Monday, August 29, 2011

I love my job! :)

aSometimes I think I’m the luckiest mom in the world.  I have the greatest children!  It’s a joy and a privilege to spend time with them.  I feel bad for moms whose greatest wish is for their children to get old enough to go to school, for summer to be over and school to start, for them to be old enough to take care of themselves.  Those moms are missing out!  I hear it all around me all the time, especially in the summer:  “I canNOT wait for school to be back in session.  I can not take another week of this child!”  It’s hard to go and sit at the park while the boys play contentedly and listen to the moms around me grumble.  But it’s also no surprise.  I mean, I wouldn’t want to spend days on end with some of their children either!  Good heavens.  Sadly, most of them don’t realize that they have no one to blame but themselves.

The last time we were at the park, I watched as two moms interacted with their children.  One mom had a boy, about 5, and a girl, about 3.  The girl was throwing sand.  The mom probably said 15 times “Please stop throwing sand.”  The little boy got in on the action, and there was sand flying everywhere.  By now the mom was  quite frazzled and the pitch of her voice had gone up an octave or two.  “Please. Stop. Throwing. Sand. Now.” she said.  They kept on.  She threatened to take away their toys.  The little boy threw them at her.  She stomped off, angry.  The situation continued to escalate.  Through it all, my twosome watched with huge eyes.  At one point, one of them looked at me and said, “Mom?  When is she going to DO something instead of just yelling?”  Wise child.  But then…he knows.  This mom doesn’t ask multiple times.  She doesn’t threaten.  She asks quietly and politely, and expects compliance.  She follows through immediately with consequences for inappropriate behavior.   And at 6, they are a delight to be around, and I can’t think of a single place I would be concerned about taking them.  Even the one who makes me crazy sometimes with his 1,000 questions and his short attention span and his sensory issues and his incessant need to be in the middle of everything and every conversation?  Yep.  He’s a delight to be around, and definitely knows how to behave.

The second mom had 3 young boys, probably 8, 5, and 2.  The 2 year old was being 2—pestering his big brothers as they played in the sand.  The 8 year old kept whining at him.  The mom told him 5 or 6 times that if he didn’t stop whining, they would go home.  (Her voice was incredibly whiny.)  He kept whining.  The 2 year old kept pushing his buttons.  You could see that it was deliberate…the look on his face was very clear.  He knew exactly what was going on.  The mom finally lost it, grabbed the 8 year old by his arm, and marched him off the beach, berating him for his display of attitude.  I kept wondering when she was going to realize that he was only mimicking what was being modeled for him. 

With children who behave like that, it’s no wonder that moms are thrilled to see summer vacation come to an end.  Even toddlers can be taught to obey.  It’s a matter of consistency.  Meaning what you say, and being willing to follow through with consequences if they choose to ‘blow you off.’  It’s hard.  It requires being willing to take action.  To be thoughtful.  And proactive.  It’s definitely not for everyone.  It is, after all, far simpler to gripe about how ‘busy’ and ‘active’ your children are.  To complain about the fact that they are in to ‘everything’ and you must spend every minute watching and chasing them.  Look in the mirror!!  You have trained them that way.  Have taught them that their behavior is acceptable.  They learn SO FAST that they don’t have to obey until Mom turns purple and there is smoke coming out her ears.  It’s hard to undo that teaching.

Frustrated, misbehaving children.  Frustrated, irritated, (angry?) moms.  Is it any wonder that scripture states clearly, in 2 different places, these verses?  Or that they go together??    It’s fairly clear if you read Ephesians 6:1-4 or Colossians 3:20-21.  They both say

Children, obey your parents…fathers, do not exasperate your children.

Why do children need to obey their parents?  Because learning to obey Mom and Dad is the precursor…and practice…for obeying God.  That’s the goal—obeying God!  So why aren’t parents supposed to exasperate their children?  Imagine how difficult it is to obey when parents don’t know what they want!!  Or at least don’t make their expectations clear.  Oy! 

Am I perfect?  Heavens NO!!  Are my children?  Absolutely not!! They misbehave.  I yell.  We have frustrating days.  We also have wonderful fun days, and it’s the greatest privilege in the world to be their mom.  And their teacher.  I love love LOVE having them home with me day in and day out.  Seeing them learn.  Watching them grow.  Someday they will go to school.  And I will be both happy and sad.  Happy, because I know that they will love it, and that they will be wonderful additions to a classroom.  And sad, because I will miss them terribly.

(Please note:  this is NOT directed at anyone in particular.  It is simply something I see over and over and over, and decided it was time to write about it.)


