Three Words

“Three words,” my husband said suddenly, as he appeared in the doorway of the kitchen.

I looked up from what I was doing and started throwing words at him. “Self-control, kindness, love.”

“All good words but not the three I’m thinking of.”  Although he was serious, he had a cheeky sparkle in his eye that I love so well. Although I was serious in my reply, there was an edge of banter to my words.

About an hour before this conversation, in the aftermath of the dinner-bath-bed routine, my husband and I talked about family life.  You see, at the moment, everything seems chaotic, and we are deciding what to focus on. Manners at the dinner table are shocking; things in the home aren’t organised; the kids can’t seem to sit still during story time; they are bickering and I feel like we are failing at family life right now. I’m sick of the chaos. I’m over mess.  I’m just tired.

As I write this, things are quiet again, I remember some good things too.  After the children were in bed, my eight-year-old daughter came and stood beside me. I felt irritated that she was out of bed but when I turned to face her, the genuine glaze in her brown eyes, dissipated my annoyance.

“Sorry Mum.  I know you said you didn’t want me to read in bed tonight because it’s late but when I was in bed, I forgot and read a few pages without thinking.” Her eyelashes are long and I noticed them as she spoke.

“I just wanted to tell you,” she said.

That’s pretty amazing.

I couldn’t help but smile at her. “Thanks for telling me darling. That’s fine. I can totally understand that. You need to go straight to sleep now though.”

“Yep. Sure mum. Night. Love you.”

That’s a pretty amazing moment right there.

When things are chaotic, I feel like throwing myself on the ground like a 2-year-old and giving up. But all is not lost, see?  And when I take a moment to think about my kids, there is so much awesome. Seriously.  However some things do need to change, and I voiced it to my husband in our conversation after dinner.

“I feel like basically, we are putting the blame on the children’s behaviour, but it’s mostly our fault, isn’t it?”  I said frankly. “What are we going to do?”

We let the conversation hang on that note, and sit in the air while we continued through some of the night time jobs.  It wasn’t uncomfortable, nor was it expectant, it was a there, waiting. 

After a shower, my husband appeared in the kitchen doorway and said, “Three words.”

My failed attempts to guess the words had him smiling.

“Lead. By. Example.”

That is what he said. “We have to be the change we want in our family.”

It’s an obvious answer that is often hidden. The concept isn’t a new one; I’ve heard it many times before, but it hit us both in the eyes right then.

I both loved and hated the three words my husband spoke.  I loved them for their truth.  I hated them in that moment too, because of their implication.  You see, I like action. I’m horribly impatient. I aim to make things happen. Boom! Like that.  I want change immediately and am willing to fight for it. I like to move hard, work fast, and then just be.

These three words go against that.  They are silent. They are enduring. They are persistent. They are gracious. They are patient. They are strength. God help me be the change.

Nothing dramatic has happened since the three-word conversation. Nope. Still chaotic here.  But there is a quietness beneath the noise.  A quietness that waits patiently in confidence…because fruit only happens after the nurturing is done.

It’s good to talk. It’s great to be reminded.  It’s excellent to refocus.  And we DO have a slightly new focus for the now. And it’s less about table manners and more about creating an environment of harmony and gentle leadership.  How we plan to do it is contained in these three words, followed by another three words: lead by example, lead with love.  Until the next time we need to regroup…

lead by example lead with love

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Comments

  1. says

    I am emailing this to my husband. We just had the exact conversation recently. We are currently drowning in the chaos and trying really hard to see the good sweet moments. Love this post. N x

  2. says

    LOVE THIS!! I said WOW at the end, your words are so true!

    Im also thankful for your chaos and unorganised home at the moment :)
    Thanks for the share

    Jo Sweeney – Fit Mums N Bubs

  3. says

    I can so relate to putting the blame on the children’s behaviour, when the reality is, it comes down to us. Man, it’s hard work, and often we don’t see the fruits of our labour for a long time. But when we do, it’s priceless.

  4. says

    Wow, a great post.
    I love reading your blog, and others like it, by people who are not claiming to have the perfect hollywood family but who ARE really trying to be the best parents they can be. Thanks again.
    xo

  5. says

    Kel, Your blog posts get better and better each day – I’m not sure how as they were pretty darn incredible when I started reading them last year. You are the type of Mother that I aspire to be (if I ever get given that opportunity of being a mum that is!) I love your ideas, your love and your honesty and your determination to be the best of everything that you can be. Much love JJ :)

  6. says

    My wife sent this to me at work. It’s like you just described our life and the same conversation we had last night. It seems you, your husband, my wife and I, and the commentators above are all in the boat. Great post. Thank you.

