“Off the Team!”

I was having one of “those” days a few days back and it caused me to dwell a little more on the things I’ve sacrificed as a mom. This time I wasn’t doing it as a means to think positive. In reality, I was being a martyr because I was having the type of day where I was contemplating selling one of my sons to the ice cream man when he drove by. Lucky for him, it’s winter and there are no ice cream trucks driving around. Instead, I chose to tell (okay, yell at) my son that he was “off the team”. I had had it with his selfishness. Can you imagine which son had just gotten thrown off the team? Yep. It was Mr. Working-On-Not-Being-Selfish, except he wasn’t doing so well at it. Honestly, I had to laugh at myself when I realized that in the heat of the moment, I had just thrown my son off the team. I had never done that before but his behavior sent me to a place where I had to think of something–and quick! I think all the kids were just as surprised as I was!

I had just picked up my kids from a friend’s house and since it was a “movie night” of sorts, they had brought their pillows and blankets in case they fell asleep. The Talker was trying to get his seat belt on, but his belongings were in the way so he had tried to put them on his Working-On-Not-Being-Selfish brother’s lap since he was already strapped in. Good thinking, don’t you think? It made logical sense to me that he should be able expect his brother to be willing to help him out, right? Well apparently Mr. Working-On-Not-Being-Selfish was not on the same page as anyone but himself. He decided that instead of being helpful, he was going to continually throw The Talker’s things back into his lap every time he was about to buckle his seat belt. It was a cycle that successfully ended The Talker up in a crying tizzy. Can anyone else picture this happening in their car?

This chaos of selfishness is what caused my son to get thrown off the team. Now I’m sure you’re wondering, “What the heck team is she talking about?” Well, our family team, of course. In order to encourage team work in our house, we have this mentality that we are a team (even with a special team name) and we all play a part. There is no room for selfishness on this team. In fact, we have a picture of runners passing a baton on our wall and we refer to it as “dropping the baton” if someone has either been selfish or not respected someone’s personal boundaries. An example of violating boundaries would be when one child asks another to stop hitting them and the other child does not stop immediately. Or maybe when one child uses another child’s ink markers without asking.

Back to the car and the sacrificial thoughts. As I drove home (because the car was really silent now), I realized that right under my nose something had been brewing and I had missed it. You see, along with a list of many other things, I also have had to sacrifice being able to “turn off my brain” whenever I want to. Boy would I ever like to do that with everything on my plate right now, but it is my responsibility on our team for me to keep my mind active and aware of what is going on around me. I had just assumed that all was pleasant in Pleasantville for some reason and given into my longing to “shut down.” Now I had to figure out how to pick up the pieces of an issue that had obviously been going on, but I had not noticed. Now I had to figure out how to get the morale of the team back.

Now that my brain had been jolted back into gear, it was time for a team meeting. We had a pep talk of sorts. We talked about who is on our team and what is the purpose. We reviewed what it means to consider others more important than ourselves. We reviewed respecting each other’s boundaries and we talked about passing the baton. All weekend long (and even today) I had to intentionally make sure that I was always listening to what was going on–everywhere–and make myself available to drop whatever I was doing to referee any team issues. I asked the question, “Is that what teamwork would look like?” over and over again. You see, it’s practice that makes it work. I will continue this process for probably another week, whatever it takes, until my kids have reviewed the teamwork concept so much that it gets back to being their habit. Will I have to re-visit this issue again someday? Probably. We may be a family, but we are human after all. A mother’s work is never done.

It’s not easy being a mom, but that is what I’m here for. I am here to be available to help my children as they flesh out the things they are learning. You see, it may not be convenient to stop whatever I’m doing and put my referee hat on, but I must live out what I believe. I believe that developing the character of my children is more important than any task that I do. So what if dinner is late or I have to call someone back? My children’s character and spiritual development is my utmost priority.

So what about you and your team? Do you have a team or are you all co-habitating? What can you do to begin building Team (insert your last name here)? Ya know, it all starts from the top and if you believe in team work, so will your team.

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