Some of you who follow my blog know by now how I struggle with juggling too many things. I struggle with time, and allocating appropriate amounts of time to the things I value and have responsibility over. One of those things is parenting.
It may be surprising or alarming, but I don’t consider myself a good parent. I wrote in my post I DON’T WANT EVERYTHING how I don’t want my career to compete with my mothering. Well, there’s been another competitor, and that’s been my ‘ministry’ through blogging. The message I’ve been passing to my child through the use of my time is that I DON’T WANT YOU, because he gets the least of my attention.
Since I decided to have a stay-over nanny in January, I’ve pretty much given in to my tendency to work all day, right up to his bed-time. I let my nanny clock out from 8pm, so I can get him ready for bed and tuck him in, but that doesn’t leave much time for playing with him before he sleeps. He often comes to me to drag me from my laptop or phone to play with him or to carry him, and usually, whenever he comes, I resist him, because I have a thought I am trying to finish…I’m in the middle of something, and he is disturbing me.
He has taken to throwing things for fun, and that’s how he broke our TV in February, and my phone about the same time. I find myself shouting at him a lot, because he doesn’t answer me when I speak normally to him. He has even learnt to ignore my shouting too.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s not that I don’t spend anytime with him at all. I still change his diapers and feed him, and play with him. But I know that I should be giving him more of my attention, and I know that he is behaving this way because he is starved of attention and training from me. And sometimes I wonder, if this were to keep up, would he ever believe that I am a Christian, and that all the while I was neglecting his needs, I was supposedly ministering to others?
We’ve been trying to potty train him for a while now, and though he happily uses the potty in school, he refuses to use it at home! That’s been frustrating. The other day I found myself shouting at him again for pooing and weeing on the sofa, when he knew he could have used his potty. The feelings in me at that time were far from love, and I questioned my own Christianity. How could I be failing to love someone who should be the easiest to love?
I prayed about it, and asked God why my son wasn’t responding to me whenever I told him what to do. What I received from God was that he doesn’t know my voice, he doesn’t know me. The only voice he is familiar with is my shouting voice, which he gets in response to his provocative actions of trying to get my attention by doing naughty things. He is not familiar with me laughing and playing and talking gently and regularly with him without shouting, so he doesn’t really know when I am seriously upset.
When we have a relationship with someone and they are upset, we are also unhappy, because we don’t want them to be upset, and we will take them seriously when they say to stop doing what makes them upset. But if you don’t have such a relationship, you get your pleasure and attention from winding up the person. It’s a bad feed, bad cycle. And I was the one in control…still. If I don’t seize the opportunity to change my communication with him, I will soon loose whatever control I have of the situation.
So yesterday, I started a new regime, and I pray to God to sustain it. From 6pm to 9pm, when Jason’s back from school and I should also be done with my work, my data goes off. This way I am not disturbed by notifications and messages on my social media, and I can fully focus on being present with him and enjoying our relationship. My data will be off until I’ve tucked my baby to sleep, and then I can either get back online or get some rest myself.
It’s going to be hard, and I know that I might need to wake up much earlier to do some of the things I have been doing at home, at that crucial time when he is awake and in need of my attention. But I know that I will soon settle into a pattern that will be healthy for my family, and still enable me to continue with my passionate ministry. However, my family must be my first and primary place of ministry! Like the saying goes, charity must begin at home!
It is interesting that it was also yesterday that I read 1 Timothy 3 about Bishops and Deacons. The emphasis was laid on them first having their house in order before they can engage in ministry to others. And then an episode of PJ Masks, which I watched with my baby last night, also drummed home the lesson. Owlet had a pet bird, and she wasn’t looking after the bird, and the bird was starting to misbehave. The lesson at the end was that pets are not just for fun, they are a responsibility. Go figure!
Anyway, I am sharing this on my blog because, before it became ‘my ministry’, it was ‘my therapy’ and served as the writing on the wall. I am not saying these things for anyone else’s benefit but mine, but if you get something from my experience, praise God! I also wanted you to know about this change in my life, in case you make a comment on my post and it’s hanging for three or more hours without being approved. It’s likely I’ve switched off my data, so don’t take it personal. Family comes first 🙂
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