Mirror, Mirror, Mirror
Today, my three little loves head back to school after the week-long test to my sanity, also known as spring break. It’s an understatement to say that I am ready to get back to our regular routine. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed the few days that I got to sleep in a wee bit later; had no mad dash to get to school, lessons, and practices on-time; and the general sense of a relaxed pace. I even relished some quiet moments playing and cuddling with each of them.
But, wow, time trapped alone with your kids is a granddaddy of an eye-opener. And, I was literally trapped with them. I’m usually all about adventures, activities, playdates—anything to keep them engaged, moving, and entertained. But this glorious week was bookended by two separate three-day illnesses, and no, not the same bug as you might expect. This meant no friends over and no taking the kids out and about. On our intermission from the icks, we took a 4-hour road trip for an escape that was supposed to last three days. Instead, a bout of strep throat shortened it to just over 24 hours, and we were back in the car headed to the comfort of our home to ride it out. So, the circumstances were heightened and not normal; nonetheless, the intimate time with my children was both challenging and enlightening.
There was whining, crying, bickering, pleading for electronics, down-and-out fighting and wrestling among the kids, yelling, rudeness, and defiance. Yes, yes, I know it is all magnified, and children act out more with their parents because they know that no matter what they do they are loved unconditionally. Got it. The problem is, the normal acting out, moaning, and squabbling wasn’t what rattled me.
What hit me the hardest were their behaviors that reflected mine. I could hear it in the sharp tone my 8-year-old used when addressing his younger brother and sister. I saw it in their heightened agitation as we tried to work as a team, but someone didn’t pull his or her weight. I felt it in their snippety impatience with one another. I caught it in their frustration when I didn’t react to their repeated calls because my focus was on my phone or to-dos instead of them.
As parents it’s common knowledge that we model behavior. There’s the old adage that kids live what they see, and what I was seeing in their behavior wasn’t making me proud. Of course there were glimpses of sweetness, sharing, caring, helping, leading, and love, too. But the sting of my negative traits—my weaknesses—being mirrored by my children really hit home. It was the aha-moment that lasted for the entire week. I realized no matter how many times I sing, “Treat others the way you want to be treated,” or “We speak with love and kindness,” unless I followed my own advice, my kids won’t either. It’s time to walk the walk, not just talk the talk.
Instead of chronicling amazing adventures and experiences this spring break, I got a long, hard look at a reflection of my behavior and influence over my children. And, while there’s a lot of good, I definitely have some work to do. As they head back to the classroom, I’ll be focusing on living the reality I preach: patience, compassion, and composure. Being forced to look at the way things really are instead of the way you want them to be, can be the nice, swift kick you need to act.
Meanwhile, as I lamented over a week cooped-up with my three darling children, I came across a Facebook post by Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat, Pray, Love and quite a daily inspiration, that puts things in perspective. She challenged her FB friends to raise $20,000 for her favorite charity by Wednesday. If met, she promised to match the charitable donations and for fun, post two karaoke performances to Facebook. Here’s what got me, the nonprofit is BlinkNow, (www.blinknow.org), founded by Maggie Doyne, who at age 18 traveled to Nepal and was so moved by the plight of the homeless, orphaned street children, she decided to act. She stayed in Nepal and founded an orphanage. She began to legally adopt children without homes, and now at age 28, she is the mother to 51 children and is responsible for several hundred others who attend the school she founded and who live in the home she built for them. A women’s center and a medical center are also on her list of achievements. WOW! Talk about action and living your purpose.
You can join me in donating to this incredible cause at: http://bit.ly/1C144Au (Add KARAOKE CHALLENGE in the “special instructions” box, so they know the donation is from the Elizabeth Gilbert prompt, through which, as of this writing, more than $15,000 has been raised.)