Three weeks into the new school year and already aware of the morning angst chasing us out the door on time. It's a challenge with all these little people, all going their own pace, with their own personalities in tow. Here's a picture of how my three wake up over here:
The day's not yet finished and one child's already asking me how I'll wake him in the morrow. "With tickles on my back? Music? The smell of bacon?" I smile and say, "We'll see." Once he's asleep I write him a note and sneak it next to him on his pillow. It reads,
Another gets up and ready early, dressing himself with happy confidence. He comes into our room while we're still in bed. And as we roll over he smiles, knowing we're going to say,
Look how handsome you are!
Their brother, however, is still splayed across his bed, with only his head under the heavy blanket. Breakfast is on the table now and we're running out of morning moments before we leave for school. So I rub his belly vigorously and sing,
Time to wakey-shakey!
He grunts as I slip on his school clothes, moving quickly before he's coherent enough to argue with the day ahead.
Three boys, three different personalities, three differing needs from son-rise to son-set. I'm learning to help them into each new day in the unique way each boy needs. One with a thoughtful greeting, another with praise for his independent nature, and the third with a little more help than the others require.
It's easy to nag the one who wakes up slow. When frustration is rising and minutes are ticking by. But nagging is a terrible way to start each day. For the one being nagged, the one nagging, and the others who have to endure the sound.
I confess that I tried for a couple of years to teach them to all be the same in the morning hours. To get up and get dressed, make their beds and come to the table ready for life. Making sure they knew what was expected of them and having natural consequences waiting for them when they didn't get it right. But I found that day after day at least one of them failed miserably. And each morning started with the LAW; me laying it down, and him falling short.
I can't tell you exactly how it changed, except to say Grace took over. This Mama with a heart to love, the one who'd become a judge, asked Gentleness to take our mornings back. Because the law and the consequences of failing perfection had worn us all out. It had worn me out.
I've no doubt that parenting experts would tell me I still need age appropriate expectations of this child. And they're right. I must train each one to master their morning hours; getting dressed and making their own beds, and brushing their teeth without multiple reminders each day. But I'm choosing to help them with the silent guidance of my hand, and an occasional smoothing of their blankets as they put their PJs in the hamper and pull up their socks.
They have dishes to clear, and backpacks to grab and kisses to snag in the span of minutes. And always a blessing from mom as we pile into the car. But I tell you how wrong the kisses and prayers felt on the days that LAW ruled our mornings. I felt bi-polor and not to be trusted. Criticizing my way through the rush, then slowing down and praying God's Name over them.
It dawned on me how turned off to God I'd be if I were that child, slow moving and distracted; if all I ever heard was my mother griping about my imperfections, then in a sacred instant hearing her pray for me and tell me how much God loves me. No thank you.
So I'm giving way to Grace, because she's a much better picture of the God who loves my children - though my natural tendency is still to focus on the law. But Grace is changing me and flipping our mornings right-side-up. And as my heart flip-flops to look more like His Gospel Love, my children soften to the kisses and the blessings. And that is my utmost desire, above children who come quickly to the breakfast table, remembering their underwear under their shorts, and their lunchbox in their backpack.
That Grace would beget faith.
The softest skin and the messiest hair,
I stroke them both, so aware
He's growing under grace.
But in truth it wasn't always this way
I used to judge each morning away,
at a hurried stressful pace.
The law he couldn't keep, it's true,
though I posted them on my forehead too
and preached them to his face.
Dolling out the constant shame
of all his faults, he was to blame,
I put him in his place.
Then God's own Spirit let me see,
How much my son was so like me,
In desperate need of grace.
(For the son who moves slow in the mornings)
Hungry for more application? Read on here.