When we got married, Davy’s mom wrote down a short piece of advice for me that has shaped the way I approach marriage. It’s so short. It’s so simple.
Remember that you are on the same team.
I could probably write a hundred posts about how this has already impacted my marriage, but not today. This most recent time it came rushing to my memory was actually in a confrontation with Micah. It went something like this:
Micah: can I have a popsicle?
Me: let’s wait for Norah to wake up.
Micah, with a hurt and exasperated expression: you are ALWAYS pushing me away from my great plans!
Now, honestly, this unexpected accusation stung. We don’t speak this way to each other. It also made me mad. And then I wanted to sit him down right there and recount all the times over the last three years that I have given him exactly what he asked for. (Even though, nagging at my heart, I had been pushing him away from some inconvenient plans.)
But, of course, I didn’t. Instead, I sat on the kitchen floor with him and held back my mad-sad tears. I think we both stared at each other with the same expression for a long while. Since I didn’t really know how to deal with this kind of outburst yet, we glossed over it and made a plan together that was mutually satisfactory.
I figured I would have to pray on it to come up with a plan to deal with this, but thankfully God was one step ahead of me when we had a second outburst later that day. He brought Mary’s advice to my mind, clear as day, and I immediately recognized an unwelcome barrier going up between Micah and me: he had begun to feel that I was against him.
Oh, my heart! If I can get sentimental for just one tiny paragraph – it makes me so sad to see someone that I love so unbelievably dearly perceive my intentions as an attack. Especially my child. How it hurts!
Now back to my story. As soon as I realized what was going on, my words came gushing out, without a plan: you are mine and I am for you. You are loved and we are on the same team. You are important, just as everyone on our team is important. I am not fighting against you, I am fighting for you. We can work together, and you are valuable to our family.
Ok, I’ll admit that since this gush took place while he was brushing his teeth, I didn’t quite get the response I had
hoped for. It was more like, “ok. Uh, mom, can you move so I can spit?” But maybe my flood of affirmations needed to happen so I could hear them too. If I look at my family as a team, I’m more apt to remember that we aren’t fighting against each other. We are all learning to work toward the same goal, and we need to come alongside one another, encouraging and communicating. If my kids are part of our team, it means I can listen to their ideas as valuable, and I don’t need to habitually push them off. I’m not a one woman show. Being on a team means regularly communicating value to my team members. It means, as a coach, teaching and training. Working hard and sweating it out with them. It means being able to do life, love, character, and relationship with the Lord so that I can show them how. It even means being humble about my mistakes so we can all learn how to overcome together.
Remembering that my family and I are on the same team means letting go of my selfishness so that I can teach selflessness. It means giving up my agenda if I need to listen to someone else’s great plan. Of course, if the great plan means popscicles everyday, then it’s probably not a great plan. But some great plans are to have special mommy time with popsicles, and if I just took the time to listen, then I could make time for them.
Sadly, it’s easy to get into the habit of putting my kids’ ideas off – they’re not productive, they’re too messy, or they’re too inconvenient. But I want to show them that their ideas and creativity are welcome to our team. I want to be the kind of mom who listens fully first, and who shows that I want to hear their beautifully wild and crazy ideas, even if we can’t carry them out. Receiving this expression and communication, as I’m learning with Micah, translates as value and acceptance. I hope and pray that a team mentality will permeate my parenting skills. That as a coach, my responses will always communicate that I love you, and you are a valuable part of this family.