I have come to believe that the challenges (a.k.a. child-induced sufferings) that these little people present are actually a GIFT from God given to us to teach us about ourselves, and to form us into the best person we can be. In all of my efforts to teach my kids this or that, I find that they are the ones who are teaching me. Or, probably more accurately, God is teaching me through my children, little by little, everyday. I don't know what God was thinking when He entrusted me with raising these 3 children, but I am determined to do my best. Most days end with me thinking that I could have done so much more, so much better, and wondering if my kids are going to turn out okay despite all of my incompetencies and weaknesses. I realize that because I so badly want my kids to become good people, I am going to have to make some changes myself…"Be the change I want to see in the world." One night recently, I was talking to Cody about the kids and how I just couldn't understand why they wouldn't just make their beds in the morning. "I mean really, how hard is it to make a bed?" I said …as I climbed into my own UNMADE bed. Hello, ton of bricks! So, all week this week (granted it's only Wednesday) I have made my bed…and so have the boys. It made me wonder though, what else am I teaching them through my example? Am I teaching them to be respectful? Am I teaching them to be grateful? To be honest, giving, forgiving and kind? I don't know, but probably not as much as I like to think. I have decided to take a more proactive approach to parenting (that's a whole other topic) and not just wait for my kids to do something wrong so I can punish them. Instead, it is my goal to seek out teachable moments and opportunities and stories that convey the values we want our family to model. And to notice and express gratitude when they do something that upholds those values. You know what? It's already working…I see big changes in myself and my kids…I'm not just talking about making beds. I'm talking about genuine caring, selflessness, and giving.
Because it's February, we have been talking to our kids a lot about LOVE. We have 5 one-word rules in our family. Love, Peace, Order, Respect, Permission…"and the greatest of these is love." When you think about it Love is the perfect "rule" to live by and teach kids. Example: "Oh no, you just hit your brother. Was that a loving thing to do?" or "I saw you holding the door for your mommy, that probably made her feel loved." We have been encouraging the boys to do one thing extra loving each day and then we ask them at dinner what they did that day. And you bet they asked US the same question! There are days when I have been blown away by their kindness! On some of those same days, I have had to think REALLY hard to come up with something loving I had done (other than make dinner and shuttle them around). One night, Barrett offered to do Kyle's after-dinner chores. Another day, we had a birthday party at Chuck E. Cheese and Kyle gave a bunch of his tickets (without hesitation and without a suggestion from me) to another kid who lost his. I want to do something memorable.
On February 27th, I am turning 35 years old. In lieu of gifts this year, my birthday wish is to do a Random Act of Kindness for each year since my birth. With help from Cody and the boys, I have made a list of 35 small acts of kindness that I can do with my kids in tow and on a small budget. I will be doing this on Saturday, February 23rd. I would love for YOU to be a part of this with me…Maybe you have an idea for my list, maybe you know someone who could use a pick-me-up, or have something you want me to take off your hands and donate, maybe you want to do this with us (c'mon, it'll be fun), maybe you want to do a random act of kindness on that day. I plan to encourage my Facebook friends to do a random act of kindness that day and comment on what they did. My goal is to "be the change", be an example to my kids, inspire kindness, and brighten the days of others. I don't believe that you have to spend lots of money or do grand things to be kind and show people you care. I hope this challenge will be memorable for my kids. I hope the fulfillment of the experience will inspire kindness in them as well as others.
Right now, I am exhausted…and SO grateful for the joys and sufferings of motherhood that are shaping me and drawing me closer to God.
Matthew 25:34-36 Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’
John 13:34 A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.
Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it.