The more children I've had I've discovered I'm a far better student and volleyball player than I am a mother. I prefer controlled environments..at least to practice in until I'm ready! Children don't exactly offer that! They don't wait to grow up while you figure things out.
For years I have tried to completely change my way of speaking with my children. Sometimes I yell and almost always it is because I am tired or hungry! I have tried all sorts of things...studied many different ideas. One of the most humbling was when I asked my children to say a prayer for me when I knew I was loosing it.
This past summer has been ... unexplainable. Chris' dad died, we moved, lived with his mother for a while, then moved again to Texas. The emotions and stress don't seem to be explained in those few words.
During this time a wonderful friend started a book group. We read Corrie Ten Boom and Ghandi and Mother Teresa...each inspiring me to turn to the scriptures again (which during this time of transition has been a challenge). It was Ghandi who made the most obvious impact. Despite all of my studying and pondering and prayer, I still thought yelling worked. Technically it does, in the short term. Children move when I am angry. I was wrong. Yelling doesn't work. it doesn't really do what I want it to do. It offers short term results but doesn't offer the environment for my children to truly change their hearts and want to do what is right.
For one thing violence is not specific! We are angry because we are hungry, tired, frustrated with all number of things...so when I get angry with my children how do they know what is behind my anger...Angry acts through history show this so clearly. We wonder and question why so and so did such horrible things...but Rosa Parks? No one wonders why she wouldn't leave her seat. Her meaning is PERFECTLY clear!
One poignant episode from Ghandi's life is so creative and masterful...yet so simple. He walked for 24 days, 12 miles a day. He dipped in the ocean and picked up a pinch of salt...he had just broken the law! It was a gainst the law at that time to acquire salt in any other way except through the huge British Salt company. His protest was so simple and clear-not a drop of confusion. Had he bombed a salt mine people could wonder if it was the owner of the mine, the location, the product, the country, perhaps he was hungry and tired...anger isn't specific enough to make a difference!
For whatever reason all of this reading and this summer has brought a dramatic change in my parenting. I'm still not getting the dishes done every single night -- our schedules still need some adjusting -- please don't ask about the laundry or much of anything else...instead for the first time I am basing my parenting on a truth...peace and love are the ONLY things that allow for the growth and change I want for my children.
My children are still completely human, as am I. Whiny voices, tantrums, and fighting occur...but I am now being an adult and learning to be a peacemaker.