Wednesday, May 19, 2010

The Grouchy Ladybug

Photo by joka2000

As a mom, have you ever felt like the grouchy ladybug in Eric Carle's book of the same title? I sure have lately.

I'm realizing that my children need near constant-supervision at this stage in their little lives. I turn my back for just one instant (which as moms, we need to do. Dishes don't do themselves), and I regret it later. If it's not writing on walls, putting mascara on the couch and door, ripping dollars from their piggy banks, filling the bathroom sink and splashing the water with tsunami force, climbing on the counter for candy, or pinching/hitting/biting a brother, it's something else I could never anticipate. And it makes me grouchy.

Feelings follow thoughts. At least that's what Dr. Laura Schlessinger told a caller today on her radio program. What this means for me as a mom is--if I am thinking about how resentful I am at my children's childish behavior and misbehavior, then I am going to feel angry and grouchy. All day long. And these feelings will probably continue to grow, as I don't see an immediate end to their antics.

Instead of resenting that children cross the line, rather than tow the line, I need to remember that my job is to consistently teach the line. I can't expect them to automatically know that finding the car wash soap in the garage and "washing" the pavement, bicycle seats, the new easel--just about everything but the car (no rinsing either--just smearing concentrated soap all over everything) is not something they should be doing, and that green tire slime for fixing holes is not meant for finger-painting. Then once I've taught them not to do things like this, I can discipline them for crossing that line again.

Sometimes bad days just happen. Sometimes we have less tolerance for childish misbehavior, especially when it is sustained throughout the day. That's why we are all moms in need of mercy. Thank God that He gives us grace and mercy to help us in our time of need.

When a bad day can't be immediately transformed, may we endure patiently. May we not become irritated that we must consistently lead them into proper behavior and discipline them away from wrong behavior. Left to themselves, most children become wayward. The Proverbs talk about this, and I see it in my own home.

I'm going to try my hardest to remember these lessons, and that my job as a mom is to provide constant leadership so my children grow into well-behaved adults. I cannot think, and then feel, like they should just know--and then do--the rights things all day long. Despite keeping this in the forefront of my thoughts, I am sure I will still have grouchy days. Just so long as the grouchy ladybug doesn't stick around for long. Tomorrow is a new day!
Since it's Coffee Talk Thursday, I'd love to hear what helps you when you have a grouchy/exasperated day.


  1. This is hard for me right now as my three boys are almost 3, almost 2, and almost 1. LOL. I'm in the throws of potty training the oldest, who tears up everything, including some of my business tools. The almost 2 year old has disabilities, and the baby, well, he's a baby. I just try to hold out hope that one day, things will get better. I hope that maybe one day, my disabled little boy will be able to talk. And hear. Because if he can hear, then he might be able to learn to obey. If not, I'll continue to learn sign language but that will take a lot longer.

  2. I feel your grouchiness from reading your 1st two paragraphs....I suppose empathy doesn't help, does it?

    Hang in there and keep teaching those proverbs. Interestingly enough, we have been contemplating this exact subject for our next women's Bible study. Recognizing the difference between foolishness (or childishness) and disobedience is so important at this stage. One thing that has helped me eliminate some of those "I-didn't-even-anticipate-that-one", is to explain to the kids they need to obtain permission before doning something I have not previously said yes to. When they get into something that breaks the general principle of previous rule, there are often consequences (often spankings) that go along with the teaching. My questions to them: Did you ask me before doing such and such? If their answer is "no" then I remind them of our rule and then there can be immediate consequences for a general breaking of the rules, w/o having to deal with every specific foolish behavior that hasn't be "specifically" prohibited. (Kinda gives mom the "trump" card, if you will)

    Our asking first policy is taught early and I find they "get it" at a very early age. They break it occasionally but if I am diligent to follow through, it happens less and less. It's all part of the boundary process and learning to respect others (most of the time me or their siblings) by asking permission before doing or touching things that have not been okay'd.

    Swim off some of that energy at "mom time" today. Have a great, less-groucy day. We need to have a play date soon and chat over coffee together :).

    P.S. Mascara would never be in that okay'd category :) Ha Ha.

