What Halloween taught me about being an uptight mom

I'm sick in bed this morning with a bottle of Robitussin and a half used box of kleenex on my bedside table.  Last night, after the Halloween festivities had ended, the rain started to fall with a soothing cadence that carried me through a healing night's rest.  This morning our bedroom is flooded with silver light.  That's what happens when grey skies pass their color through glistening raindrops hugging windows.  Silver.  

There's something magical happening here in my sick room this morning.


The kids are playing contentedly in the family room, trading candies from last night's trick-or-treat bounty.  Since they've been told that they can't have any candy until after lunch, they're simply organizing their goodies into tantalizing piles and counting them over and over again.  Eventually the aroma will waft through their sensibilities and begging will ensue, but right now everyone is joy-filled and content.


Their play sounds like childhood heaven from where I'm sitting.


Did I mention that my Robitussin is prescription strength with a heavy dose of codeine added for pain relief?  Which, like those raindrops on my bedroom window, may be adding a little bit of sparkle to my mothering perspective this morning.  Whatever it takes!  So I'm indulging a bit in my silver-rimmed reality this morning.


All that said, I'm acutely aware of how the morning would be going if I were well right now.  Frantically gathering up pieces of last night's wrappers, discarded costumes and used -up glow sticks.  I'd be my typical uptight mom, eye-ing that one child suspiciously who likes to sneak off and pop a tutti-frutti prematurely into his happy little mouth and then cry when caught.  I'd be nagging him not to do that, and he'd be crying that he won't.  But instead I'm here in bed, listening to their nag-free, happy sounds.


Excuse me, I was swooning from the nausea there for a moment.  Maybe it was my sinus and double ear infection making me woozie, or maybe it was the confession I just punched out on the keyboard that I'm a bit of a nag.  I never was a controlling person... until I had three boys.  Then suddenly their noise and my feeling of being out-of-control spun me sideways and when I landed I started fighting for order, and quiet, and control.  But Halloween and this illness and that half-consumed bottle of cough syrup is giving me some fresh perspective this morning.


These past couple of days I've been too sick to control each of my children's moves and here's what I've learned:  They're OKAY!  And so am I.  Even when they were carving pumpkins on Thursday night, and they all wanted to wield knives at the same time - and I didn't have enough of a voice or the energy to holler my instructions.  Dad came to the table to join us and no one ended up in the hospital with slashed limbs or missing fingers.  We survived!   We survived without me barking orders.  And they survived with sweet memories.


And then as I stayed tucked in at home with a cup of tea while they went door to door with their dad and friends last night, I wasn't there to tell them when to stop eating candy, reminding them to look everyone in the eyes and say "thank you", and pick up their candy wrappers.  And they survived that too!  They survived!


And when it was time for bed, and faces were sticky and teeth sugar-coated, I used my soft voice usher my Ninja Turtle, Transformer, and Greaser to bed... without nagging and reminding and correcting.  And I didn't take their plastic pumpkins distrustfully to the kitchen counter-top either.  And they fell asleep without a fight because I didn't have the energy to tuck them in with a fight.  And they survived.  With three pounds of candy at the foot of each of their beds, they survived.


They did more than survive, in fact.  They enjoyed themselves and I enjoyed them too, even in the midst of my sore throat and fevered aches.  We enjoyed one another, because I wasn't their uptight mom, and they weren't my naughty kids.  I was simply mom, and they were simply kids.


This may have been our best Halloween yet.  Because this Halloween taught me how tightly wound I'd become as a mum!  No fun.  Sure, there's still training and correction and boundaries still needed as we guide these boys to manhood, but it's awful for them and awful for me if I come to those tasks each day with a nagging heart and nagging words, expecting wrong rather than anticipating right.  But today I have been blessed with this silver-rimmed reminder: My kids are simply delightful.  In fact, they are more delightful with no correction at all, than with an over abundance of it.


Glistening. Silver. New. Perspective.


The rain does that.  It washes things clean again.  And I am eager to be made new.


Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. (Palm 51:10)  Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me and know my anxious thoughts; And see if there be any hurtful way in me, And lead me in the everlasting way. (Psalm 139:23-24)