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    Step Three: Identify Root Causes

    May 17, 2007 by Brandy Vencel

    Step Two was Figure it Out. This was meant to deal primarily with external issues. Baby crying? Figure it out. Solve the problem. Family life too busy? Cut back on activities. Solve the problem. Problems can and should be solved rather than avoided.

    When I say root causes, I am referring to what is going on inside. I suppose this could be done in reverse order. It’s not like I sat down and mapped out this series in advance. So maybe step three is really step two? Or maybe it can all be done simultaneously? But I digress.

    When a mom is first at home, a big complaint is loneliness. That, and When do I take a shower? The root cause of the loneliness must be identified. Is it because she has absolutely no community of any kind to which she is attached? Is it because those with whom she is spending her few precious spare hours are undermining her decision to be a mother and causing her to doubt herself? Is it because she is failing to spend time in communion with the Lord? Is it because she has never learned to be content alone? If loneliness were a plant, each variety would be identified by the differences in root structure.

    It is my belief that once the loneliness is sufficiently dealt with, what is left is selfishness. Maybe I am the only mother in the world who has found this to be true, but for what it is worth, almost every time I am overwhelmed with irritation, it is more about me than the actual situation. All the events of the day conspired together to prevent me from doing the one thing I had my heart set on doing, and so my response was internal tension. Annoyance. We all give it different names.

    This world tells us that the children are in the way. Even just now, I was annoyed when the two-year-old dropped her cereal bowl {on purpose} because I had to stop what I was doing. But what I was doing happened to be of no benefit to anyone but…ME. That is selfishness, the internal stiffening of my neck when one of the children intrudes upon my plan to do my thing at my chosen time. Me. Me. Me.

    When I was in the working world, I never thought it was unreasonable that I spent almost all the working hours working at the job. I didn’t take many personal calls. I didn’t write many personal emails. I tried hard not to chat with Grace. My desires were subordinate to the job.

    For some reason, this active self-imposed subordination is not directly transferable, or at least it wasn’t for me. I had to {and have to} relearn how to subordinate myself to the job. Only it isn’t a job. It’s a calling, a way of life.

    So back to identifying the root cause. This is important. Sometimes a young mom is lonely and she really does need a playgroup, or a friendship with an older mom, or maybe a Bible study. But sometimes she is lonely and she needs to learn to be content. And sometimes I am filled with tension because I need to go to Step Two and Figure Something Out. I need to solve a problem. But sometimes I am filled with tension because my selfishness has reared its ugly head, in which case I need to repent, and remember that motherhood is about service and self-denial.

    Instructions for mothering?

    Step One: Perseverance.

    Step Two: Figure it Out.

    Step Three: Identify Root Causes.

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