  3. What a wonderful post. As the mom of a four year old and two year old who is pregnant with our third, I very frequently find my patience running thin. Thank you for the reminder that my 'job' is to teach them how to behave, not just tolerate them. My favorite way to regroup when I'm having a groucy day is by putting on some bad disco music and dancing. My kids LOVE to dance and I've found there is no better mood lifter than seeeing my two year old daughter shake her 'groove thang'!

  4. Your blog is so encouraging to me. It is nice to read a post like today and realize... hey, other Mommies have rough days too!

    I am a homeschooling Momma of an 8 year old, a two year old and I have one on the way (due around Father's Day). I am amazed at how often the boys fight with one another even though there are six years between them. It helps me when I am having a strung out day to take a step back and reflect on all the times God is patient with me. He must feel the same exasperation at times yet He does not wipe me off the face of the earth, which I deserve, He just gently loves me, guides me, and leads me just as I should do with my boys. If I stop and remember how patient my Savior is with me then I am able to take a deep breath, sit with my boys and talk with them about how we can get through a hard day together. It helps me keep things in perspective and the rest of our day tends to go smoother.

    Hope tomorrow is better for you. :D

  5. I appreciate your candor and your determination. How true it is that "constant leadership" is required. I've become so weary of it and have let things deteriorate.

    Things that help me cope are taking a 10 to 15 minute nap (perhaps while the kids watch a short video), tickling my kids so I can revel in their sweet laughter, and turning on music that uplifts my soul.

    I can also take preventative steps by going to bed earlier and making sure I start and continue the day prayerfully. Unfortunately those are not consistent habits, but I hope I can begin to implement them more faithfully to become more grateful than grouchy.

  6. Thanks, girls, for sharing the conversation today! I enjoyed reading what you all had to say.
    Jodi, good tip about teaching to ask permission before jumping into something. Now why didn't I think of that?! ;) Hope you had fun swimming today.
    B, your comment cracked me up! I will have to find our Beegee's CD and pull it out on similar occasions to change the mood and help everyone find fun in each other again. Thanks :)

    Dawna, I can't look at your profile picture right now! (kidding). All these pregnant profile pics are really getting me. :) Anyway, yes hang in there. I have often thought similar things about needing to be patient as God is patient with me. I hate that strung out feeling. Today was actually much better. God knows how much we can bear.

    Aiming4Simple, thanks for the suggestions. I think you summed it up perfectly: it's all too easy to become weary with the constant nature of leadership because, well, it's constant. Sometimes we just want a break! Hopefully we can all find a few things that we can do to hit the "refresh" button and change the atmosphere in our homes and hearts on those grouchy days.

    Blessings to you all,

  7. Oh boy, we had one of those days over here yesterday. Two broken dishes, Milk from cereal bowl dumped onto head, crayon marks on the table, and some kind of general grouchiness settled over the whole brood all day (and that includes me).

    It seemed like time spent cleaning up one mess left time for a second one to be created. What a day!

    But we're beginning again today...fresh. Parenting makes me so very dependent on Father God. And grateful for His mercy.

    Big hugs to you as you continue to encourage moms,

  8. AnonymousMay 21, 2010

    All I can say is I am SO THANKFUL I found read this post today. I have had it this morning. You are right, though, the thoughts determine the feelings, and I have been going around all morning thinking that I can't handle this...the whining, the potty accidents, the constant bickering. I've got to get my thinking right. This day is not lost!

    The other thing I do is to start counting blessings. Write them down if you have to. Or I put on some praise music and sing myself hoarse. I'm gonna go take yours, and my own adivce and see if we can turn these frowns upside down!

  9. AnonymousJune 15, 2010

    I am so grateful to read this post and know I am not alone. =) I don't know if this is helpful but I have begun to implement "pajama days" in order to reduce stress and force myself to just enjoy my children and focus completely on them for at least one day a week - it has helped the grouchiness least on that day =)We don't get out of our PJs, I focus on playing with them and training them, but try to do no other housework or outings for the whole day. It has been a blessing to us. (as a side note, I am a mother of 3 under 3 1/2 and realize this may be an easier thing to do with young ones who are not yet in school.)