I love efficiency…always have. Doing something quickly and effectively gives me a thrill (yes, that’s weird) and is so satisfying. It also helps that Aaron really likes efficiency too and so I know that he appreciates it when I do things that way. And in general, it’s a good thing. But in the last weeks, I’ve been realizing that sometimes it isn’t, especially when it conflicts with my loving and mothering.
Here is a common scenario at our house: I’m making dinner and the kids are “playing together” on the floor (Genoa sits in her bouncy seat and Cedar brings her toys, shakes her rattle for her and tries to cuddle with her…it’s really cute!). Something is sizzling in the skillet and I’m chopping up stuff for a salad (our living room, kitchen and dining room are all in one great room) . Cedar gets a little too rough and starts throwing his toys, something he’s not allowed to do. I reprimand him from my spot at the island because I don’t want to leave my efficient dinner preparations. He does it again, and this time I leave the kitchen and respond more sharply because I’m frustrated that he’s interrupted my efficiency. He responds to my frustration by whining and throwing himself on the floor, or maybe even throwing more toys. And things just go downhill from there. Yes, I have a very strong-willed toddler and we both have Irish tempers…great combination!
But I’ve discovered something in the last several weeks. Now, when Cedar disobeys, I try to push aside all thoughts of efficiency and “getting things done”. I try to take the time to go over to where he is at and kneel down to his level. I try to make him look at me and I talk to him in a calm voice and remind him again that he shouldn’t be throwing his toys. If he then disobeys again (which ends up happening much less than when I would brusquely reprimand him before), he’ll be punished, but neither of us get so frustrated. Yes, it may take longer to deal with, and my efficiency is sometimes out the window, but in the long run, does it really matter if dinner a few minutes later than I said it would be? No, not compared to building my relationship with my baby-quickly-turning-little-boy.
So yeah, that’s what I’m working on right now. And believe me, some days go much better than other (the key word in the previous paragraph was “try”). But if there’s one thing that I’ve learned in this whole parenting journey is that there’s always more grace. Grace for me to give my little guy, and grace for myself. Always more.