My husband has been out of town for four days.
No, four days doesn't sound like a lot - but, it is.
I would suck being a hunter's widow, that's for sure.
So, Dave wrote on the calendar "Dave's Gone" through the days he would be on his trip, and jokingly (but not really) I put "AKA Melissa Goes Insane."
Yes, I had high hopes for this week of single parenting as you can tell.
But, I'm here to report: We are ALL still alive. Not only are we all still alive, but the kids were actually really good...for the most part.
I implemented at the beginning of the week the marble motivator. He or she who earns the most marbles at the end of the week, gets to pick a fun family activity of their choice for everyone to do.
That my friends, has worked awesome. Marbles = Currency for a 4 year old. I give it two weeks of being fantastically effective...but I will take what I can get.
But on Wednesday we had a miracle day...maybe not miracle, but one in which I went "WOW! I am the one who sets the tone of our family..."
But then they went to sleep easily. And the baby slept all night long. And I got to throw away a bunch of crap that I have been putting off because I would rather sit on the couch with Dave at night then be productive. Wednesday morning came, and Mommy was re-energized (which doesn't happen all too often!)
So, that morning I gathered my kids together and told them I wanted to make them a promise. I promised, regardless of their behavior, that I would not yell that day. I promised that I would use my nice Mommy voice all day to the best of my ability because I wanted to have a good day and I really didn't like yelling. I promised my change in behavior to them without them needing to promise anything back. See, that morning I walked by the wall in our playroom that has had this gigantic five foot quote up for almost two years by Dr. Seuss, "You have brains in your head, you have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself in any direction you choose." And I realized, that regardless of their behavior, my behavior needed to emulate Jesus, maturity, and love. And for months now, I have been excusing my behavior as the effect of their choices. But Wednesday morning, I realized after reading that quote, that I needed to be the instigator of the behavior not the responder.
When I made my promise to the kids, Luke and Emma lit up. They were so excited that they were going to have a day without a grumpy mommy. So excited in fact, that they proceeded to promise to me, "Mommy, I promise to not be bad today." "Mommy, I promise to listen the first, or maybe the second time...but I won't make you say anything eleventeen times."
But in that moment, I knew that regardless of their end of the bargain, I would keep mine.
And I did.
At six o'clock, the baby had pulled the plug to the computer so many times that the computer had to restore itself (which sounded like a much bigger problem than it actually was) and I raised my voice...slightly. And my kids, who had been angels all day, looked at me with sad eyes and said, "You broke your promise."
I immediately dropped to my knees so I could look at them eye to eye and asked for forgiveness. And they were so excited to give it. I didn't excuse my behavior, I didn't blame them, I just took total responsibility and the kids were really responsive.
Then it was bed time. And the kids went down easily. And the baby slept all night. And I woke up re-energized...to Lily screaming. And I reacted. And our day was not wonderful like Wednesday...I was not intentional. I was not on the offensive, I was playing defense ALL.DAY.LONG.
So, lesson learned this week...Behavior motivators like marbles are awesome. But what's even more effective is a fulfilled promise of good behavior from Mommy.
And Dave comes home tonight...thank God.
This single parenting thing is for the birds...well, and the way stronger moms than me.