So I have pretty much determined that there is no good in me. No wisdom. Nothing to offer in and of myself. That God decides to use me is amazing to me. Sadly, as a younger woman I wouldn't have thought that. I would have thought, "I have A LOT to offer" (well, at least something to offer.) Maybe I would have thought I could offer advice on child rearing, homeschooling, house keeping or being a wife. I mean, come on, I am good at those things, right? Well, I am okay at those things...most of the time, right? But as I have gotten older...I see the wisdom in keeping my mouth shut. :) Because just when I open my mouth to be "wise" not long after...I stumble and stick my foot right in it! Then, I clam up and resolve I shall NEVER offer advice or wisdom again. In fact, I shall never offer anything of myself EVER again with the fearful thought that I might hurt someone or offend with my words. Abstinence seems safest right? So God got me alone on this point...still is in fact. I don't have anything to offer...but He does have something to offer...through me. And sometimes I am sinful if I am quiet and withdrawn. Frankly though, I'd rather err on the side of being quiet. I want God to make me a meek and gentle woman...no small order I might add.
SO...when a friend asked me to offer her some mentoring...I felt humbled, blessed, honored, a little sick to my stomach...but you get the point. I don't know a lot but so far I have been married nearly 17 years, have been a mom for 13 and have six sons to prove it! I know a little something...but mostly I know God has been with me through it and has stripped me bare at times of any "good" I might have possessed. Nothing has made me uglier than being a mom...and no, I don't mean physically, though my jiggly belly begs to differ. :) Anyway, after she and I talked yesterday I got to thinking and re-thinking things she and I discussed. And at first when she asked me things I swear all I could say was, "Yeah, I felt that way..sometimes still do." I even told her at one point that I'd have to answer her question when MY mentor got back to ME because I STILL don't know the answer! You see, I have not arrived. I am still a box of puzzle (or puzzled) pieces waiting to fall into place. But upon rethinking some things I thought, "You know, I DO have some ideas for that problem..." So, this blog entry is borne from that. I figured if she found something helpful..someone else might too.
DISCIPLINE: Oh how I dread that word. It stands for everything I should be and everything I should be training my kids to be. But a lot of times, it gets all mixed up with how I love them and how I want to extend them grace and a second chance. See, no one can ever tell you back when you are that judgemental non-owner of a child how LOVE screws up all the neat little control issues you have. "I'll NEVER let my child act like that in public." Well, they don't know that you as a parent see that child's heart and you know how they have been sick, or needing a nap, or how you know they aren't being disobedient but rather they are being two...or however old they are. Or maybe they ARE being disobedient but rather than spank the tar out of them right there...you'll address it privately. "I'd NEVER let my child dress like that." Well, little do they know how you spared yourself a battle because your little darling wanted to wear his cowboy boots and shorts and fire hat to the mall. Who cares, he is dressed and happy, right? Or maybe he learned to dress himself and you're just so derned proud you don't even care his shirt is on backwards and his black pants don't match his blue shirt. There is just so much more to discipline than spanking or timeouts. And unfortunately, tired moms fail to deliver consistent discipline when they ought to. But, I'd bet that every mom gets confronted with the consequences of this and shores up her resolve and gets back at it eventually. I do believe there is the nugget of advice...be consistent but extend grace when you can. See their heart. See the fatigue, the frustration, the help they need when they are acting out. Address that first. DISTRACT them whenever possible. If you know that leaving a fun play date is hard....give several warnings the time is approaching to leave. Plan an incentive...like a treat that will be given in the car. And if all else fails, drag that poor little screaming child out of there to the restroom or the car and assert some physical pain in the appropriate place. But...I am all for distracting or averting the trouble to begin with. I know that strict disciplinarians would disagree but...I am not one of those. Sorry. I SO want to be one of those a lot of days...but alas...it doesn't appear to be happening. Nonetheless, I have pretty obedient boys if I say so myself. Yes, they throw fits and yell NO. But overall, they obey. I am good with that. And I have the benefit of having older boys who are showing me that the lessons Keith and I are teaching are getting through. Praise God for measurable results along the way.
