Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Hear Me, See Me by Ashley Larkin, mom of three

I stood knee-deep in grime-filled clothes that smelled like a campfire while the girls played in their bedroom. We'd just returned from a camping trip, so while my husband and second-born finished unloading, I unpacked bags and started laundry.

Though my heart was happy, my body felt drained by the weekend of ground-sleeping, waking throughout the night, setting up and breaking down camp. Not to mention the everyday tasks of mothering that followed me into camp.

While camping, I was amazed to see what our kids could do — carry 60-pound jugs of water from a hand pump and clean the dishes with barely any help from grownups. Wow, who knew?
"The truth is that my words
and actions do matter. I matter."

Back at home, I asked the girls to stop playing and complete one simple task: put dirty "camping pillowcases" in the laundry and replace them with clean ones. It soon became clear that the girls were ignoring me or hadn't heard me. I strained to explain myself calmly, ending with, "Camping is fun, but it's also hard work. We need everybody to chip in."

Moments later, I turned from laundry piles to see my oldest lying on her bed, my youngest rolling on the floor, task undone. Tightness filled my throat while anger pushed through to a full force yell: Just do what I've asked! Do you see what I'm doing? Why do I have to yell for you to pay attention?

Almost instantly, I felt sick for losing my temper. Within minutes, I apologized, but not before recognizing my hurt and wrong beliefs: My words are unimportant. My efforts are unappreciated. I'm not worth paying attention to.
Though my approach was wrong, and I've got better tools in my mothering box, the truth is that my words and actions do matter. I matter. So I will continue to show my children not only the value of work, but also of self-control and, when needed, consequences.

God, please give me wisdom to instill responsibility in my children. Even when I mess up, thank you that you hear every word and see every task. I am grateful you are the God who sees. Amen.

Ashley writes about the beauty of living fully awake to everyday moments on her blog, Draw Near. She and her husband, Michael, are parents to three daughters, ages 10, 7 and 4, and live in Portland, Oregon.

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