I love my children to bits. To bits. But shopping with them the other day completely stressed me out. I ended up walking through the supermarket, pushing the stroller with one hand and holding onto my son around his middle, legs kicking out the back. My oldest was running behind, trying to keep up with the fury of his mother. I was murmuring under my breath. Something about never shopping with my children again.
Kids are kids. They love to play. They long for attention and love. That day, I made a choice. A choice to put my to-do list before my children. A choice to ignore and be angered by their playfulness. When did my bundles of joy became bundles of anxiety?
Not any more. Never again. My children will not stress me. Shopping centre tantrum, refusal to sit in the pram, demanding independence, mucking about, harping for treats, knocking over displays, hiding among clothes racks – will not worry me. They are my delight and priority. Always. Never my need for a Valium.
Now, to be practical, there are habits I must reform so that time with my children is not a burden. I can’t be in a hurry. I have to schedule plenty of time to complete tasks. Rushing equals stress. Trying to run more than three errands at once is not practical with young children. I can’t expect them to cope, let alone me. Things are simpler if I do short bursts.
I don’t know about you, but I often think, “I can’t pacify my son with a chocolate bar. Everyone will think I am a neglectful mother.” I will never see these strangers again. Who cares what they think! They don’t know me. I have to cut myself some slack. If you come across me in the supermarket, just so you know, for the sake of sanity, I’ll be dishing out donuts.
Finally, my new habit is fun! Yes, I know, it should be a given, but in the busyness of life, it is not. Time with my kids is a pleasure. Exciting. Memory-making. Love generating. There is only one thing to do. Be with my kids. The rest, is a bonus. If I tick off my list, awesome. Number one, is to have fun with them today.
Psalm 127:3 Children are a gift from the Lord; they are a reward from him.