“Lord, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference … ”
The Serenity Prayer.
A favorite for sure for most of us, I’m pretty positive.
What are the things that I can control? I can control what we eat for dinner, I can control how much salt or butter or oil I put in stuff, but I can’t really control whether the kids will eat it or even if the chicken that I want to have is on sale. I can control if my kids do their homework or not (sort of), I can control if they read, but I cannot control whether or not they do well on tests. I can control the schedule of my day, but not whether or not someone gets sick or if I get a phone call that alters my plans. I could go on and on here …
One might argue I’m not really in control of anything.
There is only one thing I am in control of: me and my reaction (or inaction) to things.
I was riding home from the mountains this afternoon talking with my mom. She had been to visit friends of our family from when I was young and my mom’s friend asked her if any one of my kids turned out similar to me as a child – sort of an obnoxious, take-charge kind of a kid (she didn’t say it that way, but let’s face it, its true). I preferred to think of myself as a problem solver. I saw problems, I fixed them. Period. I am still that way, the disposal is messed up? I fix it. A screw has come loose from the drawer track? I get the screwdriver and voila. Done. These are things I can change with immediate action. As I’ve gotten older though, I’ve discovered not everything can be fixed so easily. I cannot ensure that Lucy makes a perfect score on the SAT, I cannot ensure that Emma opens up and talks to people, has confidence in herself at all times, I cannot ensure that Mary won’t say something mean to someone else in her class. I cannot ensure how much money my husband makes or whether or not it will rain tomorrow.
I can control my reactions when these things happen however.
My adaptation to these situations is what will guide my children, help them understand that they each have a path, a path that they must discover and help them uncover the tools within themselves to embark on such a journey. They cannot always look to me to solve their problems, nor can they look to others to fulfill a need that they will have to satisfy themselves. I can give them the encouragement and guidance that will (hopefully) help them on their way down the right path.
All I can do is try to set the best example possible for them. I try work when I should work. I try model good behavior in the face of adversity. I try to stop and think before I speak what’s on my mind or say what I really want to say. I try to teach them to never underestimate the power of graciousness and kindness and good manners. Even when it is hard and you want to tell someone off. These are the things I can control in myself. These are the things I can model for my children. The rest of it? I have to hope that my actions will eventually speak louder than anything I could tell them myself.