Lets pretend for a moment….
Its time to get out the door in the morning. You are in charge of wrangling
the heard of cats your children, out the door. Someone can’t find their shoes. One child is in their room completely oblivious to the fact that its time to go. Someone else is upset because the lunch you gave them was not what they wanted and you still need to find your phone, your keys, and possibly that infamous cup of caffeine with its promises of keeping you awake today. You are keenly aware that if you don’t get out the door now you will be late. Which then will cause you to be charged a fee, or given “the look”, or worse yet a warning of dismissal from your boss. Your frustration level rises and you lose it. You start to sound like those TSA agents at the airport that make you feel like you’ve been through boot camp before boarding your flight. You all get out the door, but your kids are not happy, and you’re not happy.
The above scenario is actually a collage of many mornings in our house. But one day I made one very crucial decision: I was going to find a way to parent without losing it in the middle of my everyday busy. To find the solution I did what I do best: I read, researched, and read some more. And though I’m nowhere near perfect at implementing it, I have come up with a strategy that has changed our family’s life immensely for the better.
Parenting without mommy meltdowns requires that you first recognize your soul as integral part of your being, second, ask a soulful question and recognize the emotion fueling your meltdown, third, allowing your identity in Christ to change your behavior.
Recognize Your Soul as an Integral Part of Your Being
When we think of our mommy meltdown moments often our first reaction is to try and find a way to modify our external behavior without first stopping to recognize that the long term problem is within us. Our soul is an integral part of who we are. In moments like these we cannot just fix the external behavior. We have to give credit where credit is due. In this case we need to ask a soulful question.
Ask a Soulful Question and Recognize the Emotion Fueling Your Meltdown
Finding a way to parent with out mommy meltdown started with one simple soulful question: What is causing my meltdown? I remember lying in bed truly pondering the statement: “I am melting down because __fill in the blank__.”
In her book The Next Right Thing, Emily P. Freeman discusses the idea of becoming a soul minimalist. The basic concept is whenever you have something you really need to figure out, you have to clear the clutter out of your soul the same way you might declutter a closet. Lying in bed that night, I took an inventory of my heart and started to clean house. I singled out a couple of answers like “I am having a mommy meltdown because the children should accept whatever they get for lunch without complaint.” And “ I am having a mommy meltdown because I shouldn’t have to look for their shoes, they should put them away where they belong.” These statements are true, however they aren’t the real issue at hand, they were just clutter.
After clearing all the clutter, do you know what I found? FEAR! Fear of being out of control, of being disrespected as an authority figure, and of the consequences I was going to have to face if we were late.
When you clear the clutter in your soul, do you find fear?
Allowing My Identity in Christ to Change My Behavior
Realizing that fear was driving me to my mommy meltdown was quite an epiphany to me. In all honestly I felt kind of silly and I tried to find another explanation for my behavior. But I couldn’t. So here I am admitting it: trying to get out the door in the morning made me feel afraid.
Moving past feeling silly about the issue, I needed to find a solution. I knew that nothing could change the busyness of the morning. Sure, I could wake up earlier, make our processes smother, prep more the night before, and train better habits. But in the end, tomorrow we will still have to be somewhere and my kids will struggle with misplaced items, being oblivious, and keeping a good attitude. What I needed was a solution that could change my behavior in the midst of the busy.
In his book Atomic Habits, James Clear writes this about behavior change: “When your behavior and your identity align you are no longer pursuing behavior change. You are simply acting like the person you already believe yourself to be.”
After reading this I flipped the statement around and asked myself the question: “What does my behavior demonstrate I believe about myself?” The answer was simple enough: I believe I should be afraid.
But what did scripture say I should believe? The Bible states 365 times “do not be afraid”. Beyond that, 2 Corinthians’s 3:17 says “Where the spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom”. The Greek word for freedom used here literally means “to be unbound.” So scripture says, where the sprit of the Lord is… you are unbound. Nothing should have hold of me, including fear! My actions demonstrated the exact opposite of what Christ says about my identity in Him.
In order for me to get to a place where I can parent without mommy meltdowns, I needed to own my identity in Him and act on what scripture tells me is true. I need to place what God says about my identity above what I feel about my identity. Scripture says do not fear being out of control because I am in control. It says do not fear disrespect, respond in grace the same way I respond to you. It says, do not fear the future because I have a plan for your life.
The Big But
But….. I hear you say…. “I can’t afford to be charged that late fee.” Or “I don‘t want to lose my job” Or “You haven’t seen the looks that I get.” Also, “Kids should respect their parents.” And “Things really do run better when I’m in control.” I get it. I really do. And I am willing to admit that most of those things might be true. Just like “the kids should put their shoes away” and “they should accept their lunch without complaint” is also true. But all of that is just clutter. Clutter we have to clear in order to recognize the fear that is a lie. If we want to parent without “losing it” in the midst of our busy, we have to not only recognize our fear but allow our identity in Christ to free us from it and transform our behavior.