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Listening to the Littlest

The other night I was in the bathroom and I flipped through a book that I bought at the local GoodWill....because you know that is the only place I get to read, right?
(*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)

If littlest ones could know
what only years can teach.

If littlest ones could tell
just how they feel....

Maybe,.....they would talk
like this.....

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 they find out I am right, we discuss the matter honoring each others' feelings and concerns.

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......
Good Night, Mother

......it's o.k.
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. :)


2Thinks said...

Many times I have had to go back to my chldren and tell them I am sorry. Or say that I was wrong about something and dad was right. :) It is the best model though, instead of being too proud to apologize or admit wrongdoing. The kids around my house learned quick that the adults didn't always have it all together, but I think that's good.

My kids are adults now. They are compassionate and forgiving and accepting of all- more than I am! I learn from them now.

About the bathroom basket. I've always had mixed feelings about those. I can't help thinking about what is happening in the bathroom and then touching the books -probably not after washing hands...well...you know. Just sayin' But I have that bulging bag of phobias that I haul around with me everywhere I go, so...not good.

~*Michelle*~ said...

HA! Too funny about the books and germs....never really thought about it that way.

If it makes you feel any better....I do my reading while on the toilet, so the books are only exposed to the same germs that would have been there (on my hands) if the book was on the coffee table. And I promise I wash my hands after I am done! :D

Oh, and I close the lid before I flush....I watched some documentary about how all those particles fly like 10 feet on your toothbrushes and stuff when swirling down the toilet drain. ick!

Andrea said...


I love getting books at Good Will.

Praying things will become more peaceful for you.

Blessings, andrea

Daveda said...

Oh boy! I cannot count the times I have had to apologize to my children!

I just wanted to say thanks for being so "real" I love the fact that you do not pretend to have it "all together"

This is the kind of truth we all need. It makes us feel like we really are all one, on a journey. Instead of on a journey in a competition for who's getting it the rightest (LOL, I know that's not a word...why didn't spell check underline it in red...is it a word?!)

~*Michelle*~ said...

@ Andrea! Thanks! Not sure I would even be accustomed to peace in the noise level dept. Funny, I complain about the chaos, but feel lost when it's so calm/quiet. LOL

@ Daveda

Thank the Lord that I am not in any competition....because I know there are times that I would be in the dead last position! And I am pretty sure "rightest" is in the same dictionary that I use that has "dealio"

Heart2Heart said...


Please stop by my blog this morning to pick up your very special award.

Love and Hugs ~ Kat

Deborah Ann said...

Great post, Michelle! I struggle with the same things. My son Aaron was so great when he was little and I would yell when I didn't need to. Later I would apologize and he'd say "that's okay." He just took it with a grain of salt.

Loren said...

Just wanted to say hello! It seems everywhere I go lately I see this beautiful butterfly and your aweet comments as well! I am a follower now and look forward to knowing you. I came via Kat @ Heart2heart today!

oh ya, totally have a bathrom basket myself :)

blessings to you!

Shark Bait said...

Oh wow!
That was lovely.

I will have to add that one to my book wish list. (Second in length only to the list of books under my bed to be read.)


Mimmy said...

Michelle - This post so reminded me of many days I have had to apologize to my children and the many days they have forgiven me. Isn't it glorious that out of all of this chaos God can grow wonderful children who believe in him and know of his grace and love.

Thank you for sharing.
God Bless,

RCUBEs said...

Just popping over to say hi and thank you for your encouraging comments. Looking forward to visiting here again. God bless you.

Bina said...

I just hopped over from Getting Down with Jesus...and fell in love with your blog instantly...can you guess why?? Ha ha - I love the fact that someone else out there loves the "..." as much as I do!

The poem made me misty-eyed...and made me laugh in spite of having not a SINGLE Mother of the Year awards on my mantle!

Thanks for sharing...blessings to you today!

Mich said...

Love the poem...reminds me of the time when my daughter looked at me, after I had told her sorry for blowing up and losing it, and said, "Mom, it is alright. I like how you say you are sorry and admit it when you are in the wrong. You are setting an example even when you are being bad." :)

Billy Coffey said...

Michelle, I love hanging out at your blog. You're so honest and open with everything, and you give us all of you warts and all. That's just awesome. Just like this post, and just like you.

Nancy@ifevolutionworks.com said...

First off, I had to laugh that you put the lid down so you could read in peace.

Being a parent is tough. I know I always question how I handle things in fear that my son will end up on some doctors couch talking about how I wounded him some how.

