It is freezing outside and has been for a while now. My car is parked outside, and the windshield is frozen solid every morning before we leave for school. Well, this creates an issue. We are on a tight schedule, and instead of getting to school on time, we have to wait 5-10 minutes for the heat to defrost the windows. Instead of this inconvenience, I told the kids that it was their job to go out to the car at 7:20 am and start the car so that we would not freeze and our windshield would be good to go. Sounds easy enough, am I right?
Fast forward two weeks from the initial conversation, it is a Tuesday morning, and as usual, we are all throwing last-minute things into lunch boxes and book bags, putting the dogs up, and waiting for the last person to finish brushing their teeth. We are finally ready to walk out the door to the car, and I realize NO ONE has started the car again! It would be an understatement to say it was inconvenient and not what I needed that morning. I let them know precisely how displeased and, let’s be honest, FRUSTRATED I was with their lack of thought. After sitting in the car for 10 minutes to allow the car to defrost, I am pretty sure my kids wanted to be anywhere else. And that, my friends, is where I made the more significant mistake.
I am not sure if you have noticed, but our kids’ hearts are usually not open to us when all we’re doing is nagging them and letting them know how frustrated we are. However, our kid’s hearts are open to us when we share life when we are laughing, eating dinner together, or getting coffee. Joel and I always refer to this as investment time. It is so much more than a fun activity together. These moments will forever affect our relationships with our kids, even if we do not see the benefits until later down the road.
We cannot get so caught up in their mistakes, forgetfulness, or less than stellar performances (aka grades – speaking to myself). One day we will watch our kids emulate our behaviors. Don’t you remember growing up saying, “I will never do ___________ as my parents do?” How often have you done what you swore you would never do? I know, me too. We do it a lot. Our kids will too! Make sure they see you living the life you want to see them model after. We are stewards of our kids, not owners. One day we will give an account of the kids God blessed us with. Perfection is not the goal, though. Know you’ll miss it in parenting, but be humble enough to admit it to your kids when you do. Often that’ll be the more important lesson they need to learn. Let them know how to miss it and then return to a healthy place.
That cold morning could have turned into an ice-cold car ride that ended with my kids escaping from their ice princess mom as fast as they could. Ha! But, I realized my mistake almost as soon as I made it. I didn’t belabor the point of them forgetting their chore any longer. Instead, I humbled myself, admitted that my frustration wasn’t necessary, and then asked them to forgive me. When my kids got out of the car for school that day, they were more aware of my love for them than anything else. It was worth any ounce of pride I was feeling.