One of my favorite mother-daughter moments is to enjoy a bowl of ice cream on the back porch together. We talk. We laugh. We indulge with an extra scoop. It’s a time for connection to her heart and mind.
Just like most adult conversations these days, our ice cream dates bring the realities of anxiety, frustration and negative emotions.
“Mommy, I miss it being just you.”
The change: In November, our family of two grew to a family of six.
She went from a major stakeholder in decisions like what’s for dinner to one vote in a democracy. She got 100 percent of my attention for nine years and now has 16.6 percent depending on what family members are in our home that day of the week. To her, she doesn’t like me sharing my time or attention with others, especially my spouse.
Mommy, I don’t know what I need to know for fourth grade.
The change: Traditional school ended abruptly with eight weeks of remote learning.
She went from a high engagement classroom environment to eight weeks of remote learning. She missed the daily affirmations from her teacher and the smiley faces on her homework assignments. To her, she didn’t learn what she needs to know to succeed in the next grade; she is going to fail.
Mommy, I have no friends.
The change: No social events, play dates and extracurricular activities means no one likes me.
She lost her daily interactions with classmates. She missed meeting new friends at summer day camps. To her, she is left out and excluded from the “fun” that her friends are having and no one is inviting me because no one likes me.
As I listened to her three heartaches and reflected on her stubborn actions and behaviors of the past week, it hit me that her world feels out of control. She is so consumed by control that she cannot see the blessings.
Don’t we all get consumed by control that we cannot see the blessings? How do we shift our mindset from control to celebration?
First, seek the blessings. Control often breeds negativity. It paralyzes us for seeking the positives and blessings because it is not what we thought or wanted the circumstances to be. Our expectations were shot, so we seek control. The truth is that life brings us blessings even in the toughest life circumstances. We just have to stop and look for them. The blessings can be big or small, obvious or cloudy, severe or moderate. No matter what they are there! Seek and you shall find the blessings, always.
Second, use love-filled words and actions. Our first line of defense for control is through our words and actions. Unfortunately, if we are not careful, emotions overcome control leading to unhealthy words or unproductive actions. A simple “no I won’t go with you” implies rejection to a newly formed relationship. A passive or lack response to a heartfelt text or email implies that you don’t respect or care about the other person. The power of tongue should be fruitful and helpful. The power of actions should be with a servant heart.
Third, choose to change. When we resist change, it is like stepping into wet concrete. We are stuck while the world around us spins into choas and destruction. Our circumstances become our enemy rather than a life partner. We can control the choice of change. We can embrace it with the reward of positive and forward movement.
One of the few constants in life is change. We have an important role in teaching our children the importance of navigating change and using it for good in all circumstances. Seek the blessings. Use love-filled words and actions. Choose to change.