Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Day 24: Don't Screw it Up!

I will choose to find a positive perspective under even the most negative circumstances.
I will choose acceptance over resistance.
I will choose to focus on the things I value about my children, not the things that drive me nuts.
I will choose to extend the same grace, love and forgiveness to myself that I try to lavish on my husband and children each day.

There's a reason Mom is the topic of discussion on every therapy couch (and by the way, if I thought the couch really existed, I would start therapy just to get a break and take a nap!). As a mother, I am the most influential person in the lives of my children. That's a pretty huge responsibility, one that I take very seriously. Maybe too seriously...

It's true that the way I communicate with them and others will be their model for communication in every relationship to come. Yes, what I show and teach them about self-respect and self-worth will be the foundation of their own self-image someday. Of course, the way I feed them will form the basis for their future nutritional choices. No question, the way they see me manage emotions will provide the blueprint for what they do with their own emotions. Without a doubt, the values I show them will be the building blocks of their integrity. And why wouldn't the way I discipline them shape the way they interact with the world and even parent their own children some day? For better or worse, I am the most significant influence in their lives present and future.

All of these things and many more add up, and I start to feel pressure, immense pressure, to perform perfectly or else. Because if I don't, I'll "screw them up," right? Well, yes, if you consider the fact that we're all screwed up! But not quite, when you look around and see capable and compassionate adults from homes that were anything but perfect. I'm lucky that Dad, an almost equal second in the race for life-altering influence, makes up for my shortcomings. But even that isn't the reason I won't screw them up.

My children didn't come to me as blank slates. Nor did they arrive as shapeless mounds of clay to be molded into any form I please. They came to me as whole human beings, with personalities and temperaments already in place. They are malleable, not mutable. Whatever influences come their way, who they are at the core will remain unchanged. What a relief!

So instead of seeing myself as "the shaper of small people", I should call myself "the setter of small persons' defaults." This job is of equal significance, but with consequences less grave. The shaper is responsible for inputting all data, thus everything that comes out is a result of what she put in. The setter simply works on the system already in place. The product is already complete, but capable of accepting downgrades or improvements. I give tools, model values to the best of my ability, and leave the rest to the God who created them and placed them in my care.

Some of my defaults are obstacles, others are blessings. Either way I have a choice every day to live out who I was created to be or who my defaults say I am. My children will have the same choice; the same opportunity to improve on the things I've modeled and taught them. I'm an imperfect influence, but they know they're loved and cherished. Everything beyond that is a bonus.

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