I love having my kids home for summer. I’m not ready to send them back yet. It’s amazing however, how I learn so much about myself as a mom when they are all home in my care.
Like when all four of them are yelling for me at the same time. I’m not saying this doesn’t happen on occasion during the school year, but when they are all home during the summer?
YES!!! It happens all. the. time.
My ears are beginning to get burned out, and the word “mom”, is beginning to be something of a naughty word these days. Especially when it is used 4-5 times in a row. All you moms know what I’m talking about.
The famous, “mom, mom, mom, MOM!!, talk that happens while you are busy talking on the phone or helping someone else in your house. As if they are the only person in your life who exists.
What I have learned, is that they yell and all talk at once, wanting me to do, and be at their beck and call. Then, when I need them, or I am trying to talk to them; their eyes glaze over.
It is then that they don’t need me or want to associate with me at all.
“Are you asking me to do something?”
“Are you talking to me?”
“Did you tell me to take care of that?”
“I didn’t hear you say that.”
I am beginning to feel like I am a micro-manager, and it’s a job I really don’t like.
Especially when those I manage don’t seem to listen, but need me for every. single. detail. of their life. Especially the important details such as:
“mom, where is my stick?”
“I don’t know honey, did you give me your stick?” I reply.
“No, but I laid it over there so you should know.”
“I haven’t seen it honey.” I reply again.
“Well, I need that stick for my walk in the woods with my cousins, I need you to help me find it.”
All of this happening while I’m trying to enjoy a camping weekend with my family, and a conversation with my sisters whom I rarely am afforded quality time. So this stick conversation is beginning to get on my nerves, and feel like wasted breath and words. Yet, in the same sense this stick is so important to my 5 year old. What do I do? Give in and find the stick, or continue the conversation she interrupted?
This last weekend, we took the kids camping or “glamping” if you like, with my family for a few days.
Because I was with the kids the entire time in a small(I mean really small cabin), with way too much stuff, I felt like I was the manager of every item, meal, activity, and detail.
“Can we have a treat?” “No. We are having dinner in 20 minutes.” Then begins the argument of why they deserve the treat. “They, are just so hungry.” I stand firm with No! Five minutes later I see them walking around with a bag of chips. Why did they even ask? Why did I waste my breath?
Can we swim? “Yes, but put sunscreen on.” Then, when I asked, “did you put sunscreen on?” They would look at me with those glazed-over eyes like they had no idea what I was talking about.
After swimming, I would say, “make sure to hang up your towel and swimsuit, so they will be dry when you want to use them again.” An hour later, I would find the suits and towels in the bottom of the swim bag. AWESOME!!
So what do I do now?
YELL? I am famous for raising my voice.
I am also famous for lots of long talks about what we need to fix, all of which include that glazed-over look again.
I don’t like yelling.
I hate the arguing.
I also don’t like repeating myself five times, and it seems to be about the 3rd or 4th time that I repeat it; that I begin to YELL.
And yet, I also don’t want to be responsible for their wet towels at the bottom of the bag.
How do I help them learn?
I am learning that if I just leave the swim towels at the bottom of the bag, it is a good learning experience. It helps me from yelling, and allows them to learn when they go to use them again that wet towels are not fun to dry off with.
I think that form of teaching is called Love and Logic right?
Well, whatever it is; I’m not so good at it.
Mostly, because it makes me crazy to think about the wet towels at the bottom of the bag. So crazy that I would rather just hang them up and scold them while I do it.
However, I am beginning to think that the scolding's go in one ear and out the other.
Or… it’s when those glazed-over eyes show up and they start to think about their favorite Pokémon card or television series.
To tell you the honest truth, I am sick of scolding, I am sick of talking, I am sick of asking.
I’m tired of being interrupted, and argued with.
Then I remember, I think that those things come with Motherhood.
I have to teach them. That’s my job.
I must find a way not to feel tired of it. I have to find a way to get through.
My ears and my mouth are so tired. My brain is spent from trying to figure out how to reach them.
So… I am learning that I have to leave the wet towels behind. How will they ever learn that wet things must be hung out to dry if they don’t ever have to experience the fun of getting back into a wet swim suit or drying off with a wet towel?
They certainly have not learned it from me asking them to do it.
I think they have to experience it.
As I have thought and pondered over how I could talk less and get my teaching across more this weekend, I struggled to find the whole answer.
Then, I was listening to a talk this morning. I actually just clicked on a month and a year randomly from our LDS General Conference sessions that happen twice a year; and clicked on a random talk. This is the talk I stumbled on, called Mothers and Daughters by M. Russell Ballard. It was given in April 2010.
I was struck by this quote:
“Now, mothers, I understand that it sometimes appears that our children aren’t paying attention to the lessons we’re trying to teach them. Believe me—I’ve seen that glazed-over look that comes to the eyes of teenagers just when you’re coming to what you think is the best part of your instruction. Let me assure you that even when you think your daughter is not listening to a thing you say, she is still learning from you as she watches you to see if your actions match your words. As Ralph Waldo Emerson is believed to have said, “What you do speaks so loud that I cannot hear what you say”
I feel as though this talk was hand-picked for me to listen to today. I certainly felt led to it as an answer to my pleadings with the Lord.
It was so nice to hear him say that he too has seen that glazed-over look.
It’s almost reassuring to know that I’m not the only one.
My mom has even commented that she see’s it in the eye’s of my kids too.
The quote he shared from Ralph Waldo Emerson struck me the most.
“What you do speaks so loud that I cannot hear what you say.”
Do my actions match my words?
When I tell my kids to stop yelling at each other over bothersome things, because it isn’t kind. Is it then appropriate for me to yell back at them for something that bothers me?
When I want or need their help do I ask politely? Do I then follow through when they need my help?
When they are talking to me, do I give them my full attention? Or do I mumble around with the words, “uh-huh, or oh-yeah?” Then demand that they pay full-attention to me?
If I want them to stop arguing with me, then I must be aware of my own arguments, and how I pursue them.
So… my summer lesson:
Let my actions speak so loud that later in life they might remember what I did, and not what I said.
…and I hope they don’t remember that all I did was scold, yell, and argue.
I did a lot of that this weekend, and I didn’t like it.
So I’m giving it a try:
Love and Logic, and appropriate actions.
Will it solve all the problems? NO. But, hopefully, most.
Am I going to fail on occasion? Probably many occasions, but I’m going to keep on trying.
Being a mother is the most important job I have been given, and I want to do my best.
I want my father in heaven to be pleased with my efforts.
One last thought that I was struck by in this same talk came from this quote, and he was mostly speaking to the youth during this part:
“When you are willing to listen and learn, some of life’s most meaningful teachings come from those who have gone before you. … How much better your life will be if you will follow the noble example of the faithful followers of Christ” M. Russell Ballard
If I can strive to make my kids heroes, and those they look up to, the faithful followers of Christ; I think I might just win this war.
Which means that I too must be a faithful follower if I want them to listen and learn from me.
Oh man, I’ve got a lot of work to do.
Thanks for letting me share my thoughts here.
I hope and pray that you might learn from the lessons I share here.
As mothers, we all have to learn from one another.
We are in this battle together.