Today I started my journey through unconditional love with "love is patient". Patience is difficult, especially for me. But I can say this, after reading the description of patience last night it remained with me today. All day long I kept thinking "be slow to anger, what out for the urge to say something negative, be positive in speech, etc". Now, its only day 1, so its bound to be the easiest day--things are fresh and I felt a little convicted last night...but just remembering what I read and my challenge for today had an impact on today. It was calmer than usual. My usual need to rush out the door wasn't a problem..until tonight when I had procrastinated on all my MOPS stuff and was worried about being late. But even then, I didn't bark my order for shoes or to get buckled up like normal--it was more peaceful and included more of the "please and thank yous" that I insist Maddie learn to say. Overall this was a good first day..my responses a little slower and calmer than normal, even when Maddie through a tantrum at Gymboree. I just hope I can keep it in mind in the coming days to remember to be slower to anger, kinder in my words, and to refrain from speaking negatively.
Day 1 = Complete....on to Day 2: Love is Kind
The Love Dare describes being Kind as having 4 attributes: Gentleness, Helpfulness, Willingness, and Initiative...all of which I think I could work on. Lets start with gentleness--being sensitive, and tender even in rebuking or challenging the other person. While I try never to be harsh when correcting bad behavior, I am not a perfect mom and have had times when I was not nice either. It is a good reminder that part of being kind is always being sensitive to the other person and how they are perceiving the things you are saying.
Second is Helpfulness. As parents we cant help but to offer help to our children, they are after all children and do not know how to do many of the these we have learned over time. However in my own way, I know that I am not always a helpful mom. I think being helpful doesn't always mean doing things for the other person, but sometimes means helping them to learn how to do it themselves. And the second part of being helpful is where I tend to fail. I am the type of person who HATES working in groups because I would rather just get all of the work done and have it be done the way I want it. Too often this carries over into my parenting as well: making a sandwich for Maddie when she asks to do it herself, picking up toys that she has already "cleaned up", etc. Most of this is because of my own desires...not wanting her to make a big mess with the peanut butter, feeling the need to have everything organized or I'm going to go insane, etc. Maybe rather than making sure everything is done MY way, I should be helping Maddie to learn to do things for herself and to be proud of her accomplishments.
Being kind is to be willing. "instead of being obstinate, reluctant, or stubborn, you cooperate, you stay flexible" The first 3 words are probably the way most people would describe me...or at least the stubborn part, lol. We joke in our family that I inherited stubbornness from both of my parents and that Maddie got it from me. It is sometimes difficult for me to be the spontaneous, flexible person I wish I was...and mostly for the same reasons I tend to want to do things myself--I want them done my way. This sometimes means that I am not willing to stop my "work" to play a game or swing (Maddie's favorite thing to do). Sometimes I'm just too lazy and don't want to get up off the couch because I want to watch "that show" or "rest a while". It is always a good wake up call that these subtle and selfish actions are not showing my daughter the true love I have for her and that I should be more willing to put aside my wishes in order to meet her needs--whether its a life supporting need (which I don't ignore now) or a need for attention and affection (swinging, playing games, coloring together, etc).
Last is Initiative--not sitting around waiting to be prompted or coerced before doing something. Gee--this is seeming to run along the lines of being willingness, but with one exception--you act on something BEFORE the other person asks. I pride myself on being described as being a "go-getter" in my work life. If I think of a project that needs to be done, I try to find a way to do it almost immediately. So why cant I do that at home too? Sometimes excuses like 'I used all my energy at work' come to mind, but really its that I haven't been willing to put my energy into my home life BEFORE I put it into my work life. Maybe setting my priorities straight will help my take a little initiative toward finding ways to be gentle, helpful, and willing at home.
The challenge for today: In addition to saying nothing negative--- do at least 1 unexpected gesture as an act of kindness. I'm not sure what that will be yet, but I'm hoping I can find the desire to do more than 1 act of kindness. I pray tomorrow I can remember to be slow to anger, say nothing negative, be gentle, be helpful, be willing, and show initiative toward doing something for Maddie that shows how much I love her.
5 Things I am Grateful for Today:
1. a safe trip to San Antonio
2. sharing Beauty and the Beast (my favorite princess story) with Maddie
3. my MOPS group and their companionship
4. sharing a devotional with my dad
5. friends (young and older) who are wise and care a great deal about Maddie and I
-- Thank You for the support and words of encouragement as I start this journey!