I woke up late again this morning. It's a viscous cycle in our home. Our days are full of the busy routine of preschool drop off and pick up, school work, laundry, meal times, kitchen clean up, toy pick up, and bedtime rituals. Usually by the time the last little head hits the pillow, we both collapse on to the couch for the next several hours. It's our only down time. Before we know it, it's 11:00 or 12:00 and we should have been in bed hours ago. This is usually what leads to our late start mornings. We always have good intentions of going to bed early and getting up early. It just doesn't seem to happen as often as we would like it to.
Today has been an exceptionally frustrating day for me. My mind is flooded with all of the things I am failing at. I yelled at Ashlyn for not understanding a math problem quickly enough. This causes me to doubt my abilities to teach my children. Avery would not stop crying while I was trying to explain the lesson to Ashlyn, so I put him on the couch with a Preschool Prep DVD. This causes me to doubt my ability to balance the babies and the older kid's schooling. Aaron would not focus on his Language Arts lesson. I felt like I was nagging him all morning. This causes me to doubt my patience. When the kids finished lunch, all of them but Ashlyn, got up and left all their dishes on the table and headed downstairs to play. This causes me to doubt the effectiveness of all the training I have invested in them to be considerate helpers to others in all situations even at home. This afternoon, we opened up our history timeline to discover that it has been closed up before the glue dried. The last 10 figures we made had bled all over and had to be scraped off and redone. That caused me to want to cry!
The children are not my only insecurity at the moment. Sam and I have had some misunderstandings and disagreements this week that have lead to frustration for us both. That causes me to doubt how I am fulfilling my role as a supportive and loving wife. I'm also not meeting some expectations at church. This is always a tough one for me because it causes me to doubt my role in my husband's ministry. It often involves someone's interpretation of my character based on their understand of the situation only.
The point of telling you all this is not to complain, but to be real and to encourage! I admit, my wick is very short today. It seems like everything is getting under my skin. The slightest infraction from the kids causes me to come down hard on them. The problem is that they are not the problem at all. They are acting like normal active children. The problem is me and the expectations I have for myself and maybe even the little lies being whispered into my ear by the evil one.
So this causes me to think about what God's expectations of me are. After all, His expectations are the ones that I should be the most concerned with. Not necessarily my children's, my husbands, or even my own, and certainly not parishioner's. So, what does God expect from me? I believe it is actually a lot less complicated than I make it. I'm pretty sure that He does not expect every page in the Language Arts workbook to be completed, or every math lesson to be understood on the first try. Through His grace, He has introduced me to more seasoned homeschooling "moms to many" that can help me with ideas to occupy the baby and my preschooler during lessons and even advice on running my household. I'm also pretty sure that He is not frowning on my decision to pop in a video from time to time. He also reminds me that with perseverance and consistency, they will learn their manners. Of course, God is concerned with my children's education. I believe He wants me to do the very best I can in teaching them. To work and plan hard, but ultimately even that is not my most important mothering responsibility.
Our greatest command is to "love God with all our heart, all our soul and, all our strength." (Deut. 6:5) I think the same could be said about how we are to love our children. That may seem like a no brainer and it should be easy right? Most of the time it is, but then there are those days like today. Those days where the doubt, the lies, and maybe even the selfishness that we all possess starts to creep in. What do we do then? I think we have to lean on God. The one that loves our children more than even we can imagine. I think we have to look to Him to understand what this kind of love looks like. When I think about love, I am always reminded of the verse that has been the theme for our family from the very beginning. Even before Sam and I were engaged, this verse brought us together during a time when we were on the brink of parting ways. I believe because I truly believed it and it penetrated his heart, that it sealed our future together.
1 Corinthians 13 says........
If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.
And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.
This chapter says so much, but what always sticks out to me are the parts that say "Love never fails." and "But the greatest of these is Love." If we love our kids, we won't fail them and loving them is the most important thing of all. My own personal challenge is to remember to love them in the midst of the chaos. It's easy to snap or to blow up. The challenge is to learn to put that childish reasoning and those childish actions behind us. It's tough, but we can lean on our Lord to help us. It's really the only way since we can not do it under our own strength. At least I know I can't!!!!
We also have to remember that we must let go of the expectations we have of ourselves and those that others have of us. We will never be able to meet either of them every time. I also know from experience that children are quick to forgive. Adults often have a hard time forgiving and letting go. Whenever I have had to say I'm sorry to the kids for my behavior, they usually not only forgive, but totally forget within minutes that I was ever ugly or hateful to them.
So it's simple! Love God! Make sure your kids know that you love them. When you mess up, be quick to ask for forgiveness. Don't be so hard on yourself. Remember, they totally forgot what you did when you said, "I'm sorry." Be confident in who God says you are. You are His beloved! Listen to His voice and not the voice of others. Press on mamas!!!!