That’s Not My Monster!

We have a well-enjoyed book with this same title. It’s a touch-and-feel book with bobbly noses and fuzzy ears. The friendliest monsters you’d ever wish to see under your bed. But the ones nipping at my heels are not always friendly.

One is lurking in the bathroom – the Pee-Pee Monster. It was garbage day recently. When I grabbed the small trash can from the main bathroom, I was pretty sure I smelled pee. Sniffing the can didn’t confirm it, so I checked inside the potty training chair. Nope, none there. I checked the big boy toilet. Sure enough, someone’s aim was off, and the back of the toilet seat was no longer white. The Pee-Pee Monster wanted to march out to my son to demand a cleaning.

Another is lurking in the living room – the Toy Monster. Last month, I attempted to re-organize the toy area…again. Lego people were mixed with cars, monster trucks with play food, and every type of play thing stuck under the shelf unit. No wonder they can’t find anything, and yet still have everything. The Toy Monster raises my temperature, darn sure it had put away that ocean puzzle just an hour ago. I ask for an organizational  rescue and get the look, You want me to do what?

my monster_pinterest

Still another is lurking in the laundry room – the Sock Monster. Sorting the laundry, I found a balled up sock. I unrolled it, turned it right-side out so it could be washed. Digging in the hamper, I found its partner, also rolled into a tight ball. By the time I got through the pile, I had unrolled 6 pairs of socks. I was pretty sure I could smell the feet sweat in between my fingers. I don’t understand how removing a sock is all that complicated. How do they end up as a ball? It seems to be a guy thing. Is it the basketball-like hamper-tossing that causes it, or did my hubby teach them to roll them off the heel that way? I don’t know of any woman who would put them in the laundry like that, knowing it can’t possibly get clean all scrunched together. The Sock Monster whispers in my ear. Let them get washed and dried that way, it says. They can grab it from their drawer later to find it’s still damp. Such a nasty Sock Monster!

While I’d like to think these monsters are hiding out in the rooms of my house, they are actually inside me. All rolled into one – the Nag Monster.

The Nag Monster has shown its ugly head many times. Its talent is rolling one thing off my tongue after another in a matter of minutes like a Krispy Kreme donut line. “There’s a pile of markers left on the floor… granola bar wrappers belong in the garbage can, not my sofa table… who went into the fridge and didn’t close the door all the way?”

Oh, I have perfectly good reasons for each of them. But it does no good. The Nag Monster is put on mute by my kids. Not purposely. They just can’t keep up with that many complaints.

Pick your battles, my mother always said. And it’s true. Nagging doesn’t work. Just because it’s nagging me doesn’t mean I have to nag them. If I truly want them to do something differently, I have to choose when and how I ask them. Select one or two at a time. Not expect them to fix the seven things I just rattled off like a machine gun.

Plus, nagging is a funny thing. It’s more than just annoying. It actually has a way of causing harm, even with the best of intentions.

A trusted friend shared a story with me about her daughter years ago. She would sweetly say, “Let’s try to keep your shoes off the couch, dear,” and “Uh-oh, let’s wipe up the drink you spilled on the table.” Her reminders were always given in a calm and loving way. Or so she thought. Imagine her surprise when one day, the tween daughter blew up. “You’re always nagging me. Always pointing out what I do wrong. I feel like I can’t do anything right!” All the time my friend thought she was being super patient trying to encourage good habits, she was actually making her daughter feel like a failure.

I thought this was incredibly insightful. Nagging can actually be damaging…beating down your child’s confidence. And your relationship.

One of the things I hope for my kids is strength. That they feel they can accomplish anything. They have confidence to go after their dreams, no matter how far off they seem. And at the same time, they have strength to accept failures along the way, but not lose hope for the next time. Will my nagging help that? Not at all!

Now, rather than let the Nag Monster prevail, I’m pursuing the Love Monster.

It’s there in the mornings when I catch my oldest son’s sleepy-eyed face stumbling to the bathroom and saying, “Morning, Mama” to me. One day, his mornings will be spent elsewhere.

It’s there in the imaginative destruction of my living room where pillows, tissue boxes, and Are those my new Tupperware containers? build a dirt bike track over my couches. I hope they enjoy this freedom and comfort in their own homes.

Yes, it’s even in the laundry room, where I realize that someday all the socks for the three most important men in my life will be the same size. I’ll miss these miniature versions. And the ability to know which is whose. 🙂

We’re not perfect. Never will be. Never CAN be. Our best is to keep trying. To improve.

        Let us not become weary in doing
        good, for at the proper time we will
reap a harvest if we do not give up.
Galatians 6:9

I started this journey to a yell-free home 48 days ago. I’ve had some successful days (the first 9 were fantastic!) and some not so good days (any day I attempt to clean the house). The journey to date has definitely not been 100%, but I didn’t expect it to be. I won’t beat myself up over it either.

Because in this journey I’ve discovered things that have led to good. Little things. Smiling more. Whispering to get their attention. Asking why they are upset rather than asking them to stop crying. Picking my battles. Most things I was aware of before, but I had gotten out of practice remembering them. And more importantly…using them.

In our minds, we see failures too often. We must look at ourselves through our kids’ eyes. They will recognize a failure, but our failures are forgiven. And most days, they see perfection.

It’s time I see their perfection more than their failures. When I stop to look at them…truly look at them…they are miraculous. The biggest blessing I’m not sure I always deserve. I remind myself that God chose them for me, and me for them. And He always knows what He’s doing.

Your child is perfect in so many ways, too. I’d love to hear about them!

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