Good or bad, they intrude on our thought process. Big or small, they invade our privacy.
In fact, I think that God gave my children a need-o-meter — something that goes off ONLY when I am in the middle of trying to calculate important numbers, like paying bills or balancing the checkbook. It also seems to go off as soon as I step foot in the shower or run to the bathroom really quickly. I don't understand it. One minute they are playing so sweet together, not needing mommy for a thing, and then, when I'm elbow deep in dinner preparations, the alarm goes off and disaster ensues.
And then it happens…I'm am faced with a choice.
I could spout off a mini lecture about privacy when mommy is in the bathroom or the ol' “there's nothing I can do about it, I'm NAKED IN THE SHOWER!” Which, of course, NEVER happens in this household, ahem…
I could think of a few sweet words to help the process move along in my absence until I can be there.
Some days I am better at the “kind words” part of it, other days it takes every ounce of my being to keep the boiling from spewing out my head when all I want to do is go to the bathroom in peace!
So how do we stop the rising frustration in its tracks to pour out love, even when we are being interrupted?
I have a list of questions that I mentally begin asking myself that helps re-route my adult temper tantrum into the patient mom I was created to be.
- Does this HAVE to get done right now?
- Have I explained to the kids what I'm doing?
- Have I laid out my expectations?
- What do the outward actions of my heart look and sound like?
Now, let's go through a practice round.
Let's say I am balancing my checkbook or trying to make an important phone call. My two-year-old keeps coming up and yanking on my sleeve while I'm typing, a highly emotional 8-year-old is having a meltdown over the Batman cape, and one of the girls is crying because her sister wouldn't listen to her cool story. All of a sudden, I go from got-it-together-mom to we're-about-to-be-a-family-of-six-if-SOMEone-doesn't-stop-bugging-me!
- Does this HAVE to get done right now? Most of the time I try to get this kind of work done while the kids are in bed at night, but let's face it, life happens, and sometimes you just don't have that luxury, or time just doesn't allow. So, YES, it must be completed now.
- Have I explained to the kids what I'm doing? My kids are pretty understanding when I let them in on what is going on. For all they know, I'm surfing the web, not figuring out how to manage the money to make sure I can go to the store and get groceries.
- Have I laid out my expectations? I've found that the times when I tell the kids what I'm doing and lay out what I expect from them while I'm trying to accomplish this task, they are much more compliant, and all I have to do is issue a reminder if things get out of hand.
- What do the outward actions of my heart look and sound like? Am I exemplifying the fruits of the Spirit I have been teaching my children about? Am I sharing the love and grace that God shows me?
One more example that really put things in perspective for me happened just the other day.
I was frantically trying to finish up a writing job with a quickly approaching deadline. Writing with my Colony around is hard enough. Add in the times that my kids actually NEED something from me, and attitudes can go downhill pretty quickly. I could feel my heart rate picking up pace as the questions started coming from my 5-year-old. He's the one who always wants to know the in's and out's of how everything works. But then he asked me, “Mom, I STILL don't know how God created the world.”
Now, if that doesn't stop a mama in her tracks, nothing will!
I quickly began going through my checklist of questions and decided that my writing could wait. It was time to get in the garden and plant some seeds. After about 20 minutes of verse-by-verse explanations of Genesis 1, we made it through the Bible's account of creation, how the planets orbit, and how all creation submits to God, which naturally led to human free will.
Sure, most of it went over his head, but I was willing to stop and make the best of that little interruption and explain the millions of questions to the best of my ability, even when my answer was sometimes, “I don't know.”
Don't miss those key moments to cultivate the little hearts around you just because you are on a deadline. Let them know when you can sit down and talk if it can't be right then. Show them you care by the way you respond to those little interruptions called children.
“Let the children alone. Don't prevent them from coming to me.
God's kingdom is made up of people like these.”