HOUSEKEEPING: People think I am a neat freak or a perfectionist when they see my house. Nope I am not. I won't let you label me that. Yes, my house is clean most any time. My brain just functions that way. I cannot operate well in a mess. My brain thinks efficiently. I have learned that not everyone else's does. When I was a server at a retirement home in high school I was a GREAT server (humility, I know). I wrote up tickets neatly and I was able to serve people very quickly and orderly. I see that same quality in me now. An example? As I walk towards the stairs to go upstairs, I scan the area for anything that needs to go up. I might have a basket of laundry in my hands and as I go I throw Legos and toys into it that go upstairs. Or visa versa...when I am upstairs I throw down shoes and laundry and toys that belong down there. I organize my areas. My laundry room has shelves for the shoes. Therefore, the shoes go on the shelf! We have hooks for bags and jackets. I have a school cabinet with a lock on it. This keeps my little boys out of my supplies. When I do laundry (which is every day) I fold it on my bed and my boys come get their pile and put it away. Grant can fold laundry, especially towels but I am not ready to hand him the chore of laundry entirely...probably never will. I will train him to do his own but the day I hand my sons mine or Keith's clothes to wash..I will probably be bed ridden. The boys unload the dishwasher (including the two year old who loves to empty the silverware), they take out the trash (including the two year old who loves to dump trash and drag bags outside), they clean their own rooms, they clean other people's rooms (like dusting and vacuuming Keith's and my room), they vacuum, dust, do windows, clean the cars, help their dad with projects, and they can spot clean the bathrooms. Which is also a helpful tip. Buy Clorox or Lysol wipes. Have them above the commode or in a cabinet. In between deep cleanings (once a week usually for me) the boys or I wipe the counter first and then the commode and around it ( I have boys you know...they pee a little off center sometimes!) This keeps the bathrooms looking and smelling clean for a lot longer than without it. It is a great help when people drop by to send a kid in to quickly wipe up. My boys do yard work and other things as needed. Right now Grant is steam cleaning the floors and Garrett is vacuuming. But, here is the thing about me...I have older kids. When my boys were little I did most of it myself. And here is another thing...I STILL do a lot of it myself. I do not always have my boys do it. I ENJOY housekeeping. I am quick and efficient and usually don't mind it. But, when I ask- my boys jump to. They don't argue or complain....usually. They know their jobs and they do them. My big boys keep a clean bedroom. I will pick up laundry...I don't mind that mostly. Sometimes I ask them to do it. They should do it...I just don't always make them. The little boys' room is a big disaster of toys most of the time. I like it that way...that means they are being playful and imaginative. If the Legos are spread about and Hot Wheels are lined up and dart guns are everywhere...they have been enjoying each other. I will post a pic of what it looks like most of the time. And then the next pic shows what it looks like clean. Here is the thing: my boys can clean their own messes because I have Rubbermaid containers labeled with what goes in there. I have three-drawer carts labeled and I have shelves organized in a way they can follow. While I may not make them always put it all away, I know that when I finally want it clean, they can do it well. And occasionally, I DO IT! Yep, while they play I clean it up. This helps me know if the containers are still properly organized. Sometimes they get lazy and put Legos in with Hot Wheels or whatever and I can sort them back out. If I do that periodically then it stays organized. The old adage, "A place for everything and everything in its place" is the truth! If there is no place for something...it will never get put away. SO, to sum that up...I'd say that my boys are good workers but I don't always make them do it all. I see the home as my job. They are learning to work and this is their home too so they should help. But I do not ask my boys to do my work. If I had daughters I'd train them to work with me more. They need to be skilled that way....sorry, I am old fashioned in my roles. Daughters should fix dinner and do laundry and keep house as much as they are able. Sons should mow lawns and make repairs with dad and take out the trash, etc. I make my boy do domestic things because they should know how and because I need their help...but you won't find me sitting on my chair while they do my work. I want them to see me modeling what a wife and mother does. I want to do it well to the glory of God and to the glory of Keith.
Well, that is enough. That is MORE than enough. Sorry. It just came spilling out. Maybe more will come to mind to share later. I am not sharing this because you all need this. I am sharing this in case you need it. Take what applies and pitch the rest! Love to you! M.
(I think I will make the pictures a separate post because it frustrates me to figure this all out.)