“God, God, a God of mercy and grace, endlessly patient—so much love, so deeply true—loyal in love for a thousand generations, forgiving iniquity, rebellion, and sin. Still, he doesn’t ignore sin. He holds sons and grandsons responsible for a father’s sins to the third and even fourth generation.” Exodus 34:6-7 (The Message)
Previously I shared last summer was the “Summer of the Momma.” It was a bittersweet 12 weeks of enjoying one last season before our oldest graduated from high school this past spring. My “momma” heart knew this summer would look very different and I treasured all the “simple” things last summer offered.
This summer began harshly. Instead of enjoying peaceful moments and leisurely days, I was hit with a stark reality of a personality flaw of mine, and was given a choice of embracing the transition and making a significant change or fighting it and making everyone in the family miserable, including myself. I chose change.
God began preparing me this past spring by cementing into my heart the reality which states “control of anyone other than myself is an illusion.” Most people learn this lesson long before their mid-40s, but I’ve been a slow learner. And while I had head knowledge of this truth, at the beginning of this summer I was given the opportunity to turn it into heart knowledge. I decided I loved peace and joy in our home much more than I enjoyed the illusion of controlling others, not to mention deep down I don’t want to control those I love. I love that they are growing, changing and becoming their own people with thoughts, feelings, interests and abilities separate from me. I don’t try to control my husband – why do I feel it’s right to attempt to control my children?
So this summer I set expectations, both of myself and for our children and then took my hands off. I stop micromanaging. Our children are capable of telling time, following through and completing chores. I continued to encourage, offered wisdom when appropriate but took a more hands-off approach and tried to give the message (verbally and nonverbally) that I trusted them to make great decisions the way God was leading them. I also took inventory of my parenting style and realized I had been too strict in some areas and so this summer I chose to lighten their load some. I worked alongside them more instead of assigning chores and walking away to get my own work done. I know the idea of completing huge projects feels overwhelming when facing them alone; yet, they are finished much quicker the more hands involved.
As I sit and write this, our children are sleeping in. There is a list on the counter of the six items that need to be accomplished before 2 PM, when I’m choosing to take them to the library before we drop our car off to get repaired. Six items for three kids (2 items each). I have already washed all the laundry and it’s outside drying on the line. I’m using this time to write while the household is quiet, before normal chaos ensues. The result? They are happier because their days aren’t filled with getting up early and “working all day” while I’m happier because I know the things that absolutely have to be done today will be accomplished by happier children because they now feel (I hope anyway) heard, respected and in control of their own schedules, working inside their own preferences and not trying to fit a mold that doesn’t feel right.
The best part of the whole learning experience? The grace my kids gave me during the transition. They saw my heart – it wasn’t that I wanted to control them, I just struggle sometimes with transitions, even good ones and “control” is my default button. With God’s help, I’m changing that.
© Cheri Swalwell 2018