When you have to speak, before expressing what has entered your heart and letting it pass to your tongue, examine it carefully; and you will find many things that are better not let past your lips. Know moreover that many things, which it seems to you good to express, are much better left buried in the tomb of silence.
- St. Theophan the Recluse
After my last The Way I See It photo challenge, in which I attempted to capture my own personal definition of the term, Home, I randomly picked the word prompt of Work for this week. My assumption was that I'd be racking my brain for ways to make an image of me cleaning the hair out my shower drain somehow artistic. I thought the work I'd be immersed in would primarily be physical in nature.
Nope, I did not see the impending emotional/spiritual brouhaha a comin'!
To make a too long narrative mercifully shorter, I'd gotten stuck in auto pilot mode as far as mothering was concerned. With so much on my plate this fall, I'd subconsciously lumped my kids in with my master list of to-do's. Were my children clean-ish? Check. Were they fed? Check. Were their school uniforms washed? Was their homework in their folders? Were their beds made (at least occasionally)? Check. Check. Check. I was a multi-tasking, "hmm-mmm," "That's nice," "Talk to me while I get this other stuff done" mom. If I listened with one ear, I could stay productive, I reasoned - like drivers who text behind the wheel can stay productive...o-o-o-r totally crash, hurting themselves and others.
We had a bit of a crash over here when my default belief that I am always right, and in the know, because I AM THE ADULT collided with an adolescent burgeoning desire to be truly, fully heard and understood. Hearts were broken - it stings to be categorized, summarized, only half listened to, and it smarts to be reminded that our children are not ours to force into a box of our own design. Parenting as an afterthought, where decisions are made based on what is least inconvenient or most likely to make me, as the mama, look good and in control, creates relational barriers. When we'd come to an impasse, I prayed and prayed for some kind of guidance (um...I don't know what I'm doing!), and here is the answer I was hit with:
Shut your mouth - examine your words, your criticisms before they escape your lips. Re-prioritize. Don't ever presume you can answer your child, discipline your child, negotiate with your child without praying first for wisdom; you're hardly above falling prey at any moment to the parental pitfalls of defensiveness, pride and fear.
I've been working ya'll, laboring away at not overreacting, and staying mindful of my kids' distinct needs and personalities. I've been looking them straight in the eye, offering my full attention, which isn't easy! "This is more important than housework, more important than art, more important than me," I've been repeating like a mantra. I can't get these days, these crucial teaching moments back once they're gone. Now is the time to throw myself into pursuing Christ, at least for the sake of my family. How can I really love them unconditionally (expecting nothing in return) without Christ as my stronghold? How can I forgive limitlessly without a keen awareness of (and deep appreciation for) how often I've been forgiven by God? A one-size parenting system or formula does. not. fit. all. Only Christ can overcome my prejudices, my impulsivity, and only via constant communion with Christ can I possibly know when to compromise and when to put my foot down.
I won't get into the nitty gritty of my particular circumstances, but I can attest, praise God, to the resilience of the parent/child bond. I am wiped out from being knocked down and shaken awake: "Molly, let go of the dish rag, the camera, the Land's End catalogue and PAY ATTENTION! Your babies are growing and hungry - fill them with a sense of security, compassion, divine beauty and a firm foundation of faith." I am beat, but thankful for do-overs. I am thankful for the work at hand. It is fulfilling work. It is holy work. The tears, the apologies, the olive branch offered and accepted, new beginnings: it's all good. It's all mysteriously necessary. I'm learning as I go.
Do you have a work image to share? Please link to it below. Next week's The Way I See It theme will be: Joy. Happy picture taking!
Blessed Feast of the Nativity of the Theotokos, my friends!
Have a wonderful weekend!