I've noticed I've been short lately. Prone to snap at the kids in irritation over what ought to be minor frustrations or setbacks. Tending toward strident demands rather than gentle reminders. Inclined to rant or rave or lecture in moralizing tones about appropriate behavior.
I've noticed my kids have been less patient with each other. More likely to respond with the exasperated tone of a teenager to each other's errors. Less likely to use their powers of calm, rational conversation to work out a fair solution.
I think not. I'm feeling convicted this morning. I wish I knew what takes residence beneath the surface of my emotions at times, replacing my reserves of patience with simmering vexation, goading me to react with toddler-worthy tantrums rather than calm, productive intervention. Ugh.
But today, though I still feel that undercurrent of crankiness, I am going to focus all my energies toward exercising the same emotional control I ask of my kids. Novel, eh? Practice what I preach.
It's not as easy as it sounds: so often the kids are wrong and so often I'm right! Right, I tell you! But right and wrong are secondary to the kind of love that inspires change and transformation, to the kind of gentle truth that allows us to take a long, hard look at our shortcomings and acknowledge them, confess them, and then release them. Seeing the struggle in myself reminds me how much harder it must be for a four- and six-year-old to wrestle their, at times, overwhelming emotions.
We're really not so different, adults and kids.
So in addition to making a concerted effort to model emotional control, I'm going to allow my own challenges to breed empathy for my kiddos' attempts, however feeble, to manage their own frustrations appropriately. And perhaps that empathy will help temper the toddler inside so I can be the first to cultivate a kinder space for confronting our shortcomings.