Currently, my husband and I live in a house with three teenagers, ages 13 to 17. Our 20-year-old is away at school, but we still count her in the same category, only one year past teen. This morning before school, not one of my children came downstairs singing a song, dancing through the kitchen, or kissing and hugging their mom.
Every one of my children dragged themselves down at the last possible minute. All of them forgot at least three things, and each time had to lug themselves back up the stairs for the forgotten items. They barely spoke even the slightest painful morning syllables. They could barely open their mouths to put in morsels of breakfast, as though each bite were so heavy their arm might surely break. Ten minutes past time to go, they piled on the backpacks, gathered their gym bags, took the rest of their uneaten breakfast, and somehow made it out to the car so they could fall back asleep while they were luxuriously driven to school in a heated car with soft music.
If my children were allowed to set the tone for our home, we’d be a bunch of droopy-eyed, slow-moving, barely thinking, ever-forgetful, lethargic, disinterested poops. But here’s the deal—I decided a long time ago that my kids don’t set the tone for our home. I do. My husband does. But not the moody, hormonal, sluggish, yet-to-be consistent people.
Sometimes moms forget that we are in charge! We set the tone. We chart the course. We turn the ship, even though slowly some days. I wake up happy. Really. Just flat-out happy, ready to talk, excited to be here. Finally, I have realized that morning happiness can be obnoxious to the slow-waking, so I have tried to tone it down a bit through the years. But I refuse to let the barely breathing rule my house or set the tone for my family. Even if I am in the minority some days, I’m still in charge of this thing, and on behalf of the people I love, who cannot yet think clearly for themselves, I am choosing joy!
I choose joy in the mornings. And after school. And when they have friends over. And at their ball games. And in the hallways at church. And when I’m pulling in at carpool. I love to call them sweet nicknames, of which I have hundreds, so I do. I love to kiss them and hug them, so I do. I honk the horn and wave like I mean it. Eye-rolling does not dissuade me. Unreturned hugs on the sidewalk at school do not discourage me.
This morning I greeted all the sleepyheads with smiles and hugs and kisses. I threw in a little dancing before they left just so they’d smile on the inside even though their stubborn morning fog refused to let their faces give in on the outside. I don’t know if anyone is keeping score, but one thing I know for sure, I’m winning on this one. I love my kids, but they don’t run this place. They are allowed to move slowly and act sleepy and generally approach life like a teenager, but I will not allow the beautiful spirit of our home to be diminished on the days when they “don’t feel it.”
Kids need their moms to set the tone. They need us to be consistent in countenance, especially because their developing bodies and minds are not. What better way to teach them about a spirit of joy than to weave that attribute through even the most mundane parts of our routine. To wake them with a tender joy, no matter what disappointment you may have felt the night before. To give them a joyful “do over” every single morning. To respond to them with a joyful tone. To begin our conversations with kindness and patience.
Today, if you decided to set the tone for your family, what one thing would you change? What one thing would you add? What adjustment would you make in your own heart?
Let’s be moms who create an atmosphere of joy for our families. The tone is ours to set. Ready, set, shine!
From 52 Things Kids Need from a Mom by Angela Thomas