Mama Monday: Tomorrow, Tomorrow, I Love Ya, Tomorrow!

As January ends so does my month of working on gentleness with my children. I've really tried to be more gentle in my speech, my actions, and my attitudes. It has been incredibly difficult, but so very rewarding.

As my final post about the Gentleness Challenge, I want to encourage everyone to stick with it. Since I'm the Queen of Perfectionists Anonymous, I've had to learn some valuable lessons about myself and achievement. I wanted to share what I've learned with you.

First, you have to be patient. Change doesn't happen overnight, especially when you are trying to do something that goes against your nature. Just because you've decided to be more gentle doesn't mean you are instantly zapped by the Gentleness Fairy and become Mary Poppins. It would be MUCH easier if it worked this way, but not nearly so rewarding. We always value things more that we have to work for. True change takes time. Supposedly about 30 days to break a habit and, I think, probably 60 more days to make a new one!

Second, you have to be persistent. When you have a rough day and take it out on your children, don't give up! Don't beat yourself up. Apologize to your children, then (in your best Bronx accent) forgetaboutit. Guess what happens if you keep beating yourself up about losing your cool? You get frustrated and stressed. Guess what happens when you get frustrated and stressed? You lose your temper more quickly and will probably say things or do things that aren't very gentle. Just remember that tomorrow is another day.

Third, you will never achieve perfection. If perfection is the only way you will be satisfied, then you are going to be sorely disappointed. As my husband constantly reminds me, "If things are perfect here on earth, then why would we look forward to heaven?" And he's right. We do our best here and wait to achieve our perfection there. To be gentle moms we need to give up perfection and focus on making gentleness the new normal.
Fourth, you will achieve permanence. When patience and persistence are teamed together for a while, you will be blessed with permanence. This is the goal. To turn around 3 or 4 months later and discover that being gentle with your children has become the norm not the exception. It's become such an ingrained habit that you don't even have to think about it anymore. Wouldn't that be wonderful!?!? To have people characterize you as the "Mom who never loses her cool." But most importantly, to have your children look back on their childhood and be able to recall only a few times that they've ever seen you be unkind and harsh.

I've really grown a lot this past month. I think feeling accountable to all of you out there in cyberspace has really helped. But in the spirit of full disclosure, and to reassure everyone that I don't have it all together, I lost my temper just last week with Magpie and got really, really angry, harsh, and most definitely, ungentle (is that a word?). And I felt sick about it. After just a month, reacting this way has become much less common so when I do mess up, I just feel wretched. I quickly grabbed Magpie apologized profusely, asked for her forgiveness, and played Candyland with her before supper. Maybe if my kid's learn nothing else from my new leaf, it's that we're allowed mistakes, but we're not allowed to not try to improve.

Looking forward to a fresh tomorrow in the treehouse,


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