Embrace right now

Originally Appeared in : 9915-7/18/19

Our son Augie left for his summer mission trip a few days ago. He joined the other students in his class for a few weeks of serving with the Missionaries of Charity up in Jenkins, Kentucky. 


It’s a strange dynamic having Augie gone, and I probably need to get used to it. He’s heading into his senior year of high school, and I’ve learned from experience that this year is busy. He’ll be doing all kinds of fundraising activities as part of his class’s efforts for a senior trip to New York City in the spring. There will be sports and field trips and a whole host of other fun events that make this year special.


Which brings me to my front room and the no-good horrible time I was having recently with the last remaining two. That would be Henry and Isabel, our “littles” (as we still call them). Except they aren’t that little. Isabel starts fourth grade in the fall and Henry is going into middle school. That’s crazy.


And there we were, down to two children at home for a few weeks (not including my college guys who come and go on a completely different schedule, more on that later). Just two kids and they were driving each other (and me) totally crazy. It was really something to behold.


It went on for a few minutes and I won’t regale you with the play-by-play. But if you are a parent or have ever been around kids you know how amazing it can be. Someone decides he is annoyed, someone else decides she is as well, and there is no stopping it.


I absolutely hate those moments in motherhood when you feel like you can’t get on top of what’s going on. Maybe it’s the chaos in the house; maybe it’s not being able to get to the grocery store. Or perhaps it’s two siblings laser-focused on how obnoxious the other one is and no amount of redirection or threats or (occasionally) yelling can stop the squabbles.


Here’s where I want to take a little side jaunt, a kind of “note to self” for future reference. There was a season when this level of fighting was a daily affair. (I want to lie and say it wasn’t but it was.) I finally talked to a trusted friend who had already raised her children. She gave me a wonderful idea to already have a plan for when these fights would break out. I made a book full of “consequences” and every time one of the boys started causing problems, I would refer to my book with my plan already in place. “Non-stop arguing and you won’t respond to the sound of my voice? Time to clean the baseboards.” I had many options for all kinds of bad behavior. It was life changing.


So back to the argument between our littles. I realized it was time to come up with a book of consequences again. It had been a while since I needed to operate on that level. But also, in that moment, I needed to come up with a plan to diffuse the situation. 


“Sit down” I said it very firmly like the grown-up I was. I’m in charge of this scene dagnabbit, it’s time to remember that. (This last part I said to myself internally.) And then I told those two children we were going to say a decade of the rosary.


I braced myself for some pushback and ignored it. We said those 10 Hail Mary’s and then, when I saw how very much that had calmed us all down, we said another. By the end, we had said an entire rosary and the whole mood of the room had changed. Thank you Lord for that bit of wisdom.


I have a few takeaways from those exhausting few moments. One, as I mentioned, my consequence book needs to be dusted off. My season of using that was so fruitful and I was reminded of how helpful that approach really is.


Two, I’m the boss. Sometimes, when we are in the midst of tiring days, it’s an important reminder. If you are struggling like I was, let’s do this together. Walk over to the closest mirror. Stare at the woman looking back at you. (also, this works for dads so go for it, man.) Say to that person: “You are the boss.” And follow it up with: “These children are not in charge. You are. Just a reminder — you are doing great. Also, your hair looks amazing.”


FInally, I realized that the scene we are in is the scene we are in. The summers where I had six kids home with me were fun and wild and just as crazy. I spent some time (if I recall correctly) envying people who had fewer children to corral or perhaps not a pack of wild boys to manage. And here I am, having similar mom moments with one boy and one girl.


So there you go. Don’t waste time envying others. Embrace who you are and the scene you are in. And then pray God gives you the wisdom to love and guide these children in the way that works best for everyone.


Rachel Balducci is a wife and mother of six. She and her husband Paul are members of Most Holy Trinity Catholic Church in Augusta, GA. Her latest book, Make My Life Simple, is available on Amazon.

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