  1. Really...Right? Aren't we the most blessed people in the world to spend our days (and nights and all in between) with our children?! Someone we know recently posted how happy she was to send her oldest off to college so she only had to make it a few more years before the next would be gone, too, and she'd be 'free.' We know this woman. She means it. Yikes. I am amazed how people wish this precious time with their kids away... Not judging, just baffled.

  2. You know, when Brent left home for college, it was very bittersweet. I knew that we would miss him, but we were so excited to see him fly on his own. (I think if I'd known then that he wouldn't be home to stay for more than a weekend ever again, that we'd have several years without him at Christmas, and that we'd even have a year that we couldn't talk to him on the phone at Christmas I might have flipped!) His adventure hasn't been without its' bumps in the road, but he has done a nice job of paving the way for his sisters. As the big girls left, it was easier. No rejoicing that they were gone, to be sure, but much rejoicing at the new adventures in their lives. My last girl graduates next June, and it will seem very quiet around here with only the 2 little guys at home. It is very interesting to consider the things we'll have the 'freedom' to do when T. graduates since there won't be any more sports to keep us here, but that's part of the new adventure. :)

  3. I had a hard time with this post. Felt a little judgmental. Just because moms are excited for kids to start school again doesn't indicate that their children are ill behaved. Sometimes the kids are bored, the moms have run out of new ideas, or it's just time to get back into a routine. And, as you showed in your post a week ago, we all have those days when being a mom is difficult. That's just real life. And I always get a little scared when I hear someone say that someone else is doing a poor job of parenting, not knowing the other person's circumstances, the personalities involved or if that mom was just having an off day. And sometimes when our kids misbehave, it's not the parent's fault.

  4. I'm sorry you felt this was judgemental. Certainly not my intent! I didn't mean to imply that it's only bad parenting that makes moms want to send their children to school. I understand bored kids, but not moms who run out of ideas...why is it their responsibility to continually entertain their children?? Boredom is NOT a bad thing for kids, and learning to deal with it constructively is an extremely good thing!! The families I observed at the park may or may not have been families I know, not specifically families I saw one day. That's neither here nor there. The fact remains that when parents continually grumble about how they canNOT wait for school to start because their child never listens to them or because they don't know what to do about blatant, in-your-face disobedience, they generally need to look in the mirror and start there.

    Do I get frustrated? You bet! Is it because my children misbehave? Nope. They're typically fairly to very well behaved, quite frankly. As I said, I can't think of a single place I would need to think twice about taking them...they're that well behaved. My frustration stems from the fact that I have a child with some fairly significant learning and developmental issues and an extremely rare hearing loss that affects nearly everything about life for him. He's a delightful child, but the learning curve for him--and for me!--is very steep. THAT'S what leads to my frustration. And when he is finally ready to go to a classroom setting for school, I will send him with much rejoicing. But the rejoicing will be in the fact that he is ready for school, not in the fact that he will be gone all day and out of my hair. I can't think of a single place I'd rather have my crew than here with me.

    Do you know me? And my children? Do you know that there is someone in my life who openly criticized us for being to hard on our big guys when they were little (and this person had no children!). Then she had children, and ours became teens. She adored our teens. Now ours are in college and she has adolescent children, and cannot understand why we had such delightful teens and she struggles day in and day out with hers. My husband's response when she asked? "A large part is in the foundation you lay when they are young. Remember that we were 'hard' on them? Well...the tradeoff is that there is significant love and respect that runs both ways between us and them. And they know it. It was worth all the hard work when they were young."

    If you feel judged, I'm sorry. For me, when I feel judged, I have learned to look in the mirror and ask God to reveal what in my life is causing the conviction. It's rarely the words of the other's most often the guilt of knowing they were correct.

  5. Just to clarify. I didn't feel judged. This wasn't about me at all. There is a difference between me personally feeling judged and feeling that a comment was judgmental. Your thoughts are good and biblical and sound. It was the tone that came across that I'm afraid will make moms feel defeated instead of encouraged. I think there's a way to portray your message in a way that comes across as a mom who has learned and is learning and wants to share helpful things she has learned that doesn't make others feel "less than" because they do things differently. We all need to know that we are not alone in our struggles in life and that those who teach us can relate to us and don't think themselves better than us, but further down the path of experience. People want and need to know that they are understood. That's when they are open to teaching and change.

  6. Great post, Jennifer! I think it was right on the money! I didn't think it was judgemental at all. There are a number of people I know of who need to take heed. The ones that bother me the most are the parents who are too busy with their "smart" phones and ignore their kids completely! Why does it have to become my job to tell their children they can't shove another (younger) child off the slide and use them as a step-stool? (Seriously, it happened.) I wish there were more moms like you!!!

  7. Yikes! Sounds like you are not being very fair or understanding toward these women. You said yourself that you yell at your children, so how can you be attacking those other women?