Mothering is HARD. We all know that. Sometimes we think that we're stuck and have to live in that crummy place where our kids are frustrating or life itself is frustrating and we can't do anything about it. But that's not true. There IS something we can do about it. We have the ability to make a change. And it starts with US.
How many mornings have you had a fussy toddler? How many days have you had to cope with little to no sleep? How many times has one parenting moment made everything worse? We all have days where things can go from one difficult moment and spiral out of control into a terrible day. It doesn't have to be that way.
I'm going to share with you my one simple phrase that helps me change my attitude and turn my day around with my kids.
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Usually it would happen when I would read an inspiring blog post. I'd read it and with grateful, teary eyes, look around the room and cherish the little faces I'd see playing around me. I'd hug them and they'd hug back, then squirm away to get back to their urgent activities.
Then I noticed that I started saying it when a little person was super crabby and just couldn't be satisfied. It made us feel better instantly.
Then I started INTENTIONALLY saying it both when things were HARD and when things were GOOD, because WHY NOT??
So What's The Phrase?
- "I'm really glad I get to be your mom today."
I say it TO MY KID with all the sincerity and kindness that I can muster.
Why is this so magical? I'll tell you.
I tell my kids all the time that we usually can't change the situation we're in. We can't change other people. We can't change their words or actions. We have very little control--which can be frustrating and scary.
But we can control ourselves.
We can control our RESPONSES to everything that happens around us and to us.
And how we respond to our circumstances can make all the differences in the world--even at that very moment. It can completely REVERSE the direction you and your kids are headed in.
In the midst of a hard moment, me telling that little person, "I'm really glad I get to be your mom today" does 5 specific things.
1) It reminds ME to be grateful for my kids
My kids are a gift and so are yours. But to be honest, they don't always feel like a gift. With every reminder to put their stuff away, motherhood can feel like a chore. Every time you have to negotiate a truce between siblings, that frustration builds. When they talk back, you can wonder what possessed you to have kids in the first place, right?
Having the reminder that your kids are a gift instantly helps my heart care about the right things. It makes me want to love them more, hug them more, and spend really good quality time with them. Because our lives could change at any moment and we don't know how long we have together. So we should savor our time with each other even in the midst of regular old daily life of homework and chores and soccer practice.
And sometimes it reminds me that my husband and kids are my most important job (of the MANY that I have). Maybe I need to slow down in that moment and give my kid some undivided attention. Our relationship is more important than responding to a text, folding clothes, or thinking about a blog post.
2) It reconnects me with that kid
Sometimes the fact that I have a specific relationship with each of my kids kind of escapes my notice. Since we have a big family, it can start feeling like I'm a shepherd and each of them are just a part of the herd.
But they are each individual little people, with their own hopes, dreams, struggles, and souls. And I need to relate to them individually, not just collectively. This moment of me telling them that I'm grateful to be their mom is like an invisible magical lasso that binds us together.
My kid always, ALWAYS smiles or snuggles a little closer when I say it. And it always fills me with ALL THE FEELS. And we need all that gratefulness to help us overcome what's difficult--you cannot complain AND be grateful at the same time. It simply doesn't work.
3) It teaches them how to respond in a hard moment
My kids hear me express a LOT of different emotions and communicate TONS of information throughout the day. I want my children to grow up with emotional intelligence, that is, " the capacity to be aware of, control, and express one's emotions, and to handle interpersonal relationships judiciously and empathetically."
I want them to see me respond with self-control and gratitude to frustrating situations, because I want them to learn that skill instead of lashing out in anger. I want them to choose grace and mercy over selfishness and pride. I want them to learn that they can respond to situations, they don't have to react. They have the choice, every time.
It's also a good moment for my kids to see me humbling myself. They need to hear me say that I'm sorry when I've messed up. They know that we make bad choices sometimes. They need to see us take ownership and handle it rightly--seeing the bad choice for what it is, taking responsibility, and apologizing. Just like we teach them about processing others' bad choices, they need to be able to process ours'.
4) It injects SWEETNESS into the moment
I frequently tell younger moms at church that when you have little bitty babies, the hard things are SUPER HARD, but the sweet things are also SUPER SWEET. Like when your baby pats your shoulder while you pat her back. Or those first few smiles that are only for mom and dad. Or when they make those eyes-closed sleepy smiles. Yeah, those are my FAVORITE!
When your kids get bigger, things get easier in a lot of respects, like diapers and getting dressed, but the relationship gets harder. You're not waking up 3 times every night to attend to their physical needs, but you're helping them navigate conflict with siblings, friends, and even grownups. Whether they're 3 or 13, they're exploring their world and learning, and you're frequently getting in the way of what they want. And they OFTEN will express their displeasure at you saying No to their favorite toy, or activity, or show. It's hard in a totally different way.
So when you have opportunities to inject sweetness into the situation and relationship, DO IT! Your day will no doubt need it, and you definitely want them to remember all of the moments of sweetness that they can with you. I LOVE being a productive person, but I would MUCH rather my kids remember me making them feel loved instead of me accomplishing a lot.
So saying "I'm really glad I get to be your mom today" injects some much needed sweetness into a frustrating moment. It says, "I love you and I choose you. RIGHT NOW. In THIS moment. And I'm grateful for you." Who doesn't want to hear that?
5) It resets the situation
Taking the moment to say this phrase (and for them to hear this phrase) helps us reset. It gives us the opportunity to say to ourselves, "Wait. This isn't where we want to be. We love each other. And this relationship is a gift. So let's go in a different, better direction."
I'll frequently follow it up with "Can we reset?" It's all about communicating to the child that things aren't good and we know it and we want them to be better. We know that we're flawed, sinful humans just like them. And we're both to blame.
So let me encourage you. It's worth it to fight for joy as a mother! It's worth it to work hard on building strong, positive relationships with your kids. Will every day be perfect or easy? Of course not. But it's worth it to press on.
Say this phrase to your kids right now. Don't forget. Let it make your day better.
Do you have a phrase or a tradition that you do with your kids that makes you day great or helps with hard moments? Tell me in the comments!