About a week ago my two girls and I attended a mother/daughter event with a dear friend and her sweet girl. After being delayed by an after school rehearsal, having our e-tickets vanish into e-mail cyberspace which resulted in us (o.k. really my husband aka tech support) having to research ways to print the tickets again, and getting stuck in stand-still traffic for one-half hour due to an accident, I was completely relieved and exhausted when we slipped into our seats just as the program was starting. The event was fun and engaging. And I was finally relaxing a bit just as intermission hit.
While waiting in the incredibly long bathroom line that always exists whenever five or more women are gathered, I noticed that there was a fun photo op. My friend said that she and her daughter had taken their pictures before the show. However, she that we should get one all together after the restroom break. I agreed. We finally made it through the potty line and then promptly got side-tracked at the merchandise table. Just as we were finished making our purchases, the music rose and the lights dimmed. We knew the event was getting ready to resume. At my friend's urging, we decided to take advantage of the fact that were all together and dressed in clothing nicer than our yoga pants to get the picture. Luckily, we ran into a friendly mom we recognized from our college days. She graciously agreed to snap our photo. My friend's cell phone battery was running low, so I whipped out my phone for the momentous occasion. Then, just as we were all posed, arranged, and smiling our brightest, I watched as my phone flipped out of our volunteer photographer's hands, spiraled a few times in the air, and then bounce crashed to the floor. To be truthful, I have accidentally dropped my phone dozens of times before. But somehow I knew in the pit of my stomach that something was different with this fall. As our apologetic, remorseful, would be photographer plucked my yellow phone off the floor, she expressed what I had intuitively known. My phone screen was completely shattered.
There are so many times in life when we are not prepared for a surprise situation when it arrives. And often when those unexpected circumstances hit us, we tend to respond with raw emotion. Or perhaps we generate an unplanned and somewhat automatic response. Amazingly (and not always normal for me!) this time was different. I remember actually thinking in the split second after my phone dropped, "Carla, your girls are watching you. This is your chance to show them what kindness and grace looks like in action." And so, I immediately put a calm smile on my face, and verbally assured our distraught and embarrassed phone dropper over and again that "accidents happen" and that "it was truly o.k. and not a big deal."
I managed to put my damaged phone gently and discreetly into my purse without dropping too many glass shards onto the ground. Then, I tried to rally our energy to gear up for the second half of the event. We did have fun. And I only peeked once (or maybe twice) to see if my poor battered phone still had any life left for the drive home.
After the event, we quickly left for our van since it was a school night and the hour was late. Once inside the closed doors, one of my daughters burst into tears. Indeed it was a long day. It was an hour past her typical, much needed, bedtime. But this daughter also tends to be extremely meticulous with her own "things" and takes pride in being responsible with them. She said she was crying because she felt so sad that my phone was broken and not able to be used anymore. But then she said something that made my heart swell. She said, "Mommy, you were so nice to that lady. You didn't even act like it bothered you at all." And I briefly made a statement about how people - and especially my children - were way more important to me than things. And, for one small brief moment, I was elated. I had achieved a mommy all-star moment! I managed to demonstrate to my girls a godly, positive response in a stressful, chaotic situation. But, my glory was very short lived. How quickly we are often humbled! For out of the backseat spoke my second daughter. This is the child of whom you slightly tremble when anything breakable is in her hands, the one who is so full of sunshine that she sometimes lives in space, the one who is as honest and truthful as they come. Pipes the sweet voice from daughter number two in the backseat, "Mommy, if it was us, I don't think you would have been as nice."
In my heart where moments ago there was a swelling of pride...there was an immediate stab of sadness and sorrow. Because I knew that she was probably right. And at that moment, my cracked and broken phone gave me the best call I had ever received. It gave me a wake-up call. I was reminded that little people are still people. They deserve the same grace (dare I say even more grace) than I would offer an acquaintance or stranger. Responding intentionally to those outside my home is important. But it's more important that I show the children in my home the same intentional acceptance, forgiveness and grace.
What about you? Where can you show intentional grace today?
This is the newsletter section where I share tips or strategies from One Intentional Mom to another. These are time savers, guilt relievers, helpful tools, and some good old fashioned mama sense. If you have a tip to share, please e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I would love to hear from you!! :)
Tip of the Month:
The holidays are right around the corner. This season can bring additional work and expectations for moms. Here are five simple ways to take care of YOU during the holidays.
1) Get plenty of sleep. Select one (or at the most two) nights per week to stay up doing holiday tasks. Ensure the other nights you get plenty of sleep. This will help you stay healthy and rested to face and enjoy the season.
2) Strategically eliminate something from your "to do" list. Hire a cleaning company to come to your home before hosting an event. Order desserts from your favorite restaurant rather than doing all the baking yourself, or simply make a double batch of one dessert and swap with a friend who did the same in order to have more variety.
3) Schedule a few minutes each day to relax. Even if it's only 10 minutes, taking time to unwind is important. Go for a walk, talk to a friend on the phone, read a book, or take a quick nap. This time will replenish your energy and reduce stress. You will be more efficient and calm afterwards.
4) Pick one meaningful activity for your family to do during holiday season and stick with it. Sometimes during hectic and harried times it can be easy to shift to "surviving" and not living intentionally. Last year my family focused on gratitude during the month of November (November 2015 Newsletter) and memorized a Bible verse about it. Some moms do an advent calendar with their children during December. By focusing efforts on one strategic area repeatedly, you can be assured that you are mothering intentionally which eliminates guilt.
5) Do something fun! Yes, the Children's Museum, Christmas at the zoo, and breakfast with Santa can be fun for kids and moms. But, also put something in your calendar during the next few months that is just for you - something that you find fun. Do you enjoy curling up at a coffeehouse with a good book and hot drink for a few hours all alone, shopping with a friend, or even a bubble bath? Schedule something in your calendar that is just for you in the next few weeks to refuel and get energized.
I help women confidently navigate life during the season of motherhood. Shift from "reacting" to purposefully leading your life - which eliminates overwhelm and guilt and brings joy, satisfaction and fulfillment.