I love that poem..it's great!

Denise said...

Thank you for always being real sweetie.

momstheword said...

Oh Michelle, you truly nailed it on the head, I think. We have all been there, you know.

I remember when the kids were about four and eight I soooo struggled with my temper (and maybe hormones too, lol!).

I also had some "stellar" moments as they got older too.

It's important to ask for their forgiveness and to set that example for them.

But it's also so important to forgive ourselves. The Lord forgives us, so what right have we to keep beating ourselves up over it. He doesn't! Love you, my friend!

Alicia, The Snowflake said...

I'm so glad to know I'm not the only imperfect mother. I lost it again today. How does that happen? It seems the harder I try sometimes, the worse I behave. KWIM? But thank you for the wonderful reminder of God's forgiveness.

The book sounds great. Can't wait for that give away ;) Take care my friend!

christy rose said...

Michelle, You always make us all feel so at ease here. Your honesty and candidness brings comfort to me. There is no way that anyone can be the perfect parent. And, pretending to be, will just make you farther from it than if you just admit where we fail and ask God to extend His mercy and grace to us to take on the privilege of this parenting thing that we have begun. But, my most favorite thing that you revealed in this post for me was this quote, "Forgiving and forgetting are easy
when I know that I am loved!" Let's us know that when we have a hard time forgiving it is because the revelation of God's love for us is too shallow and I looking for the one who has hurt me to make up the difference. what a revelation to me anyway. Thanks for posting this. I love reading what you learn from the Lord in your life.

amanda said...

i love the post. and feel free to leave the book in the bathroom for me to glance at when i visit. as long as it's the bathroom with a door on it. ;0) one week!! and i'm also glad to know you wash after going...

Alicia said...

Oh my gosh Michelle...everytime I come here, you write something that totally speaks to me!!!!!!!!!!

Especially about the homeschooling part, and for being laid back...etc.You just described us to a T!!! I've been more disciplined this year, and I know that there are times my older ones are like, "Okay, mom, calm down!"

Loved this post, and I'm going to search for the book too!!!!

Love ya!

Theta Mom said...

I laughed when you said you keep the book in there because you actually have peace and quiet time in the bathroom! LOL Totally can relate and it sounds like an awesome book, one that I would refer to for some inner peace because I also have those moments when my kids need to hear me say "I'm sorry" for the mistakes that I make.

The girl with the flour in her hair said...

Thanks for stopping by and commenting and following!

I loved this post. How true is that poem!? My goodness. It's nice to know that we're all bad mommies together! :)

Anonymous said...

I'm still amazed you got time to ourself in the loo...My littlest always wants to be in there with me....sigh!
I hope our PM's haven't added to your emotional overload this past week or so. I'm feeling a little guilty...
I too have the moments when I just want to stop and shut out all the mayhem and just think of me for five seconds...rarely get that 5 seconds...I understand how you feel. Sometimes I just want to curl up and cry or run screaming into oncoming traffic....but thankfully those times pass and I learn from them.
Sounds like you could all do with a little camping trip to get back to nature and family and togetherness....hmmm?
Thanks for the link on FB, now I know when you have something blogworthy to share ;).

love n hugs from Aus

wife.mom.nurse said...

I love your writing. I love your transparency...how real you are in your blog.

Parenting is one humbling experience and you expressed it perfectly here.

Beth in NC said...

I can relate! I think we've all been there Michelle. I feel like I fail my daughter so many times. Why couldn't I have said that nicer or not used sarcasm.

Children are so forgiving and I do apologize when I think I've hurt my daughter's feelings. I have never heard "I'm sorry" from my parents. That generation never apologized. Ha.



Anonymous said...

Love to get my books at Goodwill too. I do not hesitate to apologize to my children. Sorry goes a long, long way in life when people really mean it.

Carol said...

I can not EVEN believe it!!! When I have a fight with my husband, I hear something or read something about marriages and forgiveness. Whe I am having trouble with a coworker, magically, something on that subject will be in the particular devotional I am reading, or what the subject of the radio announcer is....Tonight I was having some issues with my high school daughter. I opened up your blog and there it was. We always hug goodnight and say "love you". We didn't do that tonight. I read, "I felt your kiss", a daughter speaking to her mother. I know there will be a tomorrow, and I do know that in a couple of years, she will be gone. God, I pray for your patience and love between us and that there will be many more times to kiss and hug and say, "Night, love you".


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