A Choice to Kick out an old “Frienemy”
When I decided to homeschool, I knew there would be a lot of stress. Trying to find the right curriculum for your family is pressure, getting your schedule together can be really hard, trying to figure out chores and how your going to make everything work with all your little kids around all the time is really hard.
In trying to get all this sorted out this first year, there is one thing I have found that will instantly sink any attempt to accomplish any of these things. Something all parents can easily let escape if we aren’t always on our toes. Especially when trying to inspire someone to learn. Here it is. Anger. Specifically, if I get angry. So I have made a new rule. Anger is NOT allowed in our house. Ever. By me.
Whatever behavior I do, the kids pick up on and do too. If I’m happy and encouraging, they are happy and encouraged. If I focus on their strengths, they are strengthened. If I see their potential and treat them gently, knowing they are barely at the beginning of knowing what life is about, we all have an awesome day with lots of I love you’s and “Mom LOOK what I accomplished!” If I’m impatient and rude because they just can’t see what I do for them all the time, the kids are hurt and I’m a wreck feeling like a bad parent, like a “need a break” and discouraged from taking on such a task.
Michelle Dugger from 19 Kids and Counting says when she is feeling angry, she whispers instead of yells. This was what first inspired me. That and knowing if we are going to get through this amazing homeschooling journey, there was going to have to be a lot of love and patients. The MOST important change of all is going to have to be within myself.
If I wake up in the morning and commit to being gentle and have a servants heart, we have a great day. We are all so happy. The moment I let selfishness creep in, I’m in a bad mood and yelling. I’m not saying I never get time to myself. I’ve learned over the years that my “breaks” don’t need to be lengthy. An hour or two by myself, or a nice evening with Nathan, is usually all I need.
I’m just starting to understand the joy there is in losing oneself in the service of others, and there is MUCH joy to be had. I keep thinking of when the late President Hinkley (of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints if you are not familiar with him, mormon.org) was on his mission in England and he was struggling. He wrote a letter back to his dad saying that people were cruel and ridiculing and he was sorely discouraged. He didn’t want to waste his family’s money and maybe it would be better if he just went home. His Dad wrote back with a single sentence. “Dear Gordon, Forget yourself, and go to work.” So he did and he had an amazing change of perspective and a wonderful experience.
Those words are often in my thoughts and when I do decide to “forget myself” and just get to work, my perspective shifts and I’m full of patience and love.
So back to the no anger rule. This is a conscious every day effort. Some days are rough, some days are heaven on earth, and some days I fail completely. Luckily there is always tomorrow, and tomorrow is another chance. There are more good days than bad and the great days are starting to pile up too. I know that if I work hard on this it will get easier. A quote President Hinkley loved that has stayed with me since I first read his biography in high school.
“That which we persist in doing becomes easier to do, not that the nature of the thing has changed but that our power to do has increased.”- Ralf Waldo Emmerson
I also put up this saying to help me remember.
I am amazed at the loving patience of children. Luckily they are made to forgive time and time again. So many times I have felt undeserving of their affection after some emotional rampage. But they still love and forgive completely. Surly this is a quality meant when we are encouraged to “… becometh as a child, submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon him, even as a child doth submit to his father.” Mosiah 3:19
These kids are amazing and they teach me more about myself than I ever knew possible. In this midst of this refiners fire I sometimes get a glimpse of how these experiences will help us become bright and strong in the end.