It sounds like an innocent question. It’s been asked by children all over the world for centuries. I’m sure June Cleaver never dreaded this question. Nope. Night after night, she happily whipped up a Martha Stewart-style masterpiece for Ward and the boys on a moment’s notice. And the smile never left her face.
In my house, however, this is a dreaded and dangerous question.
The three pickiest eaters on the planet? All related to me.
So, the other night, my son asks the loaded question, “What’s for dinner?”
Me: Chicken Tacos.
Micah: Uggghhh!!! I can’t eat chicken tacos!
Molly: I’m so sick of chicken. Can’t we have something else?
I don’t know what made this particular night any different than any other night, but I snapped.
“Okay, kids, do you know why I cook things like ‘Tacos’?! Because it is impossible to cook for this family! I find a perfectly delicious recipe. Then, I subtract 75% of the ingredients because of everyone’s objections and am left with exactly three food items! And then I’m expected to perform some sort of culinary magic act and make a gourmet meal that everyone just can’t wait to devour!”
In motherhood, I’m brilliant in a crisis. It tends to be the little, mundane, everyday things that push me over the edge and transform me into Mommy Dearest.
But here’s a difficult, but undeniable fact, moms: We set the tone in the house. When I get grumpy and rude, the whole house soon follows. Having that kind of power is both scary and encouraging.
So how do we stay positive and uplifting about motherhood in the midst of the chaos? Last week’s little rant notwithstanding, I’ve found a few things that have helped me:
Spend time with God everyday. This one’s first for a reason. When I don’t align my attitude with my Creator’s, I’m in big trouble — and so is everyone else in my family.
Don’t expect undying gratitude. Let’s face it. Our kids are not going to fully appreciate all that we’ve done for them until years after they’ve left our house. Expecting it only leads to resentment, impatience and bitter, angry words — that we can’t take back.
Control the impulse to vent. It feels good, doesn’t it? Letting loose of all of our frustrations. To our children. To our husbands. To our girlfriends. On our blogs. But then it’s over. And we feel really yucky. And nothing has changed. In fact, most of the time, we’ve made things worse.
I’ve learned to share my struggles with one or two trusted friends, who will pray for me and hold me accountable in areas of weakness. I talk to God about it. THAT’S productive. Using my words as weapons — or just plain complaining — is not.
Accept our role in our struggles. Sometimes we’re our own worst enemies. I’ve enabled my picky eaters by spending years as a short-order cook. And now I’m mad that they won’t eat anything.
When I view frustrations in that light — and work on changing myself (which I have control over) instead of trying to control others (an often fruitless task), I’m much better off. Asking God to improve our attitudes and approach often produces transformation in us — and those around us.
Motherhood is difficult. But we signed up for this, mamas. And our attitude toward it matters.
Now if I could just figure out what to make for dinner …
Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior. Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you. Ephesians 4:31-32 (NLT)