As the Family Goes

JP II Quote

"As the family goes, so goes the nation, and so goes the whole world in which we live." John Paul II

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Return on Investment

I have a confession - I am one of those parents that, if you saw me on Supernanny you'd shake your head at me.  You'd go have coffee with your friends and say, "you wouldn't believe how frustrated she was getting with her's just so obvious that they're kids, and that's the way they act.  She needs to get a grip!"  I appreciate the kindness of those who say, "there there, it's understandable".  But just let me indulge my inner Dr. Phil and tell it like it is: I have a temper, and sometimes it's bad.  And the only people that see how bad it really is are my kids, and occasionally my husband.  

There are days when it is more of a trial than others, and today was one of those days.  I texted Jeff and asked for prayer, and in the middle of sending my message wrote something that was like an opening of my soul, and I didn't even realize it until after it came out.  This morning's gripe was with my almost three-year-old (which I have always found to be the most challenging age), and I wrote to Jeff, "It requires so much more of an investment of me into her, which is beautiful, and telling of where I am at now that I'm having such a hard time with it."  Kids are needy - especially little ones.  And the age between three and four years old can be particularly demanding, because it's the age when their little wills start to appear, and they are just learning that can exercise that will whenever and however they (not Mom or Dad) choose.  And while I can be reasonably sure that I can tell my older kids to do something and they will, or impose a consequence and they will listen without screaming and shouting, it's not the same for a preschooler.  They are learning about boundaries, specifically how to push them, and it takes a lot from me to be available and gently guide them through that process.

I can say thus far that my investment into Katie in this area (as, I am sad to say, has been the case for each of the other other boys) has been rather limited.  It's easy to invest yourself in the things that are pleasant with kids (reading, playing games, making crafts, watching movies) but it's a whole different story when the terrain is so rocky.  I always feel like I just don't have time, but then again, what mother does?  On the other hand, the results speak for themselves.  She is, by times, a screamy and frustrated little three-year-old.  And I don't pretend to think that if I just made more time for her she'd never do this.  However I do think that if I invested more time and energy in being patient with her, I could see her through these times of frustration with love, and maybe it would result in a little less screaming (on both of our parts).

I was very grateful the other day to stumble upon the prayer of St. Francis with the kids.  As a Catholic, I have been familiar with this prayer for a long time.  But this time, the words hit my heart with such profound meaning, that I knew it was the Lord calling me to step it up, and be a bearer of peace to those around me.  As the saying goes, you catch more flies with honey than vinegar, right?

Lord, help me to invest myself lovingly to my children, and to be an instrument of peace in their lives.  Deliver me from the desire to be understood by them: they are children, they don't know how taxing motherhood can be at times (nor should they).  Help me not to look to them for comfort when I feel spread so thin, but instead to look for opportunities to comfort and love them.  And in so doing, may I see the return of healthy, well-adjusted children, fully formed in the proper use of their wills for the glory of your kingdom.


Lord, make me a channel of thy peace
That where there is hatred, I may bring love
That where there is wrong, I may bring the spirit of forgiveness
That where there is discord, I may bring harmony
That where there is error, I may bring truth
That where there is doubt, I may bring faith
That where there is despair, I may bring hope
That where there are shadows, I may bring light
That where there is sadness, I may bring joy.
Lord, grant that I may seek rather to comfort than to be comforted
To understand, than to be understood
To love, than to be loved
For it is by self-forgetting that one finds
It is by forgiving that one is forgiven
It is by dying that one awakens to Eternal Life.
- St. Francis of Assisi

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