guilty pleasure alert: we have been watching the show about the duggar family. they are the ones with 18 children (as of the season we are watching…). i heard that there was at least one earlier season, where they lived in a normal house, but we haven’t found it.

so, we will allow for the fact that they live in a huge house that meets all of their needs (restaurant style kitchen, huge sinks, huge fridge, huge pots, etc.). they have a whole beverage station thing happening near their diningroom table. they probably spend more on disposable plates than we spend on groceries in a given month (unless they get them donated?).

but what i find so inspiring about them is how PROACTIVE they are about how they raise their family. they don’t scream. they are purposely calm in the face of chaos. we watched an episode where the whole family went to a christian movie convention. after sitting through one of the films, the family went off to some private area and let the kids just run themselves ragged and shout and jump and play. and the mother just calmly explained that they had been sitting for too long, and because they are children, they have to get some of their normal healthy energy out.

sit with that for a moment. she wasn’t embarrassed that her kids were wild on TV. she wasn’t alarmed that maybe people would hear them and judge her parenting skills. she wasn’t stressed that her kids were off the hook and she had a newborn baby trying to sleep. she just accepted that it was normal, and it was ok, and she rolled with it.

wow.

i can’t tell you how many times i’ve been somewhere and heard parents threaten to smack their kids for crying or whining or yelling or whatever. i can’t tell you how many times i shrivelled up inside when i wanted my kids to behave a certain way and it just wouldn’t happen. i don’t know how many people are just so comfortable in their own skin that they can just BE.

and i don’t think it’s an act for the cameras either. her older kids “parent” the little ones the same way as she does. they are quietly assertive, and if the deck is stacked against them, they realize that the kids are hungry or tired or stressed and they HELP them instead of threatening them (yes, i’m guilty of this too!).

what i love, and what i need to see over and over and over is that the duggars are so PROACTIVE about what they do. they have a philosophy of parenting and they are guided by it. there is no crisis when things don’t go as planned, because they are looking at the big picture.

your “picture” might be quite different from theirs. i know some people are put off by their religious beliefs, their homeschooling, their views, etc. but the point is that the picture comes first- they THINK ABOUT what their vision is for their life and they live in concert with that. they don’t get sidetracked by the bumps in the road.

during what will one day be known as the great garden debacle of 2011, i wish i had been more grounded. i was so reactive for most of the time, that i missed what was going on around me. i shoved my kids aside for what i kept honestly believing would just take “a sec”. my husband got dumped on the back burner because i was constantly 3 steps behind in trying to figure out what to do next. we wanted to get the truth out, so we knew we couldn’t just sit back and let the city spin their story, but we were so clueless about how to make that happen. so, what could have been a tense but lovely time with me sitting with my kids in the garden and doing interviews became a stressful sprint with everyone watching videos and playing computer games and eating donuts for lunch.

i’m not beating myself up. maya angelou has a saying to the effect of ‘you did the best you could at the time. and when you knew better, you did better.’ i like that and i think it’s very forgiving. obviously nobody trains for the ‘what would i do if i suddenly had to be on TV’ question.

but i know now that if i had to go back and do things over again, i would have made some different choices.

no recriminations. no blame. just another lesson learned and another valuable teaching tool.

and i think that in my ‘big picture’, that’s pretty acceptable. 🙂