Learning to Parent in Peace
I became a mother in 2011. It was a dreary, rainy evening. It was, by far, one of the most scariest moments in my life. I didn't know how to be a mother. Fast-forward seven years...I'm realizing that I still don't know everything about parenting. I am learning that as frustrated as I have been as a parent, that maintaining my peace and parenting in peace is my number 1 priority.
Parenting is the hardest, most under-appreciated, under-valued, under-compensated job on the earth. It's hard. It's dirty. It's painful. It's emotional. It's costly. It's exciting. It's beautiful. It's everything you could have never imagined and a lot of what you thought it would be. But, at the end of the day, it is a blessing, very rewarding and a once in a lifetime opportunity to sit in the sculptor's seat to create your best work of art. Then, you will fail.
Now that I brought you really low, you can hear me.
I was failing. I was tired. I was screaming all of the time. I was becoming burned and stressed out. I didn't like the kind of mom I was becoming. And I realized that I had to do something. One of my goals from my blog post about 19 Things to do to Become Your Best Self in the New Year was to pray more. This is where I knew I needed to start. My kids made me lean on God a bit more, in ways that I have never leaned on him before. I began to poured out my heart to God about my parenting failures, about screaming all the time and I was very honest with him. I let him know that I did not know how to parent the way he wanted me to. I needed his help to be a good steward over the two children he had blessed me with. God's response to me was, "Chill out!" My husband's advise..."Chill out!"
With my godly and "oh so" in depth instructions from God and my husband, I had to ask for more clarity because I didn't know how to "chill out." Clarity came in the form of a sermon from my pastor at The Town Church in Middletown, DE. (Not so shameless plug for my awesome church...if you don't have a church home, come visit us or watch us online.) Pastor Dan's message that Sunday spoke about getting rid of your expectations. This hit me hard. I sobbed for most of the sermon because I realized that I had placed unrealistic expectations on my daughter to perform a certain way. When she did not meet those expectations, that's when the screaming started...that's when my blood pressure would rise...that's when the anxiety set it. I was not peaceful. Bella was hurting and broken and I was losing it...slowly.
That day, I let go. I released those expectations. I no longer am pushing Bella to be a champion. I am coaching her to greatness. Let me tell you, the ride is much smoother. I'm no longer dragging the horse. I'm walking along side of her.
Another part to parenting in peace is to "stop and be present." You have to reflect on your daily activities and routines that keep you from just relaxing, spending time with your kids and being in the moment. My husband and I had Bella in every activity we could think of because we wanted to develop her and make her into a well-rounded kid. She enjoyed some of those activities and we allowed her to continue in the ones that she wanted to focus on. But this past year, I put an end to all of it. I felt the burn out from being a kid chauffeur. Being a "soccer mom" is super stressful. It was not fun for me. I was more in love with the idea of being able to say that my kid did this and did that and does that but I was suffering because it was not peaceful. I was a taskmaster. I shared this with my husband and he agreed that we needed to just stop and be present in our home. Whoosah! Man, did that take the load off of me and we cut down on expenses too! We talked about what we should make a priority in our home. We ended activities and engagements that did not fit our family and we put our home first to establish sound routines and to enjoy just the four of us.
And it's working. Peace has come to our home and to us.
Peaceful parenting is an oxymoron. There is nothing peaceful about parenting unless you make the conscious effort to be a peaceful mother or father. It will not come to you. You have to actively seek and participate in peace in order to reap the benefits of it in your parenting. I've learned a huge lesson because of my faults. You can't parent from the kitchen sink, washing dishes. You can't parent from the laundry room or from the couch. You can't parent on the go or always handling business on the phone. Parenting is an up close, relational kind of situation. You have to be there. It must have your full attention.
Establishing peace in your parenting is not so much about what your child does or how much your child is listening or following directions. Kids will always be and act like kids. It's about changing the way you manage your behavior and expectations and limits placed on your child's abilities. It's about what you make important in your life and home. You are the order in the home. You are are the leader. Little people will follow whatever example they see the most. You have have to change and they will follow.
So, what are you going change? Will you crush those expectations? Will you stop and reflect on what you hold as high priority? Will you actively listen to your children and be present with them? Will your babies become your number 1 ministry behind your spouse?
Parenting is worth it. Just learn to let go and chill out!
Be the Light and Spread Love