Wednesday, November 14, 2012

It's All About Love

Even though I know better, sometimes I feel like such a failure as a mother. It usually happens when I'm experiencing those overwhelming, flustered moments when nothing seems to be going as it should on a regular basis. It's so easy to look around and find all that is not in place, all that is cluttered and dirty, all that hasn't had the proper attention for a while. On the other hand, it's not so easy to see the magic happening all around me--the things that are getting done, the behavior that is kind and appropriate, the spaces that are neat and orderly. Why is that so?

This morning before my children left for school, I was determined to be negative, even though that little voice inside my head told me to focus on the positive before I ever even got out of bed. It's just that sometimes I don't feel like flattering my children with praise over finally picking up a dirty sock they left out three days ago when everything else they are supposed to do in the mornings is getting left undone. So, I marched throughout the house, throwing my hands up in the air over everything I saw wrong, nagging my children about their lack of responsibility, until I couldn't even stand myself. That's when this wise, patient, loving mother--the one I think is always there deep inside of me--told me to stop. I mean, did I really want my children going to school today with my negative voice ringing in their ears? No.

So, I took a breath, then I took Regyn's shoulders in my arms, and I looked into her blue sparkly eyes for a moment and told her sincerely that I loved her and I hoped that was what she would remember today. I immediately felt ashamed for all my brow beating about chores not getting done and time getting wasted, especially since I have been the Queen of Irresponsibility myself lately.

As I walked around the corner, Nate wrapped his arms around me. I must admit, I didn't feel like hugging him--not because I was angry with him--but because I was so disgusted with myself, I didn't feel I deserved his affection at that moment. But I finally gave in; I mean, how could I NOT give in to a hug from my 10-year-old son, the one who had just told me the day before that kisses from his mother were no longer something he wanted or needed (I pulled out the Power Of Moms book on that one and immediately read to him how important kisses and hugs really were to brain development. "You want to be smart, right? OK then, kisses and hugs will still be a part of your daily regimen"). I wrapped my arms around him as tightly as I could, kissed his cheek over and over and told him how much I loved him. Man, it felt good! So much better than the nagging and fits of frustration.

Boston ran into my arms like he does every time either he or I leaves the house and gave me a squeeze and kiss--that boy was sent to bring me love, I tell you, and I'm so thankful. I wished them all a wonderful day and then I closed the door and sighed. Nothing had changed really. No matter how amazing displays of affection are and how good they make you feel in the moment, they don't magically clean floors or bathrooms or make the pressure of everyday life disappear.

That's when I remembered something I've always known but tend to forget sometimes. Life is good. It's not perfect, but it's good. I told my children recently, "Grateful people are happy people," and I was right. I have so much to be grateful for, so how can I be unhappy? At the top of it all is that I have five children to love. And I have a husband who not only puts up with me, but truly loves me. And that's just it--the key to everything--LOVE.

I have been reading this book published by the Power of Moms called 12 Key Powers of Peace, Purpose, Order and Joy (It's soooo good, btw--I totally recommend it), and just the other day I read this section about love. One paragraph stood out to me. It's written by a mother of four children:

With four small children it's easy for me to focus on getting things done rather than on loving. Love is not "productive." I can't check "loving" off my to-do list. Because love is process-driven and impossible to measure, loving doesn't even make it onto my list. 

So good, right? So true. Then it continues . . .

At it's core, mothering is motivated by love. By recognizing love as the explicit motivator behind what we do, everyday, mundane tasks suddenly become meaningful. There are whole seasons of my life as a mom where I've forgotten this and have lived as if motherhood were about getting laundry done, or putting healthy meals on the table, or having a clean house, or making sure the kids are in the right schools. Sure all these things are important, but only if they are rooted in love, and only if my family feels loved as I do them.

Butabing! Butaboom! There it is. My reason for failing, or at least feeling like I'm failing, lately. My motivations have not been rooted in love, only in selfishness. I have not been trying to teach my children responsibility out of the deep love I hold for them in my heart; I've been doing it because I need help. That's not always a bad thing, but if the love isn't present, all methods become ineffective. Hence my frustration. I'm so, so thankful for that little word--love--and the miracles it produces. I truly feel it is the key--my key--as a mother to lead my children.

And so, I got to work. I cleaned, went to get favorite cupcakes at the bakery and rent a feel-good Christmas movie, and I'm waiting for my kids to come in the door so I can shower them with my time, my attention, my sincere praise for all they are doing good, and most importantly, my love. Because truly my love for them stretches wide and runs deep and they need to know that--always.

I truly believe if I can work through my feelings of overwhelming frustration and focus instead on gratitude and love, I can realize and appreciate life again, and hopefully even feel like I am succeeding as a mother, rather than failing.

It's all about love.

And who easier to love than these children of mine?


Casey and Tami Parry Family said...

Love your posts they always
help me put things back into perspective.

Taffy and Tony said...

I sure needed that today. Thanks!