“But the one who listens and does not act is like a person who built a house on the ground without a foundation.” Luke 6:49
I am a terrible mother at bedtime. By that hour of the day my tank is empty, and there’s not a shred of patience left in me. To protect my kids from the mean mommy that lurks within, my husband usually puts our kids to bed.
That being said, in our household my husband has every Wednesday night off (my night off is Thursday). So tag I’m it for Wednesdays. Knowing this, I’m very conscious of keeping some energy and patience in reserve on Wednesdays so I can make it through bedtime.
Although bedtime is typically 8 p.m., we were just leaving the ball field at that hour. I spent the short drive home stressing the fact that my kids had to get ready for bed the second we got in the door. Despite my lecture, Zack decided to sharpen his drawing pencil at 8:30 p.m. and accidentally detached the sharpener from the pantry wall.
Putting aside my own desperate need for the freedom that was already supposed to be mine, I tried to help him. But three seconds into it, when I couldn’t fix the situation, the switch flipped inside of me. I COMPLETELY lost it: screaming and yelling to the point of flapping my arms like a crazy lady! Immediately, there was the frantic pitter-patter of little feet running up the stairs and bedroom doors slamming as all three kids ran for cover.
My kids know this side of me all too well. I suppose I don’t have enough mommy guilt to feel bad about it; a person can only do so much. We all have our breaking points, and bedtime is mine (there are a lot of other times too, but…).
I justify it by saying it would be worse if I were a perfect mother. My kids would have to live up to that when they’re parents. I jokingly say I’m saving them from therapy by being so flawed.
The real truth is, I know I need to try harder. I can’t be like the person in the parable from Luke 6 who listens but does not act. At the very least, I need to put some sort of bedtime safety net in place, a foundation of sorts: a way to smooth things over if I misstep while walking through the bedtime minefield.
Over the summer I saw the movie Miracles From Heaven (a movie I highly recommend). Jennifer Garner plays the mom. Each night, she visits each of her kids after they have gone to bed. She asks them what they prayed for that night. I loved that the last memory each of her kids had before drifting off to sleep was of sharing their deepest hope with their mom.
I’ve always been a big fan of gratitude and Karen O’Connor’s Blessing Bag idea. So I’m combining concepts. This past weekend, I hung Blessing Bags off each of my kids’ beds. Every night now, I visit each of them after they have gone to bed. I ask them what they are most grateful for from that day. I write whatever they say on a little piece of paper, fold it, and then together we say, “Thank you God,” as I drop the paper into their bag.
No matter what transpired during the day, no matter if I lost my cool or not, their final memory before going to bed now is one of a loving time with me. More importantly, they are expressing deep gratitude to God. In my mind, there can be no stronger foundation to build upon.
Questions For Reflection:
* When is my weakest point in my parenting day?
* Is there a safety net, a foundation of sorts, I can put in place to either avoid the pitfall, or redeem the moment?
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