It’d be nice if I could brag that I started each day with physical exercise but I’d be lying. I get physical exercise all day chasing after 39 kids and 14 grandchildren, cooking around here is aerobic.
I do seek out mental pump-it-ups each morning. I receive John Maxwell’s emails on leadership regularly and I soak them up eagerly.
I’m asked if I ever get discouraged since I seem to put on such a happy face. Sometimes I think the world is determined to slap that silly smile off my face as soon as possible so that makes a stubborn old goat like me all the more determined to keep grinning like a banshee.
But yes, after I pour myself so dramatically and constantly into each of my children, to have them ignore or reject me is a tad disheartening at times. One might then scold me for ‘living through my children’ but I’d simply rejoin with a response of living ‘for’ my children. If that seems too Stepford Wives or 1950s then I simply don’t care. Other people’s opinions shouldn’t hold me back.
I’ve learned in the last 50 something years that living for oneself is too confining and unrewarding, I’d never be happy, would always be seeking the next best thing, blowing in the wind like flapping sheets on a line. No thank you. I’d find that boring and unchallenging at best.
I’ve often banged my head figuratively against a cinder block wall and John Maxwell says
Plans fail, dreams drift out of range, or goals suffer setbacks. However, not every leader responds to discouragement the same way. Attitude dictates whether a discouraged leader will give up or get up.
I’ll never give up, but more importantly in our situation I need to convince my formerly traumatized children that I’ll never do so.
It’s not a doormat philosophy that no matter what is done to me; I’ll take a deep breath and let them do more of the same. It is correcting their behavior and loving them through their mistakes and faltering steps into a world in which they are ill-prepared to function normally through no fault of their own.
Dr. Martin Lloyd Jones, says this in his excellent work, Spiritual Depression, Its Cause and Cure:
“Most of your unhappiness in life is due to the fact that you are listening to yourself rather than talking to yourself.” Thoughts stream into our minds beyond our control. Instead of succumbing to whichever thoughts happen to pop into our heads, we can purposefully fix our minds on the positive.”
I buy this theory unconditionally. I fight the inner pity party with very positive, often impossible, thoughts. I run to my garden, flip soil with a spading fork, expend energy positively rather than break yet another dinner plate in anger, something I’ve caught myself doing at times, when frustration overtakes me. Not a good way to model anger management to children who watch me like a hawk.
I invariably cool off, come up with contingency plans, never doubting my role as Big Mama, and I try and explain it to whichever wayward kid I am dealing with at the moment.
Just as every leader gets discouraged, so every leader runs into problems. When facing problems, adjusting your attitude can be a precursor to adjusting your situation. Remember: change on the outside always follows the change on the inside.
I don’t think it’s arrogance to refer to us parent as leaders. That’s what we are and that should be the kind of children that we want to raise. We just have a harder time of it due to the circumstances involved in older child adoption.