I said I would never take our children to see Santa before Thanksgiving and we did. (It was a scheduling thing and a final attempt at a Christmas card photo before the Thanksgiving Eve cutoff for a 50% discount at my chosen card retailer.)
I said I wouldn't get a live tree before December 1st and we did that this year too. (Again, a scheduling issue as we will be out of town this weekend and my hubby had a break in his schedule yesterday that allowed just enough time to procure a couple and set them up.)
I have said a lot of things in my life that I had to later recant. Most of them have to do with parenting. I will never take my child in public with a face that dirty...
I would never allow my child to act like that...
My child would never...
These declarations born out of idealism are tested in the fire of real life. A few make it, but many others go up in flames.
There are certainly foundational truths in life that are black and white, but there are a whole host of others that are grey. Those grey hills are often the places we die unnecessarily. We undermine our relationships over meaningless points.
To be clear, I think it is vital that we establish guardrails in the places that count, lest we find ourselves in a no man's land devoid of morals and absent of truth. But I wish we would go a little easier on each other in the areas where it doesn't matter. Moms seem to be the worst about this with each other. The vast majority really are doing our best with what we have. Let's love and encourage each other in godly parenting rather than taking cheap shots at each other or at ourselves.
The painful truth is that is more often sinful pride motivates my adherence to certain sticking points, much moreso than godliness. Most of the time when I am irrational about things it is born out of fear. If I don't teach them ___, they will certainly fail spectacularly in life...
But we follow a God who exhorts us to faith, not fear. He has a plan for these little lives. He has entrusted them to US for these beginning chapters. We need not be paralyzed with fear, but rather stay tuned in for His guidance and direction about what to zone in on. I am finding that answer to be different with each child.
Ten days at home with my children has worn me down enough to remind me of this perspective: Am I disciplining over this because it matters or just because I am
annoyed? What things am I hung up on that are about image or personal preference? Do these things really matter when it comes to the condition of my children's hearts?
They are hard questions to stomach sometimes...but good ones to ask. They humble and challenge me, but ultimately they free me up--to say yes more often or to relax enough to laugh when my first reaction is to scowl or bristle.
In those rare moments when I heed the check in my spirit, it is rewarded. The impact on my children is frequently instaneous. A mother's approving laughter and smile do wonders for her children.
I don't intend to willfully sacrifice lessons that matter, but I am finding there is a whole lot of room for me to lighten up and show more cheerfulness, joy and love.