I just finished reading Jen Hatmaker‘s For the Love. If you haven’t borrowed it from the library, bought your own, or stole a friend’s copy, I highly recommend you do so, STAT. I can’t remember the last time I laughed so hard. Okay, it was probably when I read her last book!
Anyway, the whole book was amazing, but the part that stood out to me most was where she discusses the difference between “sweet” and “spicy” families. Rather than do Jen the disservice of recreating the genius that is her words, I’ll just quote her…
We are spicy people. We love obnoxious humor and sarcasm and are very, very loud. The lot of us suffers from Enormous Feelings, which makes us a passionate, emotional bunch. Our permanent default setting is exclamation marks!! We don’t really “do gentle.” We don’t actually know what that means.
So anytime I am around a sweet family, I have a crisis…. Nothing makes me diagnose my family as “catastrophic” quicker than another family behaving – a terrible comparison game that isn’t even fair, as I’m not privy to their atmosphere beyond that one hour…
Oh, man, can I relate! Whenever my kids are at a playground, someone else’s house, the grocery store, or pretty much just about anywhere public, I am reminded of the mortifying fact that we are about as spicy as you can get. As in, scream-your-head-off, punch-your-sibling, leave-a-wake-in-your-path kind of spicy. And I can always see it on the faces of the moms around me. Either their looks say “Oh, God, get your kids away from me and mine,” or “THANK God, my kids are not the only ones who act like this!”
I used to really care what others thought of me. So much so that in the midst of teen and young adult angst, I was often unable to sleep, eat, or even function. When I became a mom and my tiny tots’ spiciness was just starting to appear at play dates, Sunday school, or wherever, I would gasp in humiliation, drag my kid away from the scene of the crime, and get the hell out of there, shouting apologies behind me as I went.
But now, with three kids in elementary school, and their spiciness full-blown and ripe, I don’t seem to care as much. Of course I don’t let my kids run people over, and we make things right when they do, but I’ve accepted that this is life. This is who we are. My kids will always be little hurricanes, and I will constantly be shushing them in the library, barking at them to slow down in a crowd, stay with me when crossing the street, pushing them to ask forgiveness when they cause pain, and pointing all of us towards the cross.
Can I tell you my goal for my kids? That their childhood is mostly good. People, I declare, “mostly good” a raging success. If I am mostly patient and they are mostly obedient, great. If we are mostly nurturing and they turn our mostly well-adjusted, super.
So I don’t worry as much anymore about what people think of us. This mama bear loves her cubs fiercely, and I truly believe that when the dust settles, there are good kids under all that chaos. Their passion, their individuality, and their spice will take them far in life. It will make it so they stand up for what they believe even if no one stands with them. They will march to beat of their own drum, questioning the status quo, and their spiciness will change the world. After all, they changed my world!