I’ve been quiet. I’d say too quiet…but that is not true. I feel comfortable with how quiet I’ve been. It’s been intentional. I’ve been learning. Cultivating. Growing. Stretching.
Life with two littles is as full as it is fun. It’s as hard as it is beautiful.
I love being home with them. I love watching Summer learn and develop. I love watching Samuel grow.
But working from home, and mothering, and wife-ing, and housekeeping, and friend-ing…it’s a lot. Parts of my mind have felt overwhelmed and tired. All the while, my heart has sat in the tension of all these demands with a sense of contentment.
And that’s okay.
The air felt crisp and cool, typical for a Colorado summer morning. I sat down on the ground with Samuel and watched as Summer wandered the yard in her diaper. She danced around the grass and returned to me, ensuring that I was still watching her. She grabbed her watering can and wandered over to my pumpkin plant and watered it, peering over her little shoulder to be sure I saw her good deed.
Squeezing Samuel, I reflected on just how much life had come and gone since I wrote, “She will Water the Pumpkin.”
I remember with what apprehension I sat down to type out that simple entry. An entry that now feels light compared to the others…but, to me, sharing my parenting approach as such a young parent felt, well, vulnerable.
In fact, admittedly, this particular entry was originally entitled “part 1” and ended with a promise to follow-up with 10 ways to diffuse anger. After publishing it, I felt the self-consciousness that can accompany vulnerability, and quickly edited that entry, omitting such promises. Silly, I know.
As I watched Summer watering the pumpkin on that beautiful morning, I was carried back to this moment. The moment I edited that entry. I reflected on the feelings of vulnerability and self-doubt that followed publishing it.
I felt the gentle presence of God ushering me into a moment of reflection. What from that particular entry remains true? What has changed?
I continue to take note of my anger, and have committed myself to the ever-evolving process of cultivating peace, diffusing rage, and lovingly expressing frustration. For me, much of this continues to boil down to the management of my personal expectations.
I still parent with many of the same convictions I had then. There are far more “yes’s” in our home than there are “no’s.” We prioritize cultivating a safe and peaceful space: A home not void of anger, but one in which anger is expressed lovingly and appropriately.
We want our children to feel safe and steady around us, even when we are angry. We also want them to feel equipped to manage their own anger as they watch us express ours.
As I continued to expect the messiness of mothering, I developed the skill of coaching in the midst of cleaning. “It’s good to water plants that are still in the ground. Let’s practice watering the garden, rather than the decorations inside. I understand it’s confusing when we bring plants inside.” All of this, of course, in age appropriate language as she has grown.
And now, I am beginning to observe the results of this coaching – like in this moment, as I watched her tend our garden with her tiny hands. It feels good to watch your child blossom and walk out in the teachings you’ve given them.
What has changed in my thinking since November, 2016 when I first wrote this article?
Now I’m ever present to the fact that I’m making mistakes, even amidst my successes. It’s humbling to admit that not only have I failed and will I fail in the future…but I am failing in some way I cannot yet see.
I heard the Lord speak as I thought about this new way of thinking, and His words encouraged and strengthened my heart, “You’re aware the potential failure of your best attempts, and you love yourself and your children nonetheless. You trust Me with the mess that could surface from your imperfection. You’re surrendering yourself and the children to Me. And that’s beautiful.”
No matter how I parent, it can, and likely will, have some negative ramifications in my kids’ adulthood. Because I am human. I am broken. I am learning. And so is my husband. As they grow, we suspect some of our approaches will render them hurt.
My kids are human. And also broken. And they are learning, too. The chances of them wrongly interpreting our intentions, or us overlooking the deeper needs of their hearts, is high.
We are living out this glory-to-glory process together. We believe this will create plenty of opportunities for God to show up and love our children strongly in the areas where we fail. It’ll set up ample opportunities for us all to extend God’s grace to one another.
So, it seems the primary understanding I’ve come to since writing part one of “She will Water the Pumpkin,” is the inevitability of my mistakes. Not only the inevitability of these mistakes, but also the messy impact that my shortcomings may have in the lives of my children. I suppose this is part of being in process: trusting the Lord with the mess that may ensue and owning my part in it all.
The other thing I have learned since 2016? The power of vulnerability and how it empowers oneself as well as others to live wholeheartedly. Is it ironic that I’m just now discovering the work of Berne Brown? I encourage her book, The Gifts of Imperfection, to anyone wanting to lean more into this particular concept.
Ryan and I have agreed that if we save for two things in life it will be emergency room visits and therapy for our children. Because, no matter how hard I try or how many parenting books I read or podcasts I subscribe to, I mess up. A lot. I yell. I cry. I withdraw.
But, I’m pressing into this practice of surrendering in the midst of learning, and I’m hopeful that God will continue to transform me into His likeness, and “cover me from behind” as I walk out this parenting journey.
Here is a list of 10 ways that I have come to diffuse anger:
- Spontaneous dance parties
- Singing silly songs loudly
- Praying out loud
- Running in place
- Walking out of the room for 10 seconds + belly breathing
- Watching a funny youtube video
- Replace “don’t” with “let’s”
- Turn on spa music in the background
I’ve decided to start incorporating a little section “Summer says” in which I share something funny or heartfelt she says that relates to the topic on which I’m writing…
2 hours earlier I was rocking Samuel to sleep in his room and Summer busted in, loudly announcing herself and waking Samuel. I was angry. I used my foot to gently shove her out of the room and closed the door so I could get him to sleep.
Summer: Mama, you pussed me eawiew in Seweal’s woom and made me feel sad. [Mama, you pushed me earlier in Samuel’s room and made me feel sad]
Me: Oh man, I did didn’t I? Earlier in Samuel’s room I pushed you out of the room and that made you feel sad. I’m so sorry. Pushing is not nice, mommy feels sorry that she pushed you. Will you forgive me?
Summer: Oh mommy, you just wearning. I give you. [Oh mommy, you’re just learning I forgive you] (gave kisses and a hug and walked away)