Saturday, March 29, 2008

Struggles With Attitudes

My Thankful Thursday post, and Genevieve's thoughtful responses, have highlighted something for me.

My struggles with attitude.

No, don't worry, this won't be a post full of angst. This is not a bleeding-heart-blog. But it is a blog for pondering and sharing and some of us ( Genevieve and me ) seem to ponder best when we write. Or blog.

Thursday was my birthday. Birthdays are always bitter sweet for me. Where does the time go?

Dh and I stayed up very late, spending time together, talking together. We talked of a number of things, of this, of that, of some every day things, of important things.

And dh pointed out that I have become abrupt in my responses to our children.

Ouch and double ouch.

The super thing about being married for a long time is that we can share, honestly.Most of the time.

We can hold each other accountable for words and deeds.

Thus, dh's words made me both wince and wonder.

I see that I am often abrupt. Partly because of my sarcastic, somewhat wicked sense of humour. Mothers aren't supposed to use this humour on their kids, right?

But my biggest problem is probably busyness.

I get busy. I like being busy . ( What am I running away from, that I have to keep my life so busy? Or is it personality? Is busyness a problem or is it really attitude? One of my Lenten reads, Finding Sanctuary, made me feel uncomfortable when encountering my busyness and the contrast of the monastic life. ).

Regardless of the reasons for this busy life, I do know that, in my busyness, I can be abrupt. A response that could be more loving, friendly, becomes a terse shorthand answer.

In living a go-go-go lifestyle and being efficient, I forget the gentle response.

I am so not gentle.

And so, one of my attitude struggles is a struggle against abruptness and towards "yes-ness".

I prayed about this, at Mass and at Adoration yesterday. Hoping I will be given an epiphany on how to change my response.

You can do nothing with children unless you win their confidence and love by bringing them into touch with yourself, by breaking through all the hindrances that keep them at a distance. We must accommodate ourselves to their tastes, we must make ourselves like them. --------St. John Bosco

I suspect that change will come simply by doing - by my consciously making an effort to be less abrupt. It is the act of doing that makes us become what we are. Repeated acts of niceness, not abruptness; and, I imagine, repeatedy falling down and dusting myself off mentally, will mean that eventually yes will be a more automatic response than the terse alternative.

I've seen this happen in other areas of my life. I have acted as if I was what I wanted to be and over time, a change occurred. The me I wanted to be became the more natural me.

My other struggle of attitude is a body image attitude. Again. (Does this get boring? Is this a woe-is-me post? Horror. I shudder. And yet, in order to think, I write. I share. Yes, I bore...)

One would think that after losing weight, a person would be happy with their body.

Uh uh.

It seems that I look in the mirror and all I see is the back fat, the daggy arms, that horrid waist, the saggy b**bs.

I don't expect perfection, yet I find it difficult to come to grips with a slimmer self. I look in the miror and see fat. As if I am the sum total of my looks. As if weight is the all-encompassing, most important part of a person.

Both intellectually and spiritually, I know this to be false. Yet, just as I fall back on a sarcastic, abrupt answer in default when busy, so I fall back into negative body images at milestones, at certain times in my life.

Like my birthday of last week - there comes the thought of being both fat and old.

Sad. I know that who I am is more important than how I look but the negative self talk is default mode.

Perhaps body image takes awhile to adjust to weight loss. Perhaps the living as if philosophy can be applied here, too. Live with joy in my fitter body, as though I accept my body and perhaps I will - accept my normal body, normal BMI . Not model thin but normal.

And fit.

I said recently to a friend, that I find that working on and with my kids on attitudes is of more importance than working on behaviour or on Maths. I see now that this applies to myself.

No default modes. Acting and living on purpose.

If, then, you are looking for the way by which you should go, take Christ, because He Himself is the way. --------St. Thomas Aquinas

Cartoon courtesy of Gary Olsen, Cartoon College


molly said...

I love this post. I am not a busy person, but I am abrupt, I don;t mean to be, yet I know I am. I will keep you in my prayers.

Beate said...

Funny, I was pondering that very topic this am - soul sisters, I know ;-) Anyway, Tomorrow is ds's FHC, two of our German visitors are leaving (at 5am - eek) it's my godson's bd, my mother will be here, etc....Forced busy. The 4yo cares nothing of my to-do list. She wanted snuggle time with Mommy. I prayed for peace and let go. For a moment. Then, I was ready to get going, she was not. More prayer. Once again He reminded me of the important stuff. It's the moments of relationship that count.....Why is that a lesson to be learned over and over?

Btw, you look great and I'm so proud of all your effort! And somehow I'm certain that at the end of the day your dc rest secure in the fact that you love them. Again, the important stuff!

Leonie said...

Molly, somehow it is comforting to know that I am not the ony abrupt mum. I will say a prayer for you too as we work on this together.

Beate - very true - why do we have to learn and re-learn these lessons? Just like our dc? :-)

paminoz said...

Leonie, every time I look in the mirror I get a shock- face and body-wise. That can't be me. And it could really depress me if I had time to think about it- which I will later so someday I will have to deal with it.

All this to say, I will pray.

Funny, I always think of you giving so much quality time to your boys that abruptness seems foreign to that.

Forgive me for the truncated-ness- girl rolling around on the floor needs me!


Leonie said...

Pam - I can just see your dd now. :-)

I work on being a better mum but the abruptness ( and truthfulnes of the post) shows how I can be without the working on it...

Rachel said...

Wait a minute-just hold on darn it-back off I am trying to finish something- ack! These are all things I say in my busy-ness. And I really hate it. I get busy and my fuse isn't just shortened, it's blunted. I so easily blow and it makes me so angry at me!

I'll pray for us both!

Leonie said...

Oh, Rachel, I am laughing, simply because it all sounds too familiar. Except I add a "Far Out!" !!

Meredith said...

Leonie, you are anything but old and fat, you are a beautiful child of God, period!!! I loved this post and could so totally relate as I am far too abrupt on many occaisions, even with my dh sometimes *gasp*. Praying for you in this new birthday year, mine is not far away either and I will remember this post :)

Leonie said...

Thanx Meredith.:-)