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Being Jello

Like most moms this season, I’ve been housebound with two sick kids. If dealing with two small children isn’t difficult enough, dealing with two sickies can really remind you that you’re deep in the mommy-trenches. Let me confess, lately I have not been the best at minding these trenches.

I try to be a patient mom. Loving, kind, compassionate, all that good stuff. But when I’m being pulled on, whined at, and followed around by crying kids, when I’m sleep deprived, and when I’ve watched the same episodes of Chuck and Friends, Phonics Farm, and The Aristocats enough times to warrant insanity, I’m not very patient. Or kind. Or anything except a…well, nevermind.

Did I mention my coffee pot broke? and that the succeeding three coffee pots weren’t to my coffee snob strength (read: sleep deprived) standards? Let’s not dwell on that part.

I read somewhere that parents should be like jello to their small kids – absorb their emotional ups and downs and respond evenly, to show them what emotional self control is. I try so hard to do this, and let me tell you, it is hard. I’ve blown it in this area too many times to admit this last month, and I’ve seen how it affects my kids. They’re more whiny, and sometimes the look on Micah’s face as I’ve responded with my own outburst is a mix of shock and hurt. Exactly what I strive to not ever cause.

Now that I’ve admitted how I’ve blown it with my kids, I’d also like to admit how I’ve blown it with the adults in my house. My temper has been so short, and I’ve been noticing just how much I do for them. And just how much I want them to do for themselves. We’re all adults around here, and frankly, I was too tired of being mom to everyone. Can I admit here that I’ve been in a pity-party for a long time? But I never said anything. I just got more and more frustrated. I realized just how bad it was when one day I imagined myself walking into the room and just cussing them out. I had to repent because it brought me so much satisfaction. Yes, I did immediately ask Davy for a time to talk things through. He told me my inner Great-Grandma is coming out, who never cursed when anyone could hear her, but paced her hallway in the dead of night cursing like a sailor.

Maybe I do have a streak of Great-Grandma in me, but these outbursts told me something very sad and important about my character. When the going got tough in my life, when I felt like every aspect was an uphill battle, my natural reaction was to take everything out on my kids. To those who I should be jello to and absorb their emotions, responding evenly and consistently, I exploded. But to those who I should express my frustrations with, talking things through and not keeping in what I should be communicating, I bottled up and didn’t take action. My sin nature wanted to vomit on those who can’t fight back, but it ran from those who could point out sin in my life and call me to an account of my actions.

It makes me sick to think of how filthy my heart still is. The power of repentance and forgiveness is beautiful, but to see this stuff still rise in my life, and to recognize that I have grossly mistreated my kids breaks my heart. Just because I’m an adult and have walked with the Lord practically my whole life doesn’t mean I have it all together, and this season has proved it to me. My natural inclination was to draw “strength” from the stink in my soul and not the fresh and living water of Christ.

I’m working on some ways to make that living water available to me more often. I’ll post my ideas soon and let you know how they’re working for me. But until then, I’m trying to live by the Law of Kindness again, which says that I will treat my family kindly because they are valuable, not because their actions deserve it.

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