Even when I'm hormonally balanced and not going through a tough trial, I can get my panties in a wad over really serious stuff.
Bent cardstock activities before I have a chance to laminate them.
Peanut butter on clean clothes and in freshly washed hair.
Trains chugging down the track 10 decibels too loud.
We've all read posts that encourage us to not fret about the crumbs on the floor and focus on what really matters. (By the way, I EXCEL at not worrying about the crumbs on the floor. Totally one of my strengths. ;) We've read posts that encourage us to let kids be kids and not freak out about the things we'll look back on someday and laugh at. These posts encourage me to keep my priorities in check. I can't completely let my house go, but it helps to be reminded that my kids are more important than coffee tables without fingerprints. On a good day I can take the "peanut butter gel" hair do in stride.
BUT, here's my problem. I walk away from reading these encouraging posts and think, "I'm going to just stop worry about these silly things I get mad about and my parenting will be just peachy!" I imagine peals of laughter with a little background music... boys sitting in my lap while Mommy tickles them... and my hair's falling in my face "just so." Snuggling while we read a book together and maybe even whipping up a batch of cookies while we happily coat the kitchen in a layer of flour.
Yep, I'm just going to stop sweating the small stuff. So, here goes...
I get up from the computer and I'm confronted with one child pummeling the other because he took his toy and is screaming unkind words at the top of his lungs.
There went the fuzzy feeling.
I've never heard a seasoned mother say, "I wish I had just ignored more of their tantrums or hitting or defiance." (I'm not saying no one's ever said it, I've just never heard it.) What I've heard over and over and over again is, "I wish I hadn't been so concerned about the little things. The messes. The immaturity. The noise."
I say "no" "stop" and "aaagh" enough about real issues. Fighting over toys, unkind words, defiant attitudes. I really don't want to double (or triple) the "no's", "stop's" and "aaagh's" over things like messes, mismatched clothing and dance parties that are entirely too hyper for my nerves.
BUT, it doesn't end there.
I have to remember that not getting uptight about those non-issues doesn't make parenting hunky-dory. There are a lot of difficult, important issues that I'm going to have to deal with all day long for the majority of most of my parenting days. I want to keep the proper perspective. I don't want to read inspiring posts or quotes and think, "Ah, yes. If I could only keep that mindset it would all be just fine." It might make it closer to "fine" but the truth is, when I step away from the computer or book or conversation with the awesome advice, reality hits and it's not always something that can be "taken in stride." Sometimes it's something that has to be dealt with. Sometimes it's something that DOES matter. And often my aforementioned resolve is lost before anyone's even read my comment about how great the post is.
I also find myself struggling to make the big deals a big deal. I'm in the middle of chopping the onion and I'd rather pretend I didn't see him touch the ornament on the tree that he knows isn't allowed. I'm less than 5 minutes from having my hair and makeup done and I'd rather pretend that the unkind tones I hear them playing with in the other room aren't happening. They're disobeying for the ump-teenth time today and unleashing my frustration with yelling and a swift punishment is much more appealing than getting down on their level, looking them in the eyes and lovingly correcting and disciplining them.
Somehow I easily get it all backwards: I DO sweat the small stuff and let the big stuff slide.
So I'm trying to take a deep breath today, knowing full well that as you read this I'll be struggling to not care about the non-issues and put the extra effort needed into the real issues. Parenting isn't only a battle of balancing between keeping a clean, orderly home and spending enough time playing and laughing with my boys. There's sin vs. the glory of God at stake... and in the end THAT is the real issue.
I don't want to have a lot of regrets someday. I don't want to look back and say, "I wish I hadn't worried about those things." My prayer instead is that I'll be able to look back and say, "I'm glad I made a big deal about what mattered and shrugged off the rest."