Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Learning To Run

I am so thankful that a person's behavior can be changed. I am not talking about my children's behavior - I am referring to mine. 

I fight my natural tendencies daily to be the mom I desire to be.  I choose to be patient instead of rushed.  I choose to listen instead of ignore.  I choose to do what is best for the group instead of what is best for me and, believe me, if I actually said, "suck it up," as often as I think it, none of you would like me.

But, I do want to be a better me, and I did not even realize that I was falling short until I became responsible for training my children.  My child doubled as a mirror for all of my actions and a recorder for all of my words.  How could I expect them to meet a standard that I could not meet?  This was huge for me.   

In my case, I became aware of my unrealistic expectations of myself and others.  I honestly thought my husband was a quitter if he went to bed instead of staying up until 3 AM to finish his to do list.  I thought it was absurd for another professional to forget to return a phone call.  And why on earth would anyone not clean their house from top to bottom once a week? Rather than acknowledge, I was legalistic and harsh. I thrived on people praising my productivity.

Then my world changed forever.  I became a mom.  I was responsible for molding the character of another human.  All of a sudden, more than just the end result mattered.  I cared about how he got there.  I didn't want him to just share his toys, I wanted his heart to desire to share.  I didn't want a little robot.  I wanted my child to actually be good, not just act good.  I had not meant to shove these traits aside in my own life but somewhere along the way I had and I was unforgiving of everyone, including myself. 

I needed a change.  I needed help.  I may have been many things, but I was not going to be a hypocrite.  I was now aware and therefore I would change.  But how? 

Thank goodness I had stumbled upon one of the best pediatricians and mentors ever.  I loved going to the baby's well checks because not only did I get medical advice, but our pediatrician also provided parenting support.  He even put a list of recommended readings at the bottom of all well check reports.  I decided to start there.  I went to the store and purchased Grace Based Parenting by Dr. Tim Kimmel. 

This book was exactly what I needed to hear.  I needed grace for myself and I needed to give grace to others.  My world was rocked with the realization that kindness, patience, forgiveness, and humility were not signs of weakness.  It may sound crazy to you but it was seriously a new concept to me.  My outlook changed.  I was no longer going to focus on the finish line.  I was going to learn to run a good race. 

I love to run.  Parenting is much less daunting to me when I view it as an ongoing process. Thank goodness there is not an age limit on personal growth! From the youngest to the oldest we are all still in training.  There was a time when I thought that I had to reach the finish line before I could teach my kids to run.  I am glad I was wrong.

I no longer have ridiculous standards for myself and others.  It turns out that it is okay to go to bed with your to do list unfinished.  I have forgotten not only to return phone calls, but to even show up at appointments. If my house was scrubbed weakly my whole family would probably go into chemical shock.  Do you know what the best part is?  These things do not make me a failure. They make me human, and humans need grace.  Especially humans who are responsible for children.  We screw up more than most ;) 

I challenge you to think about what natural tendencies are parenting road blocks for you.  What will you change?  How will you change it?  When will you start? 

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