbal reaction but who bring out these same internal reactions.
A volcano, in essense, is a natural thing that explodes under pressure. And that’s exactly what can happen to us when motherhood gets to be just too much for us. In an instant we can change from the peaceful, nourishing women we want to be into Mount Momma — spitting fire and brimstone at all who cross our path. –From “She’s Gonna Blow!”
Oh, yes, I know about that quick change in demeanor, tone and attitude. And that’s what I’m hoping God can change as I learn about healthier, more productive ways to deal with toddler disobedience, changing circumstances that are out of my control and small inconveiences that may ruin the moment but certainly shouldn’t ruin my day.
Because this day is my life.
It’s Cate’s life too. And Ben’s, although he has less to say about it right now.
This is my life. And I want God’s grace, peace and lovingkindness to abound even more than it already does.
This is my life. And I don’t want to live it in the confines of my house, where eating lunch may slightly less complicated.
This is my life. And I want to proud of how I live it. For myself. For my family. And for my God.