  7. wendy says

    My husband asked me the other day which baby/kid website is my favorite (eg. bub hub, etc) , I told him “Be a Fun Mum blog”, he asked why. For stories like these that remind us that family is the most important thing, it grounds us and make us whole. Thanks Kelly for these reminders

  8. Naomi says

    It’s been wonderful coming across your FB page and blog tonight! This post was incredible to read; we’ve had the same frustrations in our house too, the same type of conversations… I’m asking God to help me be the change too, for our children to see a Mum whose joy is obvious, no matter what may be going down!!! My Husband is beautifully and dutifully leading the way, reading the Bible to our 2 boys before bed, while I listen with great pleasure as I nurse the Baby – nothing more beautiful at the mo…! And talk is positive from him, where it’s not often been in the past… I’ve allowed this to drag me down, so now I’m trying to “catch up”… Re-focusing means ‘effort’ for this sleepy Mama, but our little ones are so worth it, I know that!!! Thank you for your wonderful, meaningful post, and for your honesty that speaks volumes… Blessings!

  9. Caroline says

    Kelly, fantastic blog, obviously echoed by a lot of people, including myself. I look at my kids eating and I think, ‘My God, do I eat like that?’, obviously aware of the lead by example concept!! Like you too, I’m an action Mum and want to see results yesterday!! I’m half way through the Positive Parenting programme, which my husband and I decided to purchase sometime after your webinar. It’s hard……! But I love the philosophy and practical suggestions, just what we needed. Can’t wait to finish it (action Mum speaking!), I just desparately look forward to better table manners!!! Caroline

  10. says

    ok, my eyes are leaking a little as I read this because it is so true. And it sounds similar to our household (although we only have one child to deal with). She’s only 17months but is such a bright little girl, and she observes EVERYTHING. Her frustration at not being able to physically do things or in not getting what she wants turn into fairly impressive (but thankfully short lived) tantrums. She has her father’s short fuse for sure and we need to lead by example too ?

  11. says

    This has come at exactly the right time for me, after spending that last couple of weeks feeling like I am failing at family life! Wow, perfect. thanks for sharing

  12. Tara Martin says

    Hay there Kelly, once again your words ring true. its hard to be a parent who holds traditional values in a modern world with so much distraction and a fast paced lifestyle. finding the calm in the chaos is very challenging for us at the moment. My husbands grandfather passed two days ago and we are trying to buy our first home ( with endless drama) organise a full renovation to happen in the space of three weeks, Im about to turn 30 and on top of that we have three adorable but busy children under 5. It is easy to see how focusing on quality family interactions and parental teaching can turn on its head. Thank you for reminding me that the lessons are still happening and to be conscious of the persons we are encouraging our children to become. A very timely reminder.
    Gratefully yours Tara. :-)

  13. says

    Beautiful post and so true. A good wake up call. There are quite a few behaviours in my children that I wish were different, and most of then lead straight back to me and my husband! Thanks for reminding me that the change starts with us!

  14. Lolly says

    I love your honesty, Kelly. When we are honest about the challenges of parenting it allows others to do the same. Thank you for a great read.

  15. Kamya says

    Oh I so needed to read this right now! Perfect timing and such wise words. Thank you for the reminder and the gentle encouragement.

  16. says

    Kelly, Thankyou for a lovely post ( 3 words) it really touched me because at this present time my family and i are living in total chaos and dont know how to get out of it. These words were the very ones i needed to read today. I know I have to change for my family’s sake.
    Thankyou again.

    Laura x

  17. Yolande says

    Love it Kell! Sounds very, very, very, familiar…. well the chaos that is…… the words we speak trying to solve it are not limited to three lol. Think it’s that time of year. Everyone is just tired!

  18. Ness says

    What a great post Kelly. Im so happy I have come upon your blog and I’m so glad you wrote such wise words to inspire us all. Thanks so much for sharing. xx

  19. says

    Our little family goes through this on a seemingly constant rotation. It’s so hard to lead by example when you are both exhausted from work and instead of those three wise words, we tend to use four not-so-wise words: Go. To. Your. Room. Oh dear. We’ll keep trying!

  20. says

    My husband and I just had a very similar conversation recently. And all we could come up with was the same. That we needed to be the change and that at the end of the day, actions do really speak louder than words. Thanks for keeping it real x

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