We’re on the tail end of spring break and man, it was a doozy this year!
Not because we didn’t have fun. We had some fun.
Not because the weather was cruddy and we were stuck inside. It was actually in the high 30s most days and the sun was shining. There was lots of outside playing.
It was hard because my kids are hard right now. They are in the hate part of their love-hate relationship. Eleanor was thrilled to have Finn all to herself all day long. Finally she had someone other than mom to play with her. But the reality is that a 7 year old boy is not as keen on playing dolls and veterinarian and Barbies. Nor does he want his 2 year old sister to touch his Legos and models and nerf guns.
So I spent a lot of my day refereeing. Redirecting. And, all right, yelling.
I’d yell at one to stay away from the other.
I’d yell at the one for yelling at the other.
I’d yell about toys all over the house and about complaining about chores and what was for dinner and having to take a bath.
I’d wake up in the morning and pray for a better day, for kind words and grace and maybe just a little bit of getting along. And by 9am, we’d spiraled out of control already and my prayer turned from “Help me” to “Why me?”
Why am I always yelling? Why do the toys scattered from one end to another give me such anxiety? Why do I feel like I need them to like everything I make and every activity I suggest and follow through like meek little lambs on their best behavior always?
The fact is…I don’t. I don’t need to yell about toys and food choices and clothing options. I don’t need to yell about touching each other or getting in each other’s space or wrestling with each other. I don’t need to yell to get my point across. I actually get better results when I whisper; when I stay calm in the midst of their chaos; they are little kids and they wear chaos like a badge of honor some days as they figure out the world around them and how they fit into that world. It’s my job right now to help them figure that world out – even if it means settling uncomfortably into the middle of their chaos and fighting and general daily dishevelment to guide them along.
I have to remind myself, when the urge to yell all but overpowers me, if I want my kids to show kindness and grace to each other and to others, they need to see it modeled from me first, even when it’s hard – especially when it’s hard. The reality is that looks like getting down on Eleanor’s level and helping her pick up the 24,000 Barbie shoes that got dumped on the floor instead of demanding that she just pick up her mess. It means that I need to show Finn how to sort the laundry and then leave him to it – just walk away from him and his chore; it will get done – maybe not to my 38 year old standards, but done is done and the laundry will wash the same even if there is a rogue towel in with the jeans.
I know that I am not always going to win this yelling battle. I know that there are going to be days that my nerves are frayed thin and I just need their undying cooperation to get accomplished whatever it is we need to get accomplished. I’m learning, though, that if most days I can deep breathe my way through the icky moments, if I can remind myself that offering grace to my frayed small humans will usually get me quicker cooperation, if I can get on their level and talk like a calm person – yelling will become the exception and not the rule.