Even before the last s in the word rolls left my lips, I knew it was the dart that would pop the happy balloon of the moment. Why, Alexandra, why? Really? Threats with food? Why was it much too often this desperate take it all away from them cry to action? Do you know of no other way?
In those seconds of gut punching clarity I knew I had to find a kinder, smarter way to ask for what I needed from everyone in this home. Discipline methods that begin with "Here's what you're going to lose if you don't xxx!" are guaranteed heart breakers. My kids love fresh, warm cinnamon rolls, they mean Sunday mornings and introduce a day when we can forget about the work that Monday will bring. As for my threats and promises later that day of a future that does not include screen time, they feel just as half-assed and knee-jerk as the no cinnamon rolls promise.
If I needed any confirmation on how B.S. my discipline methods with my family had become, it was made sickeningly clear when mid-morning I put my hand up to apologize for my wackadackle ways and in unison I heard the kids side-mouth to one another, "Her hand's up, she is so mad, let's get the laundry done."
Right then, I felt it. The spikes that dug, the weight of the metal, the crown that I had woven for myself of raging power-mad Queen.
All or nothing, now or never, do it do do it. What happened to my deep-breaths-and-count-to-three mantra of patience? When did I lose it? Was it with the third child? Was it with the added hours of work and less hours of fun? Maybe it was the financial strain as children grow up, the pressures of trying to keep up with the people in my life, the need to include time to care for our body as we grow older. Yes to all of that and still, those are excuses.
As their parent, I do have the control to influence the energy and spirit in this house. And I am responsible for the tone that I set when I'm short and abrupt. The deep sighs of exasperation when someone speaks, not allowing my children the respect to finish their sentence, dismissing what they have to say because they're kids -- all of that, it's got to stop.
Children need us, and they need us without ever knowing they do. Parents are a significant influence in the temperament of the home, and that is the part that we forget. When we sell our roles short, and lose the awareness of the impact of our presence, we convince ourselves that we are a p.s. to their lives. We matter, and when we live together, we need to help each other.
We err, we fall short. I did it today. But I have the chance to start again. And when I screw up tomorrow, I can keep trying something different.
I will never be perfect, and don't strive for that. But I can adjust my heart to become the kind of parent who weaves a crown from their heart. A ring made of tender resilient stems that weathers days that at times threaten to unravel but holds together plaited with gentle words of patience, hope, and determination to bloom in beauty for my children.
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