“When I’m seeing the world thru the right colored glasses it’s all crystal clear. When I lose sight of what really matters, that’s when I wind up here…”
– Templeton Thompson “Right Colored Glasses”
I tend to be a bit extreme, set unrealistic expectations and I am very hard on myself when I feel that I have fallen short in some way. Over the years, I have grown in the process of learning to be more kind to myself, but these lessons are usually painful and require humility. Understanding often comes from the school of hard knocks. As was the case this past weekend…
Kyle was in his home office catching up on some work, I was finishing a major closet clean out that I had begun on Saturday, and the boys were relaxing in the living room watching a fishing show. That’s when it hit me, a wave of fear and panic brought on by the sound of TV and the knee jerk thought that they’d been glued to it “all day” long. Now, of course, looking back through the “right colored glasses” I see how unreasonable that thought was because we had not even been home “all” day. We had gone to church, out to eat, taken a trip to Home Depot, Brooks had played some tennis with friends, rode scooters, and done his homework, Casen and Carter had pulled weeds with Kyle, and done homework as well. So where did the barrage of negative emotion come from? AND… for that matter, what’s the big deal if they had been watching TV all day? If only I could have stopped with the thoughts and gone to a quiet place to get some perspective… instead I began barking orders about unloading the dishwasher and insisting that the TV be turned off immediately. You can imagine the boys’ confusion and frustration with me. Lucky for all of us, Kyle recognized the signs and offered me a “time in.”
After some “post meltdown” thinking, and a cup of tea that my sweet son, Brooks, brought me, I awakened to some helpful understanding. In my mind the boys watching TV “all day” means that in some way I am not doing a very good job of parenting. And when “bad mom” shows up, blame and control race to the rescue and they are terrible first responders! They offer no compassion or understanding, no sympathy or reason.
This is not a new phenomena at our house, as Kyle has so gracefully pointed out to me many times, the TV and the Xbox are not the villains I have made them. I use these inanimate objects to blame and attempt to control when I feel fearful and inadequate in taking on this seemly insurmountable job of parenting.
I know research confirms that children should spend no more than two hours a day in front of a computer or television for a plethora of reasons, all related to emotional and physical health, and I agree completely. But it seems my emotional health is the one in question when issues arise concerning the television and Xbox in the Hutton home. An elaborate chart keeping track of each boy’s daily time on Xbox, wii, television, computer, or my iPhone is not the answer – so please don’t email me some new quick and easy way to solve my problem (that’s just another way for me to try and control the situation and then beat myself up when I don’t stay consistent with it). The electronics are not my problem. And a new way of “doing” things is not my answer.
The answer is crystal clear when I’m wearing the right colored glasses. It comes in the form of a hot cup of tea from an awesome son, an undeserved hug right after my “mad woman” episode. Compassion, grace and love. And guess what, just a small dose of those is enough to remind me – “it’s all about perspective… everything’s alright.”