I have always loved being efficient. Doing something quickly and effectively gives me a thrill. Of course, my husband’s appreciation of my efficiency contributes to my satisfaction. And in general, my affection for efficiency is a good thing. But lately, I’ve realized that sometimes, prizing efficiency isn’t always best, especially when it conflicts with my loving and mothering.
A common scenario at our house finds me making dinner while the kids are playing together in the living room. Something is sizzling in the skillet and I’m chopping up stuff for a salad. Cedar gets a little too rough and starts throwing his toys, something he’s not allowed to do. I reprimand him from my spot in the kitchen because I don’t want to leave my efficient dinner preparations. He does it again, and this time I go into the living room and respond more sharply because I’m frustrated that he’s interrupted my efficiency. He responds to my frustration by whining and throwing himself on the floor, or maybe even throwing more toys. And things just go downhill from there.
But there’s another scenario, one that I’m trying to make the more customary of the two. When one of my littles disobeys, I try to push aside all thoughts of efficiency and “getting things done”. I try to take the time to go over to where she is at and kneel down to her level. I try to make him look at me and I talk to him in a calm voice and remind him again that he shouldn’t be throwing his toys. If she then disobeys again (which ends up happening much less frequently than when I brusquely reprimand them), there will be consequences, but neither of us get so frustrated.
Yes, it may take longer to deal with, and my efficiency will likely fall by the wayside. But in the long run, does it really matter if dinner a few minutes later than I said it would be? No, not compared to building my relationship with my little ones.
I know that as my littles grow, we’ll have different problems than just throwing toys. And I will need to continue to work on sacrificing my efficiency to relationship building. I will try, and I will fail. But if there’s one thing that I’ve learned in this whole parenting journey is that there’s always more grace. Grace for me to give my little ones, and grace for myself. Always more.