(*my bathroom, not the GoodWill.....Man, I am an English/grammar teacher's nightmare with my run-on sentences and my complete destruction of all grammar rules)
Anyway....this small hardcover book is titled, Listening to the Littlest and it's a collection of thoughts/poems by Ruth Reardon. Not sure if it is a popular book and if everyone and their mother knows about it.....but it was a great new discovery for me. In fact, I looked it up on Amazon and I am still confused about the popularity of this book as it sells from .01 used to $48.99 new to some $30 collectible editions. All I know is the cover is different from the Amazon listing and I only paid 25 cents.
(*hey, maybe I'll find out this is some special one of a kind edition....uh, nevermind....remember this?)
Anyway, the inside cover had a message handwritten saying congratulations to a couple who I am assuming just had a baby. I flipped to the next page and I loved the preface (or whatever that is called)
what only years can teach.
If littlest ones could tell
just how they feel....
Maybe,.....they would talk
Maybe.....we would listen.....
You know I was hooked as soon as I saw the "......"!
anyway....I thought it would be a good book to keep in my bathroom basket.....because, well you know...like I said, that is the only time I actually have a moment of peace to read.
So I totally forgot about it until one night last week, it was late......I was fried from a long day and was getting ready to settle down. I was aggravated because someone used the last of the toilet paper and just tossed the roll on the floor.....not sure what made me more annoyed.....not replacing the roll, or throwing the empty one on the floor approximately six inches from the trash can.
So as I grumbled a few choice words and bent down to pick it up, that book caught my eye. I picked it up and put the lid down on the toilet.....I was officially giving myself 10 minutes of "Michelle time" even though I could hear what sounded like a scene from Braveheart coming from my living room. Did I mention I had a house full of teenagers over and they were playing X-Box Live?
The book contained short poems that gently reminded parents to slow down, allow little ones to "help" when they want and that saying "no" is OK. This kind of stuff is perfect for me as you know it's hard for me to get past a few pages of reading with my ADD and short attention span. These poems were awesome.....they delivered great messages in just a few short words.
I came across this one poem in particular that I absolutely loved.....I know God wanted me to read this as I have had some "not so Mother-of-the-Year" moments over the past few days. Yeah, I wasn't feeling so proud about how I acted with my kids lately. It seemed like all I have been doing was barking at my younger ones and constantly nitpicking battles with my two older ones. I can try to blame/chalk it up to being slightly hormonal, a little stressed from trying to get the refinancing in order (to help pay for the new roof we have).......or maybe just being a little burnt out from burning it at both ends, both physically and emotionally. I can......but I won't.
In fact, it doesn't matter why I was acting the way I was acting......the fact is, I did act that way.
Yes, my kids can be selfish, push my button and they are no angels. I won't play them up to be. I have two teenagers that can be self centered and demanding at times.......I have two younger children who sometimes purposely taunt the other to tears. Homeschooling doesn't always go as smooth as it could.....partly my fault for being unorganized and flustered.....partly their fault for taking advantage of a laid back learning environment and having their mom as their teacher.
But also.....I don't think that they should be the "punching bag" for the stress, burdens and just plain junk that I am carrying. I cannot change or control certain situations that I am dealing with, but I can control how I react to them. And to be honest....they are not anything different or worse that many of us are dealing with in this economy, world....and just life, yk?
So lately, I feel like we have had this whole negative blanket covering us and everyone is feeding off/reacting to the negativity. There is shouting and angry words. Words, that once they fly out of your mouth.....have been causing some damage. There is bitterness, hurt feelings, guilt and defensiveness.
Now after one of these verbal smackdowns, I will say that after a few hours of me holding a grudge, slamming a few cupboards and speaking only when spoke to......I want to apologize and revisit the issue in a more calm atmosphere. It feels unsettling to be distant from my kids emotionally. I never appreciated being on the receiving end of "because I said so, and I am the parent" growing up. I always try to let my kids know that their feelings and wants are important to me, even if I don't agree with them. I never want to belittle anything they are feeling or going through. I don't want to build up a wall with them as a parent, so they feel it is useless to come to me. So many teens feel like this these days.....and that can cause them to seek help/attention in the wrong places or from the wrong people.
We may not be Beaver Cleaver family, but we are held together with a strong bond (God being in the center) and being divided feels foreign/uneasy to us. So, although I feel I have valid concerns/issues that needed to be addressed.....I clearly handle it the wrong way and feel the need to apologize.
I also know that the cold shoulder and unforgiveness feels unsettling for them as well. So sometimes, after they barricade themselves in their bedrooms and have their music blaring for an hour or so, they come to me and want to apologize.
Either way, I am so thankful that most of the time....the apologies are accepted, forgiveness is granted and we can have a civilized discussion where
Totally Kkidding about the I am right strikeout/dealio.....I want them to know that yes, sometimes parents don't have their act all together and can make mistakes. This whole parenting thing is a learning experience and every day with every age/stage of raising children, we are faced with making decisions. There is no cookie cutter method. There is no instructional manual that one size fits all (except the Bible). Point is, we are human and completely competent to have some major screw-ups in our lives too.
OK, back to the poem......
You didn't win a prize for motherhood
today, but it's o.k.
You haven't ruined my development
by one bad day
I want a human mother, not a model one.
You sure were angry at the world!
I learned a few new words
(I won't repeat!)
Don't worry Mother~I felt your kiss
There's always a tomorrow~
Forgiving and forgetting are easy
when I know that I am loved!
That made me well up, I don't know about you.
I am going to be honest....It's a humbling experience when your children forgive you.
How like Jesus to teach such a powerful and valuable lesson through our children. God forgives us.....unconditionally. Even when we are not the "model" Christian/Believer. In fact.....there is no "model" perfect Christian. The only perfect One was Jesus. God knows we are not perfect, He created us!
He doesn't hold a grudge, His opinion of us is not changed. He loves us unconditionally. Even when I show up after a train wreck of wrong doings......I come to Him, my sins are tossed into the Sea of Forgetfulness and I am forgiven. Even when I act like a selfish, self absorbed teenager......thinking only about me and my needs, God still pours His endless Grace on me when I don't deserve it.
God, thank you so much for always meeting me with open arms. Thank you for your grace and forgiveness when I clearly do not deserve it. Thank you for keeping me number one on Your priority list, when some times I put myself at the top of my list. Thank you for wiping my slate clean so that I may have a tomorrow, a chance to make it right again with You and others.
Thank you for the reward and gift of forgiveness for others, as Matthew reminds us: "For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you." ~Matt. 6:14
And lastly.....thank you for blessing me with children who continue to teach me......and like You, forgive me when I screw up.
ps. If I can find another copy of this book, without paying $48.99.......I am def. going to include it in my one year blog-versary giveaway/celebration coming up soon. :)