Saturday, April 17, 2010

Root Cause

Yesterday morning I was scrambling to get everyone out the door. The big kids had school. The little girls and I were heading out on a long-awaited, much anticipated pre-school field trip to the nature center. I was packing lunches and gathering mud boots, hats and mittens when Annie started to flip out.

It's kind of shocking when that happens. Maren flips out all the time so I pretty much expect that. But Annie is usually happy-go-lucky and goes with the flow. She didn't want to wear the pants she had on. They were apparently baby pants. She didn't want to put her shoes on. She didn't want to go. She hates it. Her tummy hurts. She wants to go with Daddy. She was mad: stomping her foot and crossing her arms. A little like this.

I didn't respond very gracefully. I stomped my feet and declared how much I hate my job. It was frustrating and we were going to miss the bus if we didn't hurry. I thought we could just skip it, but that didn't seem fair to Maren. Plus I knew she would have fun. I finally got her in the van and halfway down the driveway flipped a U-turn. You can do that when you live in the middle of a big field. She got in Mike's car. I threw my key down in the van and then couldn't find it. While I was looking for it, I regrouped.

I went over to her and told her how much I wanted her to come. She jumped into my arms and cried, "I'm scared!" At that moment my heart melted.

She was scared. She didn't want to fall into the pond like one of Jenna's friends did in Kindergarten. I don't know why we found it wise to tell her that story. I wanted to beat myself over the head. How could I be so oblivious?

I can't even tell you how many times I have been frustrated about something and taken it out on Mike. If I've had a bad day with the kids, I want to make him suffer. That happened for along time before I figured out, to his great relief, that my lashing out had nothing to do with him.

There have been lots of times that the kids have acted out and we figured out along the way that there was a reason. I just get so focused on what needs to be done that I don't take the time to talk to them about it. They may not realize it, but I should. No matter what, her behavior wasn't ok. But neither was mine. I'm the mom. I'm the grown up. It's my job to take the time and energy to get to the heart of the matter.

It's not my job to keep making sandwiches. It's not my job to get the van packed. It's not my job to get us to school on time. It's certainly not my job to throw my key down in anger.

It's my job to talk and encourage them to tell me what's going on in their minds and heart. It's my job to get to the root cause of what they're feeling. That is more important than field trips, mud boots, and beaver teeth because THEY are my job. Training, loving, teaching and helping them become the people God wants them to be.

I love my job and I don't want to get fired even though I probably deserve it at times. I have a good job.

"Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity." Colossians 3:12-14


mamabear said...

Great, honest post!

I think once you get to four kids or more and they're all still young, it's really hard not to have moments like this fairly regularly. When you barely have time to get a drink yourself, or go to the bathroom, and you're running without much rest 24/7, it is grueling--especially if there is no extended family around to give breaks to Mom and Dad.

When at least a few of them can pour their own drinks, get their own snacks, bathe without supervision, etc., it will be less consuming on a moment-by-moment basis, and we'll be able to temper our responses better. In the meantime, I stick my head in the Bible as much as possible and remember that if I put God first, he will make a success of my parenting, in spite of me. If I beat myself up over mis-steps, it will just exhaust me. They need me spiritually fresh.

Enjoying your blog! I'm a weirdo. Love birds. :)

Wayne Pederson said...


I'm in North Carolina tonight and had time to catch up on your latest blogs. Though I don't get to see you as much as I'd like, I sure enjoy these insights into your life. I love you.

a counter of blessings... said...

I have a daughter who has an anxiety disorder as well as a sensory processing disorder and meltdowns over clothing "not feeling good" are a regular battle for us and it can be soo frustrating and I totally know where you are coming from. But i really needed your words of encouragement - so thank you.