I write this with tears streaming down my face because I have been humbled (yet again) by the love and sneakiness (is this a word?) of the Lord. Today was the first day I was able to attend MOPS. For those of you who don't know what this is, it stands for Mothers Of Preschoolers, and is an international organization and basically a place where moms can get together and encourage one another and learn together. Check it out at http://www.mops.org/ In Grand Forks, they meet twice a month for about 2 hours and daycare is provided, while we moms get to have a wonderful breakfast, some well deserved fellowship time, and a lesson pertinent to surviving motherhood.
I have to admit I was a little nervous to go. For those of you who know me well enough you are probably thinking huh? like I was when I first felt this. A) I am a very outgoing person who is rarely scared of a "group" setting and B) I love fellowship and an opportunity to make new friends. So why was I nervous? After a little QT with JC (quiet time with Jesus Christ) I realized I wasn't scared to go because I thought I wouldn't be accepted. Who else would be more welcoming than a group of moms who know firsthand the struggles of motherhood: keeping sane while responsibly raising your full-of-energy children to become respectful, loving, followers of Christ, while loving your husband, caring for your home, and working? I think this group is the most accepting because we all know how this job (motherhood) is by far the hardest, most time consuming, important thing we will ever do. When you become a mother you learn things about yourself you probably didn't want to know. This is why I was scared. I have felt led to be a part of MOPS for a few years now and my wonderful work schedule had never allowed for it. I now know God was calling me here because he knew I needed it. I was scared to face my faults, flaws and failures as a mother.
Back to the story...so the morning was spent with raised voices, crying children and timeouts. The boys woke up well and started out playing nicely (which led hurricane Jonahelijah coming through) and had a mental breakdown when I told them they needed to pick up all their toys. I have started rotating toys so the boys think their old toys are more fun cause they are in storage for a bit before being played with again. I have been reinforcing a new rule where they need to put things away before taking out something else. If they don't follow through the toys end up in timeout and are taken away until they are willing to pick them up. Fortunately we have never reached this point...until this morning. So, I had to follow through and take them away. Yikes! Then, I would normally allow them to watch a bit of a movie while I get ready, but this is not allowed when you have two boys who have disobeyed. To make a long story short, I was frustrated because we were late, the morning started off poor and I was angry with myself for loosing my cool. I have been praying a lot for help with my anger and temper with the boys lately. I feel often it stems from my lack of sleep due to my odd hours and their desire for my attention. Once in the car, ready to go, I asked for the boys forgiveness and prayed we would have a better day.
Here comes the part about God being sneaky. What do you think MOPS was about today? Yep. Anger Management Baby! I was welcomed by many warm smiles and felt a lot easier once I got there. I was also nervous about leaving Elijah because he is very clingy when I am home and just misses me. He wanted to be a "big boy" and go with Jonah, but survived in the room with his fellow two year olds. Then, when the speaker came up to share about Anger Management I almost burst into tears because God is soooooo good!
The speaker did a great job helping us moms recognize our own anger and troubleshoot how to prevent situations form occuring. She offered multiple alternatives to things I often do which do not help the situation when my children and/or myself are angry. She helped us all think about our children and helping them recognize the anger and how to handle it. Then, one of the best parts was afterwards moms asking questions and sharing their own discipline/anger struggles related to their children and what has worked for them. If their is one thing I have learned about motherhood is that you can read a million books and think you are ready for that little one, but the truth is you aren't. God has given me the priviledge of being a mother to Jonah, Elijah and hopefully other children someday. I get paid in hugs and kisses and the joy of watching my children grow and expeirience the world.
I am going to try to implement my new techniques and will let you know how it goes. One thing I have done is encourage Jonah to remind me to pray when I get angry and upset. It's one thing to remember it yourself, but when your 3 year old tells you to take a deep breath and pray to Jesus to help you through your frustrations it is totally different.
One of the books that was recommended by one mom (which I am curious to check out) was called "creative correction" and is supposed to be creative alternatives for your children during discipline/anger issues and bible verses to accompany it. http://www.creativecorrection.com/
I am turning over a new leaf, and I am sure this will take time, but I know I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me!