Yesterday I did a big-time clean-out of my girls' room. As I slid under their bunk bed to retrieve random socks, candy wrappers, rainbow loom bands, a large family of stuffies and general junk that had gathered or otherwise been stuffed out of sight by my girls, my inner Momzilla was pretty near surface. Thankfully there were no kids withing yelling distance, so it was just me and the mess. Which gave me an opportunity to think a little bit more deeply about this moment of Momzilla.
Nine times out of ten when I get to the heart of my Momzilla moment it has something to do with fear. Which is crazy, because it doesn't show up looking like fear, it looks like raging anger, the kind of which I didn't know I was capable of until I had kids.
When my oldest two were really little, and I first started experiencing Momzilla
moments, a wiser older woman told me this: when I feel the anger, look for the fear. And usually I find it, hidden back there under the anger, out of sight.
In this case I think my fear is saying something like "these kids are never going to learn to take care of their things!! They will always be disorganized and careless and it will ruin their lives!!!" Or, you know, something like that.
If I can look this fear in the face and put it into words I almost want to laugh! This is preposterous. My oldest is only 12, which seems really old sometimes, but honestly when I was twelve I left my room a huge mess too, in fact I am not sure I ever kept my room very clean, even as a teenager.
There is another layer of mom-fear, the fear that I am a failure, but that one is so huge and deep it needs it's a post all of it's own... (to be continued)
These unreasonable expectations lead me to another layer of my Momzilla rage.
Behind the fear, under the surface of my anger, sometimes I am surprised to find self-righteousness and it goes something like this: "how could my children be so careless with keeping their room clean! After all I've done to teach them and all of the hard work I've put into setting a good example for them! How dare they leave their rooms in such a mess."
Yes, this is my heart, like I'm too good of a mom to have kids that leave their room a mess? There are three girls in one room. I hauled three big black garbage bags of stuff out of their room and gave it a time-out in the garage. There was no way they could have kept it clean on their own.
I have just got to get rid of the junk in my heart of false-pride, unreasonable expectations and self-righteousness if I'm going to be able to deal with the issue of teaching my kids to deal with their junk. Which leads me to my next point.
Lack of self-control
My anger often comes back around to my own lack of self control. If I were to look honestly at the example I have set for my kids I would see that their messy room is pretty consistent with my own mess. If I'd helped them tidy their room every night, instead of sitting on the couch watching MasterChef until five minutes before bedtime or sending them to do it unsupervised before computer time maybe we wouldn't be in this position.
I find myself in situations where it comes back around to a lack of self-control or self-discipline all. the. time. I find myself with a toddler in full-on melt-down mode because I'm wandering around Target too close to naptime or during a mealtime. My kids come bounding in off the school bus asking "what's for snack?!!" only to be met with a deer in the headlights look on my face, like this is the first time they've ever asked for such a thing, even though this happens Every Day. I will let my kids have too much screen-time or too much sugar but am still surprised when they start bouncing off the walls. I let things slide until they snowball into something out-of-control and then act like it's this huge surprise.
Yeah, it comes around to self-control/self-discipline a lot for me but I am a big believer that all discipline should start with self-discipline. That before I point the finger at my child I take a second (and a deep breath) to see how I contributed to the mess. It doesn't always happen, but that's what I aim for.
So here is the last thing I want to say about the heart of the Momzilla in the mirror:
In my Momzilla moments I am more aware of lack then of provision and strength. I am more aware of my lack - my lack of time, energy, resources, etc. - and I am almost totally unaware of the grace, strength and provision that is made available to me. That I already have. In this Momzilla moment I'm more aware of this mess than of the moments that really matter, when I taught my kids compassion, when they showed strength of character. I am totally unaware of how loved I am, that I have a veritable army of help behind me if I just speak up. In my Momzilla moment I feel alone and inept for this overwhelming task.
In my Momzilla moment I forget that I am a good mom. I forget that my kids are great kids and that they have already blown me away with their ability for kindness, wisdom and love. They have also blown me away by their ability to complain, be mean and generally Drive. Me. Crazy. but that's normal life. Right?
I love my kids. I fail a ton, but I also have loved them a lot and in the end I believe this: Love Wins.
I believe I am a good mom. I believe when I keep a good balance of carefulness and confidence - careful to not slide into laziness but learning and growing as a mother but mostly confident that I've got this I avoid some of the causes of my Momzilla moments.
I don't have to be afraid that my kids are going to totally screw up their lives. They might, but that will be their own choice and not because of my failures because I am just a regular person, who sometimes makes mistakes, just like everyone else. Sometimes I make good choices, sometimes I make bad choices (Just like my kids.) Sometimes I act out of love, sometimes I act out of selfishness. Sometimes I make mistakes, sometimes I am lazy (Just like my kids.) Usually I am able to recognize my mistakes and do what I can to make it better. I apologize, re-focus or whatever needs to happen. Because I am a good mom and God's grace for me is more than enough.
So this is me. I am learning and growing, often by making mistakes along the way. I am learning that love and gentleness are more effective than yelling. I am a Momzilla. But not all of the time.