Will your kids listen to your advice OR follow your example?

“Children won’t listen to your advice – they will follow your example.”

I’ve heard this before and when I hear this, I feel like it perfectly applies to my healthy lifestyle that I try to follow most days.

But what about when it comes to what I say?

The words that come out of my mouth can be uplifting or destructive.

And lately, I’m embarrassed to admit which one they have been.

One of my small groups is currently discussing the book of James and this past week we talked about taming our tongues.

James 3:9-12 “With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be. Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring? My brothers and sisters, can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water.”

The phrases out of my mouth lately have started with:

“DON’T!”

“NO”

“STOP”

Those just shout “encouragement”, don’t they?

toddlertantrum

My little three year old picks up on every single thing I do and say. So it should come as no surprise that this is what has come out of HER mouth this week:

“MOM – STOP SHOUTING AT ME”

“Mom – I heard you the first time. You don’t have to say it 8 times”

“Emerson, it’s hard being a one year old sometimes, isn’t it?!”

“You just worry about yourself and I’ll worry about myself.”

“We’re doing Emerson and Ainsley stuff over here while you have your quiet time.  You didn’t have enough quiet time yet so you need some more.”

Sometimes when toddlers talk, it’s hilarious. Sometimes, it’s eye-opening.

toddlertroubles

They are brutally honest. They have no filter. They say what they think and they truly believe what they say. So while I laughed about some of the things she said above, some of them made me want to cry.

I started to shut down and realize exactly where she picked up those phrases.

The tone she uses, the phrases she says, the thoughts she has – they’re coming from me.

I have to be on my guard every single day. Every single hour. Every single word out of my mouth needs to be guarded.

I can’t sing worship songs in the car with her one minute and then snap and shout at her the next.

How can I expect her to say her prayers in bed at night and ask God to help her make better choices when I am not willing to change myself?

We cannot both praise the Father with our words and then turn around and scream and shout at our children.

When I want her to follow my example, it needs to be in everything I do.

The outward flow from my mouth is a reflection of the condition of my heart and right now it has not been pretty.  It’s not a beautiful, perfect, red shaped pretty heart.  It is blackened, cracked and fragmented. I’m not giving God, Brad or my children my best thoughts and words.

It’s not something that I can easily change overnight and it is something that I will never be perfect with, but it is something I can pray about. I can ask for help and patience (eek) and support through this situation.

You see, our children will learn from someone.  Yes, we all have innate behaviors that we are born with.  Disobedience is already being displayed hourly in our 18-month old. But so much of what we do is learned behavior as well.

So if I want them to be positive women that care for others, I have to show that too.

If I want them to eat vegetables, I have to eat them too.  I can’t expect them to chow down on greens if all I ever eat are brownies or ice cream.

If I desire for them to have a healthy outlook when it  comes to their body image, I have to model that for them, too. If all my girls see is me yelling at the scale or throwing everything around in my closet because nothing fits, they will follow suit.

If I want them to use their words to praise and encourage others, I need to do the same.

If my girls will become women who share Christ’s love with others and care for the orphans and widows of this world, I need to walk the walk AND talk the talk.  It can’t just be one or the other.

The phrases I want to continue to hear from Ainsley include:

“Look at those BEAUTIFUL pink trees!”

“Mommy, I love you!”

“I like your ______” (fill in the blank with necklace, earrings, shirt, shoes, dress, etc – this girl is good at dishing out the compliments!)

“This food is DE-LISH-OUS. Thank you for making it, Mommy!”

It’s not all bad – don’t get me wrong. But there is plenty of work for me to do while their little eyes are watching and their little ears are listening.  So I will continue to focus on praising the good and disciplining the bad choices with a HAPPY heart.

sleepingtoddler

One of our mentors said they always told their children they wanted them to be obedient – not compliant.  They used the phrase to listen and obey “right away, ALL the way, and with a happy heart”.  I’ve been using it with Ainsley for a few weeks now and I’m surprised she hasn’t snapped back at me that I need to have a happy heart too.  It’s time, though, and I am ready to start applying this truth to my life as well!

If you don’t intentionally pour into your children and set an example, someone else will, and it may not be an example you wish for them to follow.

What do you find yourself doing to tame your tongue in front of your children?

Consider it JOY

This verse from James keeps rearing it’s ugly head lately…

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials…”

I’m sorry. You want me to be joyful when I’m in the midst of a trial? This is how it has played out in my head today:

Threenager is being so disobedient, she’s been sent to her room three times already. Before 7am.

JOY.

Mama just wants to potty by herself, but can’t keep those pesky toddlers away.

JOY.

toddlers

Someone wants to pour that precious and expensive organic whole milk all by herself “because I’m a big girl!”, and it spills all over the floor.

JOY.

Butt wiping. JOY. Using the Nose Frida to suck boogers out of your toddler’s nose. JOY. Cleaning the floors for the umpteenth time. JOY.

When she falls and gets hurt after during the same thing you told her NOT to do eighteen times already.

toddler troubles

She says she wants blueberry pancakes. Then chocolate. No blueberry. No chocolate. No…

Locking the bathroom door because one girl likes to use the potty as a water table. Unlocking because one has to go potty. Locking again because of water table experiment. Unlocking for potty.

Four loads of laundry down and a new one is almost ready to go.

JOY. JOY. JOY. JOY.

