My children have decided to make it as difficult for me as possible each and every day. Well, not really. But they complain about everything. And I mean everything. They start in just as their eyes open when sunlight enters their bedrooms, and sometimes they do not cease complaining until sleep overtakes them each night. At this point in the summer, I firmly believe that they may master a way of complaining while they actually sleep if possible. The sun, the heat, the bugs, chores, being told no, chores again, the heat, mom having to go to work, not being able to entertain themselves, the list goes on and on. You would think that with a summer curriculum and suggested reading, a swimming pool, bikes and scooters, chores and media time, that their days would be so compressed and full, that they would simply run out time and the ability to complain. Unfortunately, this is not the case.
Most of their complaints can be easily solved. Get out of the sun, remember deodorant, bring a water bottle. Or - go in the house, grab the bug spray, go for a swim. Here is a popsicle, I am making your favorite dinner, here are your clean clothes. I feel like these are the things that easily solve my every day woes. I am overheated and need to get out of the sun. I make a habit of wearing deodorant daily as to remain as comfortable as possible in the heat. I always pack a water bottle, if not two. When I am too warm, I go back inside to the air conditioning. When the bugs are retched, I locate the bug spray. When the heat threatens to overtake me or I need to relax, the pool will always call my name. When I need a little sugar boost in the late afternoon sun, a popsicle puts a smile on my face. An excellent dinner that fills my stomach and clean clothes for the next day so I can do it all again. These are the easy problems to solve in the heat of the summer. Why can't my children problem solve and remedy their own woes? Why must they perpetually complain and then also make it my issue?
It took me awhile to figure out why this bothers me so much. My children voice all of their complaints. Everything from an underwear problem to a grudge held far too long. I, as an adult, as a mom and wife, have a tendency to figure out a way to solve my own problems. And sometimes, I just bottle them up. I push them down, ignore them, stew over them, and even reach for them when I want to make sure that other people know even if I feel mildly inconvenienced.
My mother always quoted from Philippians 2:14- "Do everything without complaining or grumbling." I frequently find myself reciting this verse to my children in the throes of a complaint laden day. Yes, they know it is from the bible, but the eye rolling still commences.
I also have asked them to stop being miserable cows and disgruntled pelicans. They already believe me to be on the ridiculous side, these comments cement that idea in their minds.
When I feel complaints arising within, I often remind myself of my mother's beloved verse. But it isn't my favorite. It reminds me that there is no place for my complaining and grumbling. That I need to figure out what the root issue is, deal with it, or solve the problem at hand. Stewing and throwing around scenarios in my brain over and over again only drag me down. The heft and the weight of the complaint or grievance only affect me. I can't hold on to what hurts me, what ails me, or what plagues my memory. I can't use my upset as an excuse to treat other people poorly and lash out at them. Even when my complaints and grumblings of the heart are because of things so much bigger than heat and sun and hunger, I still owe my children, my husband, and even myself more than choosing to continue to complain.
It is daily for me. Daily. Sometimes multiple times a day. But the joy that I ultimately feel when make the choice to not complain, is indescribable. This choice is what changes my day and even the trajectory of my life. When there is upset and hurt and my heart seems to be a mess of broken pieces and busted edges, God is always the one that hears my prayers. He bends low to hear when I can not voice the prayers that so desperately need to be spoken.
It really isn't as confusing as I think it is - the why my children complain. They complain because they have yet to realize that usually what they need or desire has already been provided for them. The how, the what, the information to solve their own problems. But that takes time and maturity. And until then, I will continue to remind them of what they need to do so that the minor issues of life do not seem so big each and every time they feel assailed. And sometimes, I will just hand them a second popsicle, pull them in close and love them until things don't seem so out of control and complaint worthy.
No wonder my kids struggle each and every day. They are my children and they are human. Trying to solve it all on their own. I will remind them that prayer should always be the first choice. Because complaining is futile.