I’m not a sci-fi movie person. But I’ve seen my fair share of blockbusters to know what happens when the aliens arrive. Chaos ensues. The sky grows dark beneath a shroud of alien vessels. One by one, the skyscrapers begin to crumble like sandcastles. Screaming people flee in every direction through a haze of smoke.
I may not love the sci-fi flick, but they sure do feel familiar at times. We have four boys ages 8, 5, 2, and 7 months. It goes without saying that we take a touch of chaos wherever we go. While I realize my kids aren’t aliens bent on my destruction, some days definitely feel like Independence Day 3.
In fact, if you walked in to our home in the chaos, here’s what you might find.
Boys are screaming and running in every direction, weapons in hand. The smell of burnt chicken nuggets hits you in a cloud of smoke. Just to get inside, you step over carnage from the day—Transformers, a hundred LEGOs, stuffed animals, and what appears to be a half-eaten banana.
You look around for the hero to show up, to save the day and restore peace to the land. But instead all you find is me: a thirty-something mom dressed in spit-up stained sweatpants. I’m holding a baby, drinking cold coffee, and trying to breathe life into what was once chicken nuggets. I’m barely holding it together.
Frustrations run high, and patience is thin. I already lost my cool with the kids and feel the weight of residual mom guilt. I pray I can JUST. BE. CALM. until my husband walks through the door. No doubt, he’s received my numerous text messages:
“Hurry home. Don’t make any stops.”
“Losing my mind. Need help.”
“Bring ice cream. The good stuff.”
I hear the blessed sound of the garage door, and he walks in full of good intentions—but not peace. He grabs a boy in both arms and whisks them away for a “respect your mom” talk. Full of gallantry and love for his wife, he’s charged up, ready to conquer. But instead of arriving as Peacemaker, he charges in as Protector.
I sigh and push back tears. That’s not the calm I was hoping for. I go one step further and start to feel sorry for myself, “Why must I ALWAYS be the one to turn down the chaos climate in this house, when all I want to go hide in the bathroom and eat my Ben & Jerry’s until these aliens disappear?
A few months ago, I was replaying one of those just-plain-difficult days to some mom friends. Full of self pity, I shared how frustrated I was that the emotional climate in our house depended solely on me. It didn’t feel fair.
My friends lovingly listened to my tale. But instead of finding sympathy, I discovered commonality. They too shared stories of how their words, attitudes, and actions influenced the emotions of their family members. As we talked, we began to understand that we were not the exceptions, but rather the rule: The mom is a thermostat in the home. When things start to turn sci-fi and implode, a mother’s reaction becomes pivotal. We can either dial up the heat and frustration or breathe cool and calm into the chaos.
It’s taken me a few months to embrace this role. But slowly, God’s helping me understand how He perfectly created mothers to be the thermostat of the family. It is because (NOT despite the fact) we are feelers and nurturers and counselors and connectors that we can organically influence the emotional climates of our homes. We get to set the tone and demonstrate the grace, love, and peace that flows from God through us.
Yes, it’s hard. Yes, it’s a big responsibility. Yes, it might require some changes for God’s peace to settle first in our hearts and then in our homes. But that’s the blessing, not the burden. As God changes us, that peace overflows into our family life. In Him, we become unlikely heroes, fighting the chaos not with brute force and ice cream, but unfailing kindness, compassion, and love seasoned with grace.