My seven-and-a-half year old sat near me as I typed quietly yesterday. His Hot Wheels were performing gravity-defying stunts; he rather violently hummed the Cars 2 theme song, replete with adrenaline-loaded sound effects, of course–over and over. And over. I almost quietly asked him to please desist. But then–I realized my Hot-Wheels-overlaid-with-Cars-2-soundtrack days are kind of winding down. (Sniff.)
Keep hummin’, buddy.
I guess you could say that because of my story, which I shared last week–I’m pretty passionate about giving insecurity the boot. Maybe it’s much more so in parenting because I watch how my kids Xerox my values.
And I know how much it’s robbed from me.
I told you how insecurity—for far too long—was a giant, life-sucking Hoover in my marriage. It was as if I’d wrapped a leash around my neck, panting to be led by someone’s opinions. …Even complete strangers.
If you’re asking, “What’s the big deal about a little insecurity?”–maybe I can only tell you what I’ve seen it control.
I’m guest-posting today on my friend Kristen’s site, weareTHATfamily.com. Hope it encourages you parents swimming upstream today!
Missed the first post in this new series? Catch it here.
If you’re like me, you might just be fascinated by the idea of this post because it’s hard to think of your kids meditating on anything than, say, Minecraft.
Meditation’s for quiet families, right? Maybe those who, say, needlepoint together. Not the kind of boys like mine, who I have to remind to remove all Nerf weapons from the dinner table.
Still: Even a rowdy crew like mine needs to cultivate quiet; to create space to chew on God’s Word. And that’s really meditation in a nutshell for me. (We’ll tackle solitude in a later post).
Missed Part I? First, grab it here.
When you felt like you were finally surfacing from burnout–or as I called it, tired-mad, I might tell you what I found out. That sometimes burnout is simply burnout, because life is hard. And even though God never gives us more than He’ll give us strength to handle (He says so here and here), it still can feel like a rightful scraping-the-bottom-of-the-barrel, ta-da-I-survived type thing. (Whether it’s godly or not to be burned out is another post for another time, perhaps. But pretending it’s not there doesn’t really help.)
Questions that may help as you process burnout
- How have my responsibilities challenged me? How have they changed me?
- What activities “give me life” after I’ve helped someone?
- Who do I feel comfortable debriefing with?
- What questions do I find myself asking—and what lies am I tempted to believe (“I’m the only one who can help.” “I can’t afford to rest.” “Jesus wouldn’t say no here”)—when I am burdened by helping someone?
- In what Scriptures do I find hope and comfort when I am helping someone? (I like Isaiah 55:1-3.)
- (One of my favorites:) What would a compassionate friend say to me about this? (I often afford more compassion to others than I do to myself.)
- What sense of purpose and meaning do I find in my work? What do I love about what I do?
- What do I do when I am not handling stress well? What does the “stressed” version of me look like?
- What methods, people, and practices have helped me in the past?
- What do I think God thinks about my work?
- What questions do I have for God because of my work?
I glimpsed it in the slight tightness, the fatigued determination of her face that day: that distinct weariness that comes from herding toddlers and preschoolers 24/7. Having worn that particular look for approximately eight years myself, I know it well.
And though there are few exhaustions like young-mom exhaustion—I felt my own version of tired-mad that week. (Um. My family may have felt it, too.) One of my favorite takeaways from the movie Home were those hybrid-emotions, like sad-mad. Anger is a secondary emotion anyway, right? We feel angry usually because we were first hurt; afraid; grieved. Depleted, taken for granted; so very tired. So I have to plunge my fingers into my anger, exploring a bit.
Okay, moms: Who’s the best mom you know? And what makes her, y’know, stellar?
I wonder what the highest standard for motherhood is in your group of friends. Is it clear where you should be sending your kids to school, or what educational concepts they should have mastered? Whether you should vaccinate? Whether you use essential oils or antibiotics? Which programs your kids are enrolled in, how your daughter’s room is decorated, or what cute ideas you found on Pinterest for her birthday party?
I’ve only been back in the States for a month, so maybe I’m picking up on the wrong vibes. But—I am picking up on some significant pressure that we both give and receive from each other as mommas. Maybe you’re insecure like I was as a young mom, and sometimes still am. So much is imploding in front of you, despite your utter exhaustion. I admit to a wee bit of wicked consolation when another friend has a pile of dirty dishes that’s kind of erupted all over the rest of the kitchen, or when her kid also has a head-turning meltdown in the housewares aisle.
I was fascinated—no, dismayed—recently by a manners advice columnist in a popular magazine. The columnist ruminated,
The question is: When should kids be inducted into the White Lie society that they will inevitably join?…The white lie, used judiciously and with compassion, can be a form of social grace.
Let me shoot you straight. Perhaps this is a defiant little foot-stomp of mine against a cultural phobia of Making People Feel Bad. I see it in myself, profoundly—that I often care more about people feeling bad and liking me than I do about gently speaking truth, or protecting them. Obviously this does not justify abrasiveness (it’s way too easy to use “telling the truth” to justify obliviously steamrolling a neighbor). I firmly believe it’s not full truth unless it’s expressed with love.
But why not create a culture of truth in our families? Is it really grace if we’re not honest?
My husband and I have determined that our entire nuclear family struggles with self-control—so I post this week not from a place of mastery. I’m just writing from a family that is intentionally seeking strategies together so our reactions to emotions give love and life—rather than, you know, giving a wrecking ball. Make sure to offer your own ideas in the comments section!
Missed Part I? Get it here.
5. Absolutely do NOT give in to manipulation, angry demands, or whining. Help them get to the core of what they want, and ask respectfully. It’s Psych 101: Giving in reinforces that their bad behavior works, like giving a bad dog a biscuit. Whining or disrespect means an immediate “no” to any request in our house, no matter how much I want to give what they’re asking for. Instead, I simply tell my kids they need to ask for what they want. Continue reading
My husband and I have determined that our entire nuclear family struggles with self-control—so I post today not from a place of mastery. I’m just writing from a family that is intentionally seeking strategies together so our reactions to emotions give love and life—rather than, you know, giving a wrecking ball. Make sure to offer your own ideas in the comments section!
Say you’re walking down the street as a family. There on the sidewalk, an argument erupts at full volume between a couple you don’t know. She’s spewing vile obscenities and venemous accusations; he shoves and vehemently threatens her. Someone they know comes out to successfully intervene, but your kids’ wide eyes are brimming with questions. Do you
a. Cover your kids’ eyes with your free hands, and shoot the couple the evil eye as you stalk off. (Some people…! Get your act together, folks.)
b. Smile at the couple. Act like nothing happened.
c. Wait till you’re out of earshot, then mumble, “WHOA. What a jerk. And what a witch! How does he live with her?! If I ever see you kids acting like that…”
Kids present or not, we joust with these situations daily, right? That teenager mouthing off to his mom in Target; the friend who gossips at our dinner table; the colorful language on prime time.
I’m guessing I’m not the only one wrestling with what values look like in light of compassion and mercy. Lately, we’re encouraged more to keep our own “version” of truth and values to ourselves: Your values are okay as long as they don’t interfere with mine.
But (work with me here) I actually see rich possibility in choosing to discern right from wrong. On my grace-filled days, running into someone else’s wrong is a chance to remember how much I’ve been (continue to be!) forgiven. How much the very air I breathe is grace. It’s a chance to play out all over again what God does for me.
You know the people who exude this, I think. They’re the people who make you feel…at home, I guess. Like you can take your shoes off and process life, even if you’re just meeting them on the street. They make you want to slide down your inner masks and examine what’s really going on under there.