As school was winding down last month, my son, Mason, was cast in a local community theatre production. Rehearsals were three times a week, for three- and four hour-stretches. Additionally, he was still on the track team, with three practices and/or meets a week. And, of course, there was still homework.
Needless to say, he was burning the candle at both ends, and his face and attitude showed it. I appreciated that he had a lot on his plate, but the dark cloud he carried around was darkening us all. I was just about to call him on it when I looked in the mirror.
I've been writing for a while now about my rough transition back to work after 14 years of staying home with my kids. I've tried to be transparent about my mood swings, struggles, and bad parenting during it all. Regardless, no words could really capture it. Yet, Mason's attitude sure did.
It's humbling to see yourself reflected back in the mirror of your children. Seeing my attitude in Mason helped me realize I didn't role-model that struggle the way I wanted to.
Yes, it's important to show our kids that we flounder with new challenges. But then we're supposed to show them how to persevere and rise above, despite that. Unfortunately, my behavior taught my kids that when things get tough, we should whine, pout, and lash out at the world.
It was what it was, and I'm not going to beat myself up about it. However, I have chosen a new path.
Now, I'm doing what I can to show my kids that even in the midst of difficulty, joy still exists and life can be enjoyed because of it. I'm also trying to show them that when we're overwhelmed and empty, we can still be kind and patient with others.
Most of all, I'm trying to role-model surrendering it all to God. He's the only one in control anyway, and if we have any chance of getting through, it's through His help and guidance.
Words and the little life lessons we try to impart to our kids along the way are great. But it’s our example that speaks volumes. The next time my example is reflected back to me, I want to be proud of what I see.
Copyright 2019 Claire McGarry
About the Author
Claire McGarry is the author of the Lenten devotional "With Our Savior," published by Creative Communications for the Family/Bayard, Inc. and All is Blessing: Finding God in the Tensions of Life, to be published by Our Sunday Visitor in the fall of 2021. Her freelance work has appeared in various Chicken Soup for the Soul books, Focus on the Family magazine, Catechist magazine, These Days devotional, and Keys for Kids devotional. The founder of MOSAIC of Faith, a ministry with several different programs for mothers and children, she blogs at Shifting My Perspective.