You know that song “I’ve got the joy, joy, joy, joy down in my heart. WHERE? Down in my heart to stay. And I’m so happy, so very happy…”

Yeah. Not buying it.

My name Hilary means cheerful. But there are many days that I have laughed at what a joke that is.

Cheerfulness doesn’t come easy to me.

Joy in the day to day life isn’t second nature.

I digress.

I’m learning a lot about choosing joy.

We all have choices each day. I can see each of those events as frustrations. They are trials preventing me from what I really want to do. They are setbacks. They are moments that anger me.

Or I could look at them from another direction: We have food. We have toys. We have running water. We have a beautiful home. Our girls are happy. Our girls are learning. They are growing. They laugh and smile and jump and play.

They find joy in the smallest things.

toddler workouts
So back to that verse: “consider it pure joy when you experience trials”.Trials are a part of life. They aren’t always a punishment for making bad choices.

They are given to us to build our character. To see how we react. To encourage us to rely on God. To draw closer to Him. To use His strength to get through them. To pray in the difficult moments. To pray in the happy moments. To be grateful for His faithfulness.

Now I’m not singing “Hallelujah” every time one of my girls tests me or I stand face to face in a trial. But I’m learning to count it ALL joy. And today, I’ve needed a lot more hands than I have to keep count of all the joy in my life.

toddler snuggles

Things I Never Knew Until I Had A Three Year Old

During the first year or two in my tenure as a stay at home mama, I felt as though I was done learning anything of SIGNIFICANT value, as my life was being ruled by mini dictators who said “Eh! Eh! Eh!” and pointed to tell me what they needed.

These little boss babies OWNED me and my day to day tasks revolved around whatever they needed at that moment (and waiting longer than that moment would always result in screams and tears).

Then those babies started growing up and I have a three year old and a one year old.

toddler girls

And now I’ve realized that I can learn many valuable things as a stay at home mama, such as:

  • The number of fire hydrants that are on our two-mile loop we take in the neighborhood each day (spoiler alert – 17)
  • Stickers have the same adhesive as bandaids and can cure anything
  • Sass and disobedience are NATURAL behaviors – they don’t even have to learn them
  • Toddlers don’t stop talking. Ever. “Do you want milk? It’s SOOO good. It’s delicious. Who wants milk? Mommy? Emerson? Ainsley? I do! Okay I’m gonna go get it bye byeeeeee.”
  • Advent calendars are just a game – see how quickly you can open the 24 squares.  There is no need just do one a day! Be a WINNER and get them all within 10 minutes!

threenager

  • That you are incapable of walking at ALL if you have any type of injury on the upper half of your body (including a bump on your head, a shot on your arm, or a belly ache)
  • There is no filter.  There is a library being built by our house and we passed by and she said, “Oh no mommy! Some men are working on my library, but that man is not! He’s just sitting down and looking at his phone!” #nevermissabeat
  • Sensitivity.  Did something rip? Waterworks.  Blue fork instead of green fork? Tears streaming down their face.  PB&J cut in triangles and not squares? #worldwar3
  • Every move you make is watched – and even on the hardest, most difficult days, when they say something like “When I grow up, I want to be a mommy. And can I have a baby in my belly when I’m a mommy?” – it just melts your heart to see the innocence they have and the love they share for you and all you do for them.

 

threenager

I know I’m not the only one with a sweet, wild, sassy, button-pushing #threenager.  So go ahead, share with me what you have learned now that you have a three year old!

And if you have younger ones, just remember – what goes around comes around – and soon enough, you’ll have another threenager in training! And yes, that’s an old wet diaper in her hand that she decided to open back up. (Thanks to my sweet friend and client Darla for these precious shirts with your Louisiana flair!!!)

threenager in training

To My Second Born on The Eve Of Your First Birthday

To My Second Born on The Eve Of Your First Birthday,

It’s hard to believe that this day last year, Daddy and I got in bed for the night, only to not sleep a wink as I then had my first contraction and within twelve hours, you were in our arms. The newborn days of no sleep and running on empty seem like they were years ago and you are now a true toddler running around all day long.

I am sorry I haven’t been able to give you my undivided attention like I could for your big sister. We won’t ever quite know what that’s like but I know we will enjoy our moments with just the two of us when she starts preschool next week.

I am so grateful you have been so go-with-the-flow since day one. Thank you for enduring cat naps in the car instead of a precious scheduled morning nap like your sister used to get. Your flexibility to adapt will be a wonderful quality to keep as you grow older.

14063985_1842889105932364_5897163310813909018_n

 

I am sorry for getting frustrated when you just want your mama and I just want a break. You are my first mama’s girl and while it is hard to feel needed all the time, seeing tears instantly stop or feeling your head snuggle on my shoulder when I come around is worth it all. I hope you always have a desire to be close to me and never stop wanting to have me be an integral part of your life.

Thank you for having patience with me while I learned to navigate life as a mama of two. It was not a seamless transition and I am such a flawed woman but you see past that and love me no matter what, just as God does, too.

I appreciate your willingness to wear hand-me-downs 75% of the time and matching dresses with your sister the other quarter of your days.

I never imagined we would have a blonde haired, blue eyed babe, but we are so grateful you are ours.

We pray you grow to know Christ at a young age and that you share His love with all those you encounter. Keep on smiling and shining! We look forward to watching you grow into your own personality in the years to come.

Love,
Your Proud Mama

*This was originally written on August 24th, 2015.