Have you ever fought with your child about what to wear or what not to wear?
As a parent, most of us have at some point, or another looked at our kids and said, “You’re not walking out the house with me in that!” Whether you have a teenager, adolescent or toddler, you’ve been there.
This happened to me recently with my toddler. Now, I have this ‘strange’ expectation that when we leave the house, my children should be appropriately dressed for whatever the weather may be. For example, if it’s cold outside, they should bundle up, and if it’s hot outside, they should wear shorts and a t-shirt. Silly of me, I know. Well, apparently my two years old thinks so.
A few months ago, during winter, my two year old refused to wear anything but pajamas out the house. And, not just any pajamas, they had to be the shorts with the mismatched top. If you are a slightly OCD mom like me, you already know how this could just ruin your entire mood! For a whole two and a half months everywhere we went my toddler was wearing short sleeve shirts, shorts, and no jacket. Trying to put on a jacket added to the morning an unholy tantrum that I just didn’t have the energy or time for.
Now, you may be laughing at this, but I, on the other hand, was cringing! My mornings consisted of raising my voice, threatening everyone that came in my view, and feeling frustrated by this little guys selection of clothing. I took it out on everyone. I secretly knew that every single person we came in contact with was judging me because my child looked like a hot mess. They had no idea that for me to have a decent morning, I had to pick my battles, and some days, I just wasn’t willing to fight them. That doesn’t matter to observers usually. Now, luckily we live in the south, so our winters are pretty mild, but still, it was winter, so I was certain that some people wondered why my child was wearing shorts and no jacket.
Well, about a month into this whole ordeal, I realized something. I had allowed myself to become completely stressed out and caused the entire atmosphere of my home to be toxic for two and a half months over something as simple as pajamas! But the bigger truth was that I felt I had to appear like I had it all together, even if I didn’t. The secret was out, the cat was out of the bag, and I thank God for His grace in this one.
Do you ever feel this way as a wife or a mother? We know what we want to happen in our homes. We know how we want our kids to look, house to smell and husband to feel but we just don’t make the mark. We know the type of atmosphere we want our home and marriage to have, but for whatever reason, it does not happen. We get tired and frustrated, and the results are yelling, threatening, and feelings that maybe we’re just not cut out to be mothers, stepmothers, adopted mother and wives. We retreat to comparing ourselves to others, sulking in the feeling of disappointment and if all else fails, we bring out the chocolate.
I know because I have been there. I found myself feeling completely defeated in my roles as wife and mother. Day after day I was not satisfied with the condition of my heart and my home. Yet, one day, God gently showed me how the atmosphere of my heart and home had less to do with my husband and children and everything to do with how I was choosing to interact and respond to them.
“A gentle answer deflects anger, but hard words make tempers flare.” (Proverbs 15:1)
I know what you may be thinking.
“Jennifer, you have NO idea what I have to put up with.”
You’re right, I don’t, but God does! Not only does He know the details, He knows in advance how you are going to respond to the people in your life whom He has entrusted you to love, honor, and respect. Furthermore, He has given you an entire book full of wisdom and guidance on how you should respond and ways to get your heart and home back in balance.
As I learned that my perceptions, expectations, and judgments impacted how I acted and reacted, a lot of what was making me frustrated and causing me to act out in anger seemed unimportant. I recognized the unrealistic expectations I had placed on myself and my family and asked God for grace in those areas. Grace, honor, and respect became a part of WHO I was, not just WHAT I did. I learned that if I reacted in anger and frustration, my children adopted that same behavior.
Ladies, I am still a work in progress. I still struggle to embrace things like the mismatching of pajamas. But I have learned to embrace God’s grace when I fall short because He freely gives it to us so that we can freely give it to others. So, Mom’s I encourage you to relax, enjoy the craziness that comes with being a wife and mother, and freely receive and give the beautiful gift of grace on this journey.