My son is the most easy-going kid around. He always has been. (Yes, I’m so blessed!)
So when his toddler-self got the grouchies, my standard question became, “Monkey, are you feeling tired or hungry?”
When he’d grump several times in a day, I’d rush him to the doctor. (Yes, I was that mom—but I was always vindicated because each time he had an ear infection.)
One day as we ran yet-another-errand, a little voice from the car seat behind me said, “Mama, are you tired or hungry?”
He was right. I’d been in a grouchy mood.
I can still hear his saccharine voice matter-of-factly asking the question. No judgment. Just an honest inquiry. Are you tired or hungry?
It often does come down to that.
Oh, there are all kinds of things that pile onto my adult world and turn me into a Grumposaurus.
- Deadlines at work.
- Worrying about family.
- Hormonal fluctuations.
- Trying to coordinate schedules so that my middle schooler can go to the Haunted Corn Maze with his friends – the activity they’ve been planning and counting on for two weeks – but I don’t quite yet have Taylor’s mom’s phone number even though I’ve asked him a zillion times and there are other things going on tonight that don’t involve shuttling a twelve-year-old across town, and why couldn’t you have taken a shower before we got home like I asked you to? And no, running to turn on the shower when you hear the garage door open doesn’t count, and causes us to be late for dinner, and why is it that the people who pay the bills and do the work in the household are the ones who have to take cold showers, when all I asked is this one thing…
Yes. Many things can turn on my grouchies.
But often, it really is a matter of being tired or hungry.
Sometimes tending the garden means giving grace to the people around us. Asking ourselves if that person might be tired or hungry. Or sick. Or overwhelmed.
I admit it’s easier to give that grace to a three-year-old than to someone who’s twelve. Or twenty-three. Or fifty-three.
But it’s hardest of all to give that grace to myself.
I get so frustrated because I can’t will the grouchies away. But adding grumpy to grumpy never works. Ever.
So I need to remember that sweet little voice. Mama, are you tired or hungry? And give myself grace by taking care of those needs.
Because rest and nourishment overcome the grumpies. And make it easier to offer grace to those around us.
As you feel your grouchies arising today, ask yourself – in your sweetest voice possible – am I tired or hungry? And then do something about it.
Tending to our own needs gives us the strength and calm we need to tend to our loved ones—even the ones who are grumpy because they stayed up half the night playing computer games.