Thursday, December 19, 2013

Showing or Telling?

"Preach the Gospel, and if necessary, use words." - St. Francis

This quote was in a recent profile of Pope Francis I read, and it has stuck with me for days now.

Preach the Gospel, and if necessary, use words.  Or: Live it, don't just say it. Show, don't tell.

Am I doing that, as a parent? I sure have been using lots of words lately. Loud ones, angry ones, frustrated, exasperated, had-it-up-to-here- ones.  I've also been trying out teaching words, and "lets all gather around the advent candles" words, and the 'true meaning of Christmas' words.

And I think what my children are hearing is Blah, Blah, Blah.

My son used to ask me why I didn't give to people who ask for money on the street. I didn't have the right words to explain to him then.

This Christmas season we sponsored a family in need. I bought a stranger and her children presents and wrapped them and sent them off.

My son asked me why we would do that. As in, how come you are buying presents for other people's kids!? (and not more for me, is left unsaid but implied.) Words failed me again, because I was so shocked that my normally generous son was talking so selfishly.

Then I remembered his pre-Christmas and pre-birthday stress. How he is convinced that we will not get him the presents that he wanted. That we will fail him. He does not trust us. He does not trust the world. Any why should he? The world failed him once before.

How many more years until he learns to trust again? Maybe only God knows...

It has been a hard Fall. I almost missed the signs of our pre-Christmas stress because of the months of buying-selling-packing-moving-unpacking-renovating stress.

My children have seen me lose my temper, pour too many glasses of wine, throw things in frustration (packing tape!) answer shortly, sigh loudly, cut corners (microwaved nachos for dinner again guys!) and in general, preach a gospel of be-quiet- this-is-all-too-hard-why-don't-you-just-hurry-up-and-go-to-bed-already!

Which is not really what I set out to do as a mother.

Christmas is coming, and the kids will open up a pile of presents and the house will get messier than ever. But then the New Year will arrive to. And with it, some space. Some time. Some blank pages on the calendar and an end to the renovations and the moving.  I will no longer need to spend 3 afternoons a week shopping at Home Depot or picking out tiles. (oh, thank Heaven!)

These days, it seems, that even more than a kitchen back I want myself back.  I want to preach the Gospel of "I love you kiddos".

And if necessary, I'll use words.

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