If you talk about “stress,” we’ve got a boatload right now.
Sometimes I feel like I’m so living in March and all that HAS TO BE DONE by the moving date that I miss life as it’s happening right now.
I’m still working out how I make all things happen that need to get done while balancing the immediate needs right in front of me.
And I feel like I’ve got tunnel vision.
The problem with tunnel vision is that I’m like a chugging train with a big ole whistle, gunning for my blog, my business, selling/renting this house, setting up residence in TX, saying good-bye, starting over, packing up.
Full steam ahead.
And when I get going full steam ahead, I barrel right past my two upturned, angel-baby, faces. I miss them. They start to become the obstacles instead of the reasons.
We clash. I discipline. I hurry. I rush. I fly through a story before bedtime because my mind is already making mental checklists of how best to use their limited naptime. I get anxious because I can’t do all that I need to do because I’m with them all day. I get flustered.
And when I get flustered, my one-who’s-so-like-me becomes that much harder to handle, harder to motivate, slower to listen, exasperating to calm.
At the end of days like today, I feel anxious, beaten down, rejected. I’ve been learning a hard and humbling lesson over and over and over this week. That parents make mistakes. That I’m making mistakes. That even though I try my best, think my best, act my best, love my best - it’s never going to be perfect. I’m never going to love them perfectly enough. Even though and when and how I want too. Above all, I feel like I’ve failed, am failing.
In the past week, I’ve read two different articles with a similar thread. One I found through another blog, the other sent to me in an email by a dear friend. They’ve inspired me to “see” interactions with my spirited Meggie differently. You can read them here and here.
You see, I had this conversation with Meggie that went something like this:
“Meggie, I love you so much!” - big hug -
“Meggie, when Mommy says, “I love you,” what do you say?
She looked at me and answered, “Mommy, please forgive me.”
It feels like we’ve been doing non-stop discipline. I guess she feels that way, too.
Our pastor said something in a sermon last year that came back to me then. He said that for every stern word spoken to our children, it takes about five positive words to rebuild their esteem.
Words are powerful. And if we need to be doing non-stop discipline (and with a strong-willed 2 year-old it appears that we do) in the middle of all this stress and chaos, then I want my other words to like a well-spring of life to my Meggie.
That means that I need to be speaking about 100 words of love to her, filling up every other minute of her day.
Sometimes, lately, choosing to love her this way feels like it takes every ounce, every miniscule drop of my nonexistent strength.
It’s something I cannot always do on my own sheer willpower. But when I remember what it was like to birth Alice Virginia, perching over the hospital bed, panting through the delivery of her head, her ten pounds pushing out of my body on my own human strength - I think how much more can I do when I’ve got the backing of Christ.
Because God made her perfectly and to be my perfect firstborn match, I can love her like he tells me to and how she needs me to and with the words she wants me to.
And words are working. I speak these things to her and over her now every moment that I remember:
“Meggie, you are Mama’s precious girl.”
“Did you know you’re my treasure?”
“I love you forever and ever and ever.”
“I love you and God loves you.”
“You are so very special. You are absolutely perfect in every way.”
“I’m so glad you are my baby girl, that God gave you to me.”
“I’m so happy and thankful and proud that you’re My Meggie.”
“Meggie, you have such a kind heart, a servant’s heart, and that’s a gift!”
“You are dear to me. You were Mama’s first baby, and you’ll always be special to me.”
“What a pearl you are. What a gift! I couldn’t ask for anyone else I’d rather be spending time with.”
“Mama loves getting to stay home and watch you grow!”
“Meggie, I prayed for you before I knew you and you changed my life for the better in every possible way. For you, I’m so thankful.”
“You are my true delight, and you have so many gifts to share with this world.”
There’s a peace about her now, a calm. And she’s started throwing her arms around us with abandon, shouting: “I LOVE you!” I guess she IS a quality-time/words of affirmation gal like me. :)
So much better than: please forgive me.
Oh, and you should just see her smile. She’s proud of herself, and secure in our love for her and her place in our family.
Among the stress and the chaos, of which I’m sure she perceives, I’m thankful that through our words we’ve found one way to help her feel stable - and one more way to see past the tunnel.