Last night….

Last night was a magical night. It certainly did not start that way. Aaron and I arrived home from shopping, tired, with arms full of groceries and a fussy baby, both of which we carried inside through a snowstorm. Only to be greeted with a scene much like the one we had left an hour earlier.  The living room was trashed, the TV was blaring, the kids were on the couches sluggishly enveloped in various forms of media.  Showers had not been taken.
When we pointed out that we had asked them to clean up and shower in our absence so that we could enjoy a family movie night (complete with movie theatre candy bought to order!) before it got too late, they were not very remorseful. I would say more along the lines of hmm….dismissive and defensive.  Quiet remorse would have served them so much better. Sigh…when will they learn?
And so I announced that movie night was off and to bed they would go instead.  And then I retired to the bathroom and uttered a fervent prayer for strength. 
I am a softie. An undisciplined disciplinarian. I give too many chances…second chances, third and fourth chances.  Our kids are taking us less seriously every day.  And every day we are closer to anarchy….nobody is happy when that happens. In other words, it has to stop.
I knew my kids would not go quietly into that good night. They are master beggars, pleaders, negotiators, whiners, wearer downers….and I…I am weak.  Thus my prayer for strength.  This time, I would not back down, nay, not in any way shape or form.  However I was also determined that there would be no escalation. I would not be engaging in any screaming matches or tense negotiations.  I would remain calm and immoveable. In short, I would be completely unlike myself.  Thus my prayer for strength.
After the sullen, tear-stained crowd had gathered for nightly prayers and scriptures, I took a deep breath and told them how much we loved them. I apologized for being an inconsistent disciplinarian. I admitted how much I hated to see them lose out on fun.  I apologized on behalf of their father who is even more of a softie than I. I told them that in order to be the amazing people I know they were meant to be and to fulfill the amazing missions I knew they had, they needed better parenting. They needed more consistent discipline.   They needed to feel the Spirit in our home. Which could not be here if we let them get away with bad or sloppy behaviour.  I told them that this would not be a safe and happy haven for anyone if we did not have rules and follow through consistently with consequences if they were broken.  I talked about the fact that due to our lax parenting of late, Ella had been exposed to raised voices and contention at such a tender, innocent age which had not been the case for any of them, and it was not fair.
But mostly I talked to them about how special they were. I recounted very specifically how I had been shown in many ways, even before they were born, how spectacular each of them were and what special and remarkable things they were sent to do.  I told them I knew that they could not do remarkable things if they were allowed to live undisciplined lives. They might do good things, and lead good enough lives, but I know they are meant for greater things. Now by great things,  I am not talking about going to Harvard and playing at Carnegie Hall or in the World Cup. Although there is nothing wrong with those things.  I am talking about being influences for great good, marrying people who are worthy of them, raising strong eternal families, expanding their minds and their views and using their education to serve their communities and those less fortunate. Finding work that truly fulfilled them and bettered the lives of others. Understanding their infinite worth in the eyes of their God and living up to His great plan of joy for them.
Frankly, I did not expect much. Glazed stares, sullen mouths, “wrap-it-up-already-woman” expressions, but instead I saw eyes welling up with tears, softened expressions, heads resting on my shoulder, hands reaching for mine.  Prayer answered. Miracle wrought.
And then, stunning development.  The child most fearful of sentimental  or emotional displays of any kind, tentatively suggested that in lieu of our movie night, perhaps we could all recount an incident when we had felt the Spirit in our home.  What followed was some of the most magically memorable moments of motherhood (say that 5 times fast) I have ever had. I will never forget.  It was a total love-fest from oldest to youngest, but it was so much more than that. It was truly spiritual. Transcendent. There were plenty of tears and great resolve, and an incredible sense of unity. 
I’ve got to be honest and say that I’ve  found parenting overwhelming and daunting lately.  We are in previously unchartered and very hormonal territory, and I do not do well with change. My babies are growing up…fast. With or without me, and I feel a great sense of trepidation more days than not. I have the sense that I’m totally out of my depth and at great risk of screwing this up…badly. And this growing up thing-it’s so unfair-it just snuck up on me, without a warning…what is worse-there is no rewind button.   No do-over. 
But last night was just what I needed to know that it’s going to be ok.  Provided  I don’t try to go at it alone. A reminder that Aaron and I are not abandoned in this great responsibility, that we can and must reach for our lifelines every day, that many more fervent prayers can and should be said, and we have some pretty amazing kids to help us along as we muddle through this thing they call parenthood.  Today they were back to being just normal kids, pushing boundaries, trying their luck, but I felt a much greater sense of peace and confidence in my parenting. We are not alone in this. It’s going to be OK.
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Becky said...

Beautiful thoughts. You can do it, and the result will be worth all the hard work and sacrifice.

2busy said...

What an incredible experience and post! Thank you for sharing that. You have wonderful children, and you and your husband are doing an awesome job despite your trepidation. It is evidenced by this lovely experience and your children's reaction. Good job mom!

Lucia- insert creative nickname said...

Wow! You're my hero of the day! I love your perspective and your ability to look outside of the annoyance of the situation to the bigger picture of what they are to become and your role in helping them get there. Whew, we need to hang out more so it can rub off on me. Also, I love that you stopped to ask for divine intervention, and then enjoyed and were thankful for it. Thanks for sharing, that was an awesome post.

the domestic fringe said...

That's awesome! What a sweet post.

Kallie said...

I cannot say anything to add -- it was perfect. you should write a book. or just print out your blog. :)

Anonymous said...

Lovely message and reminder. I am so glad that you will have a record of it to refer back to when time and tensions haze the memory. Well done. You are a great example.
Love you.

DianeSS said...

What an outstanding post and an excellent reminder to all us parents that we don't have to, in fact we definitely shouldn't, try to do it on our own!