Let me preface by saying that after writing today’s reflection, I feel raw because of how much I have to learn. This motherhood thing is ever changing, constant learning, every day more to understand about ourselves and therefore how we parent. I choose to keep thinking that every day I am trying to be better, but a lot of times, I feel the weight of how much I don’t know. I am such a beginner, but with that comes the whole idea of Beginner’s Luck, and boy have I lucked out with wonderful kids, and a wonderful mate who travel this road with me, sorting things out as we go, learning together, and generally having fun.
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Today, I am catching up from yesterday – doing Tao Tuesdays with the blog, Tao Te Ching Daily. I am starting late in the cycle, and would like to wind myself around to get through all the chapters. Today, it is Chapter 75. I will share the translation I have and then a reflection.
When taxes are too high,
people go hungry.
When the government is too intrusive,
people lose their spirit.
Act for the people’s benefit.
Trust them; leave them alone.
In my world, I am not so concerned with the government, or ruling the people, as I am trying to manage my own household. This speaks to me more of my children.
In a family, having taxes too high, and people going hungry could mean children’s share of the work load of a home, and not having ample time to play and learn through imagination. I don’t think that is a problem in our home. In fact, we could be in danger of going the opposite way and not giving the kids enough chores. Just yesterday, as we were preparing the house for company, I was doing a lot of prep work in the kitchen, and Scott had the boys bringing in wood for the fireplace, and vacuuming the living room. Benjamin, our ten-year old, got super excited to be able to use the vacuum cleaner. Who knew I was keeping him from such an exciting task?
The kids stayed up to watch a movie, and we adults crashed hard from exhaustion. I was awakened with noise coming from the boys’ room and got up to make sure everyone was okay. The noise I heard was Bean, our seven-year old, putting his toys away and clearing his bed off of the stuff he’d been playing with earlier in the day, so he could go to bed. I sat on his bed while he picked stuff up and put it where it belonged. It was so much fun to see him being so diligent and so responsible. He is the youngest, and this idea of putting away his own stuff has taken him a while. I pretty much always have to point things out that he needs to pick up, because his eyes don’t work that way – to see messes. He just sees that his world is full of toys, and where they are versus where they belong is a mystery to him. Until, it seems, last night.
Apparently, I am not overly strict with getting them to pull their weight around here. Scott and I both remember having a variety of chores by these guys’ ages.
But the too intrusive? That is my number, right there. I can be on the micro-managing side of parenting. I hear them arguing and I want to jump in the middle of it, sort it out, have a talk about it, and usually, all of that is too much. Learning to step back and allow them to work things out between themselves is incredibly hard for me to do. But I don’t want them to lose their spirit. I want them to have full confidence in their ability to work through a situation, even an angry one. How else with they learn to negotiate tricky spots, with someone acting unfairly, or someone not taking turns, or someone hoarding all the good toys? These little parts of sibling rivalry is where they learn to understand so many parts of adulthood, and if i interfere, they will have a harder time being grown-ups.
There are so many parts of being a parent that just can’t be learned ahead of time. There is this constant need to adjust, and reflect, and learn to work alongside them instead of hovering or managing. They have such good little brains. They really can do so much for themselves, and feel the accomplishment of doing something.
Acting for their benefit, then trusting them and leaving them alone to handle their business is perhaps the hardest bit of parenting wisdom I have ever heard. But, at the same time, as soon as I read that line, I realized why we have struggles sometimes – because I’m expecting them to be able to act in certain ways, like responsible young people, when I haven’t actually given them the opportunities to learn or practice those skills. I do too much for them. I pick up the messes that Bean can’t seem to see. I do all the housework and feel exhausted, and frustrated that they don’t help more, but they aren’t being given those opportunities. Chores aren’t punishment. Chores are allowing kids to pretend to be big and handle some of the big people stuff of the home, and model our work ethic, and learn to keep their own space someday. Gosh, it’s embarrassing to see these things in print and see how slow I can be at learning to mother wisely.
Today, I am grateful for these little moments of reflection. I am grateful that my heart seeks guidance and wisdom, and that I am willing to learn to be a better mom. I don’t want to be stuck in patterns that don’t work.
Image from here