Tuesday, May 31, 2011

"Happy Mother" Day

No, that's not a typo.  We just celebrated Mother's Day.  And, thanks to my wonderful husband, I was able to enjoy it on a girls-only trip to the West Coast with some of my best friends from college.  While lounging by the pool and resting at the spa, I had a lot of time to reflect and came to a shocking (to me) conclusion.  I needed to make some BIG changes in my parenting style.
I always thought of myself as a good mommy.  Not perfect but no slacker!  However, time and again over the course of the trip and upon my return, that little, quiet, gentle voice in my head kept pointing out areas in need of improvement.
* It's not their fault that you stayed awake too late last night.  Don't take it out on them in the morning.
* Did you just tell him to watch his tone?  What kind of tone did you model with him?
* Yes, he should be a respectful little boy but are you respectful to him?
* Was that a hint of sarcasm?  How do you think that makes him feel?
* She's a baby. Babies cry.  Maybe it's your lack of patience.
Last night, the little voice came through in living color as I watched the May 13th episode of The Oprah Show on my DVR.  She was highlighting a Memorable Moment from Pulitzer and Nobel Prize winning author Toni Morrison's past visit in which she asked: When your child walks in the room, does your face light up?
Pulitzer and Nobel Prize winning author, Toni Morrison (image courtesy of The Oprah Show)

"When my children used to walk in the room, when they were little, I looked at them to see if they had buckled their trousers or if their hair was combed or if their socks were up," she told Oprah in 2000. "You think your affection and your deep love is on display because you're caring for them. It's not. When they see you, they see the critical face. But if you let your face speak what's in your heart..." (The Oprah Show website, May 13, 2011)
During the May 13th show, Mrs. Morrison went on to describe an example of a time when her young son showed her a picture he drew and promptly ripped it up when she gave him one of those "smiles".  I could relate to her.  You know the smile she's talking about.  The dismissive one.  There are many times during the course of a day when my son wants to show me something while I am doing a chore I deem as more "important" like washing dishes or putting away clothes.  I throw him one of "those" smiles and say "Ummmm, hummmm" while barely looking his way.
I knew this message was for me when she said that children don't just listen to what we say; they listen for our tone, our facial expressions, our mannerisms, and any other context clue.  I was reminded of the many times I say something to RJ and he says, "Why did you say it like that?" or "Why are you looking at me like that?" It wasn't WHAT I was saying that he heard but HOW I was saying it.
A guest put the nail in my coffin when she said that she found herself becoming an "angry mom" in the way she related to her children.  No, I'm not saying I'm an angry mom.  But, I silently wondered if my attitude towards RJ at times warranted that title.  I ruminated over this through the night and by this morning, I resolved that I was going to be a Happy Mother, no matter the circumstances.
So, I'm declaring today, and everyday "Happy Mother" Day!
*I will smile more
* I will pray more
* I will play more
* I will go to bed earlier
* I will ditch the sarcasm
* I will relax my rules
* I will deal with challenges without letting them overtake my emotions
(Any suggestions on gaining more patience are welcome and encouraged!)
And, true to Toni Morrison's original question, no matter how many times a day my children (and my husband for that matter) walk (or crawl) into a room, I will make sure my face lights up!
I will work hard to make everyday a "Happy Mother" Day!  I hope you will join me!

DeLise is a mother of two young children who believes that chasing around her toddler and carrying her infant constitute exercise! An admitted cloth diaper addict, she enjoys non-existent quiet time and watching anything on TV that is not “G” rated. 

Submitted by DeLise (ShepherdHearts) from NorthMetroDCMommies.com
{Originally published on Our Life Memories (tm) blog on May 19, 2011}


Angel said...

What a wonderful and thought-provoking post!

DeLise said...

Thanks Angel! I've revisited it several times to help keep myself in line. It's something I'm trying to practice! Some days are definitely better than others! Thanks for reading it and commenting!

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