The saying goes, “Be careful what you ask for, you just might get it.” At the time though, I figured whatever “IT” was would be a simple application. I didn’t realize my assignment would reveal a side of me that I could not see.
You see, my family and I are very active in the community and within our volunteer ministries at church. However, the past few months I haven’t felt motivated to do much of anything! Through the years, I’ve learned that when I feel complacent in a certain area of my life, it’s time for me to make some adjustments.
My first step: I joined a four-week leadership course at church. Each week, we discussed specific content that was designed to challenge me as a leader within my circle of influence. One particular assignment involved me being open to receive feedback.
I was supposed to ask someone at home for honest feedback about myself.
Just for kicks and giggles (AND because I didn’t want to ask my husband), I decided to ask my 10 year old daughter. I honestly couldn’t imagine what she would possibly say.
I’ve been teaching my daughter the importance of having integrity by telling the truth. However, after getting the hang of the lesson, she started using “integrity” as an excuse to avoid the “manners filter” during conversations. More than once, while dropping my kids off to visit their grandmother, my sweet angel has taken it upon herself to blurt out some embarrassing truth about me. OR (my favorite), she’ll ask a question I’d rather not answer at that moment, knowing that I, too, need to be honest in my responses.
My Mom: “What are you up to today?”
Me: “Not too much. Just gonna get some rest, maybe read a book or something.”
Aliyah: “No Mommy, you said you’re going grocery shopping, doing laundry, washing the dishes, getting the dog groomed, and cleaning your bathroom. I don’t think you’ll have time to rest or read a book before picking us up!”
Needless to say, I knew she’d be real with me, come what may.
So, one day early in the week, I asked her, “What could I do better as a Mommy? What are some things that Mommy could work on?” Surprisingly, she did not have a quick retort.
“Ummm, I don’t know,” she said, “You do a lot of things well.” Gold star for you sweet lady!
Beaming from ear to ear, I thanked her for the compliment. However, I encouraged her to take some time to think about it over the next few days. She smiled and agreed.
A few days went by, and it was almost time for me to submit my assignment. I asked my daughter again, but this time her response was a bit different.
“Mommy, you could be a little less angry at June.”
I was stunned. Not upset, just…stunned. “You’ve been yelling at her when she gets upset. You also yell at the dogs too,” she added. My wheels were turning…I knew she was right.
“Does Mommy seem angry all the time?” I asked.
“Not… all the time. But you could be LESS angry,” she clarified.
This is something that I’ve discussed with my husband before, but brushed aside because I was “fine”. At least, that’s what I desperately wanted to believe. The truth was, when I WASN’T smiling, I was yelling. My daughter noticed something was wrong.
My heart stung because she knew her mom was struggling mentally and emotionally. This was my daughter saying, “MOMMY, I SEE YOU.” I was not coping as well as I’d thought, and it was obvious to everyone but me.
Though she saw her Mommy as being angry frequently, she didn’t know what it was. I did.
I make no secret of the fact that I’ve struggled with depression for years. However, it was easier to make sure I got the self-care I needed before life became overwhelmingly busy with our new baby.
The reality is, I haven’t seen a counselor in over a year. I haven’t been part of a small group where I could open up about life. Yes, I have a few friends that I confide in, but it seemed like we were all going through difficult seasons in life. I was so concerned with providing comfort and encouragement to them, I neglected my own well-being.
Something needed to change. I asked for honest feedback; now I have to (get to?) decide what to do with it.
Have you ever asked your kids what you could do betteR? What do you think they would say?