And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works… Hebrews 10:24
Mason’s baseball team made it to the Championships. But with all the rain and cancellations, the only slot they could get for the game was the last Wednesday of school, from 7 p.m. to 9 .m. That meant Jocelyn was up way too late during an already crazy-busy week. Add to that Zack’s occasional preteen attitude, mix, and shake. The result was Jocelyn and Zack going at each other while getting ready for bed that night.
Bedtime is my motherhood Achilles heel. That’s when my tank is on empty. All I want to do is punch my time card, and chill out. It is NOT the time I want to deal with squabbling kids.
Lo and behold, I dealt with it calmly. Maybe I was less stressed with things winding down. Maybe it was the look of sheer exhaustion in Jocelyn’s eyes that tapped into my compassion. Maybe it was the great things Zack has been doing recently that balanced out his terrible behavior in that moment. More likely, it was God gifting me with the patience I’ve been begging Him for. Whatever it was, without my even noticing, I didn’t react in my typical impatient way.
It wasn’t until Mason came out of his room and asked to talk to me that I noticed anything different about myself. First of all, I usually blow a gasket when my kids come out of their rooms when I’ve just, finally, put them to bed. Second of all, it’s what Mason said.
“Mommy,” he said, “I just wanted to tell you that I think you did a great job just then. I don’t think I would have had your patience with Zack and Jocelyn tonight. They were a bit crazy.” As I hugged him with gratitude, he repeated, “Nice job, Mommy.” Wow! It was bizarre being on the receiving end of this conversation.
Although it sounds silly, I can’t remember the last time I got a compliment that meant this much to me. Mason may only be eleven, but you would have thought he was the CEO of a company giving an employee a promotion. I was that employee, and I grew a foot taller with his praise.
Motherhood is my vocation. Each and every day I think I’m trying my best, but most nights I look back and realize all the ways I fell short. I don’t beat myself up with too much mother’s guilt, but I do suffer from disappointment in myself. I constantly wonder if and when I’m ever going to improve. It’s nice to think that I may be making a little progress, and someone is actually noticing.
More importantly, Mason inspired me to continue to try harder. I know it’s common sense that praise motivates more than punishment, but actually experiencing it was a complete role reversal for me. I’m usually the one employing this technique, not the one receiving it.
It was a great reminder that our kids are always watching us; and how much louder our actions speak than words. It also reinforced the fact that I need to use more praise in my parenting, and far less punishment. Praise inspires; punishment belittles.
With less on my plate now, I have the time to focus on becoming a better mother. My new summer goal will be to constantly highlight when my kids do the right thing. Hopefully doing so will inspire them to do more of the same.
Questions For Reflection:
* Is my go-to response praise, or punishment?
* Have my kids ever praised me about an issue I’ve been working on?
* Did it inspire me to keep working on that issue?