There’s something that’s been in my mind for a few weeks now. The other day my husband called and asked me for a very inconvenient favor. You see, we own and operate a snow cone business. It was a good sales week and he miscalculated the amount of ice he was going to need on this particular day. So he called me and asked if I could bring him more ice because he was running out!
You are a mom, so you know that navigating a store with even one mobile (sometimes even not mobile) kid can be tricky. Let alone three very active, mobile boys. This would imply helping them all get dressed (they live in their underwear), loading them up, driving to the store, hopefully getting there before the kids fall asleep, unloading them (as I plead with them to please walk with me, super fast) paying and loading 10 20-pound bags of ice onto a cart, loading them into the car, loading the kids into the car again, and finally driving the ice all the way to it’s destination!
I got tired just typing that! Phew!
My husband apologized profusely telling me that he should have calculated better and gone to the store to restock in a timely manner. He had, after all, had time the day before and earlier that day to do it, but he didn’t.
We are a team and he has bailed me out many times before when I’ve been the one procrastinating! We don’t keep score, we just do what a team does.
As I was driving the ice to my husband, it got me thinking. My husband made a “mistake,” which required me to be there when he needed me. I had to do something that was hard and inconvenient for me as a result of his miscalculation. However, I didn’t lecture him or say, “well, you should have gotten the ice yourself yesterday. I won’t help you so you learn your lesson,” or get mad at him for coming to me when he needed me. I was there for him (just as he has been there for me many times before). So, here is how it connects to parenting.
Why don’t I always respond in this same gracious way when my kids make mistakes?
I am so conditioned to “I told you so” or “don’t come crying to me,” that I forget that our kids are as much a part of the team as my husband and I. The grace should be even more present when my boys make mistakes because they are learning. Not only are they learning that actions have consequences, but they are watching me for cues on how to respond when someone else makes mistakes.
The way I respond to them is how they are going to respond to those around them.
Now, you may argue, well but I told them it would be cold and they still refused to bring their sweater. True, but it doesn’t take anything out of me to grab their sweater just in case they change their mind. It will NOT stop them from learning that there are consequences to their actions. PLUS it WILL teach them that it is ok to make mistakes and that they can always can count on me to be there when the consequences hit. It won’t always be as simple as grabbing their sweater for them and having it ready when they get cold. Sometimes, I won’t be able to fix their mistakes or protect them from the pain that might result from their actions, but I will always try.
I will always be there, and that is the message I want them to hear loud and clear.
So from now on I will lecture less. I will never utter the words “Don’t come crying to me when… (insert whatever warning I’ve repeated tirelessly) happens.” Because ultimately, if I’m being honest, I DO, ALWAYS want them to come (running, crying, sharing, etc.) to me.
No matter how big their mistake, no matter how big the consequences. I want them to know that I will ALWAYS be there for them, not to save them but to walk along side them, and most importantly, to love them through it all, without conditions.