Thursday, March 4, 2010

Attitude Is Everything

My mother (a very wise woman) always told me that your children know when you are annoyed with them. The more annoyed you become, the more clingy and fussy they become. At the time she told me this, I didn't think much of it. But lately it has been on my mind almost every day.

Our lives are very busy these days. My husband is bogged down at work and has recently started his masters which takes him away from home two nights out of the week. When he is home, there is always a paper to be written or a test to be studied for. What does this leave? A lot of alone time for me and my son. Recently, I have been catching myself having a very annoyed attitude towards the poor boy. I had given up going to him in times of discipline and instead resorted to shouting across the room. Instead of spending time playing with him, I spent time doing things around the house, acting as if he were my side job. I ignored his attempts to communicate with me (which for him comes in the form of sign language plus an "eh" noise) until it was convenient for me to respond. And he reacted. My mostly sweet boy was fussy, whiny, and started throwing tantrums when I told him no. He was becoming the kid I promised myself I would never have. You know, the one in the grocery store who throws himself on the floor while the parent yells at them to get up. I could chalk this up to "terrible toddler hood" but I made a promise to myself a long time ago that I would never do that. So what was the problem? Me.

I woke up before the rest of my family one morning and started reflecting on my attitude towards my son and on my wise mother's words. I decided that morning that I would not be a lazy parent that day. I would use a kind (but firm) voice instead of yelling, I would go to him when he needed discipline instead of shouting across the room, and I would respond to his attempts at communication when he made them, not when I was done with the dishes. And guess what? He was my sweet boy again. This has not been a permanent fix to my mommy attitude problems, and I assure you I fail every day. But I have to get back up, apologize to the Father for treating his little one like he is the most annoying person on earth, and ask for the grace to love my son as he does. I have to remind myself daily that this is my vocation, not a side job. And if that doesn't seem to do the trick, there is always a little attitude adjustment.

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