i’ve been told so many wise statements since becoming a mother. perhaps my favorite “remember, they’re sinners in need of discipleship & training”. i know it’s hard to think of our precious littles as sinners, but it’s absolutely true, isn’t it? aren’t we sinners? so it’s perfectly logical to realize our small children, who have yet to understand the saving grace of Jesus, are sinners. they will always be with sin, but the great logic needing to seep into our soul of parenting, is that while we pray and pursue salvation on their behalf, they don’t have it right now. it is our accountability and stewardship of their hearts to teach and train them repentance and relationship.
so i’ve been told this. my heart knows this. my brain processes this on a daily basis while i’m home with them. but there are breaks in my understanding of this that crash into the reality of frustration, disappointment, and anger. frustration when i feel so spent with their disobedience that i am ready to punt for the day and let all chaos ensue in order to have a break. the disappointment i feel when we’re in a public place and they lose all semblance of the endless hours we’ve worked on obedience and manners. the anger i feel when they are rude and disrespectful with fits of rage, tantrums, and screaming at me.
as i reflect on the day, i see one word that is a common thread through my description. feel. that is 100% the descriptive word i used. how am i any more mature, grace-bound, or live giving that my 2 and 4 year old if my operation of parenting is fueled by my feelings?
it’s all so messy. my house. my head. my heart. it thrashes, swirls, and explodes like a tornado. one evening last week, my husband (with great provision of the Lord) found the eye of the tornado with me on our bed. somehow everything seemed tragically calm (enough) for us to lay down on our bed and talk. he was laying the opposite direction and our eyes remained in engaged for an amount of time that was cumulatively much longer than the moments we steal here or there while passing and even while trying to parent when we’re at home together as a family.
back to the eye. he said “it’s not personal, you know”. to which i responded exactly like my 4 year old or a teen “i know!” i really did know this. and i really am confident that i believe it and do not act out of feeling personally assaulted by my children. my 4 year old tells me pretty frequently “bad momma!” or “yucky momma!” or “mean momma!” and has fits of screaming at me when he’s in disagreement, with, well, anything. he’s 4. my husband has chimed in on that very powerfully and i usually receive a heart felt apology within minutes and a bonus explanation of what a bad momma really is (because in the mind of 4 year old we need a definition of the opposite if we’re going to be operating out of definitions.) my husband mostly agreed that i don’t take it personally.
most of my distress is born out of my great desire for them to “just get it”. the number of broken spoons, migraines, and missed fun is too high to count and it breaks my heart for them sometimes. when my husband comes home and takes over (which is another shift for him…i’m not starting an argument about child rearing being a job, but let’s face reality–he’s been at work all day earning a living and now the work of parenting and husbanding is just as mentally, emotionally, and spiritually filled with work). so watching him discipline and address them give me a huge release. i then watch these little boys fear their discipline. i watch them repeat the offenses over and over. it breaks my heart. just get it. please!
and then. they get it. magic number ___ spanking, conversation, consequence unleashes the lesson and understanding. don’t worry, offense number ___ is lurking so we move onto something else just as rigorous. but they got it with the last one! hope to continue and remain CONSISTENT.
remember that eye of the tornado we found? my husband spoke life-giving, mother affirming, inspiring truth to me. he listened. he heard. he doted. and finally, i looked up and said “they don’t know any better”. AHA. i know, that is not profound. but it let me off the hook. it let my little boys off the hook.
it let me off the hook of the frustration, disappointment, and anger. in the grand scheme of the consistency with which we parent, they DO know better. but with every small battle we endure through the day, they are…..here it is……the eye of the tornado where my husband spoke directly to my soul……..they are testing. i know, i’ve been been told that one a million times before. i cannot explain to you whey i immediately FELT relieved.
they don’t know any better (for each and every offense). they’re testing. and do you know who they’re testing the MOST? me. the stay at home mom they occasionally tune out so that all they hear is “wha wha wha”
to top off my aha moment. we were eating dinner with the boys one night and i gave my 4 year old a few directives that he unashamedly rejected, denied, and did the opposite. my husband was in and out because we were at his office. i redirected the 4 year old with fewer directives and a promise of discipline if he didn’t obey. he handled it well and moved on. all of a sudden my husband walks in and my child says “momma, just quit going on and on and on”. my husband snapped into gear quickly and handled that disrespectful address as well as his attitude and intonation.
as we were sitting on our bed in the eye of the tornado, i told my husband about an understanding i gained while reading SEVERAL books about raising boys. it was never directly stated, but from all of our incredible opportunities to counsel, and even from my own husband, i understand very vividly and clearly that men are hard wired to loathe nagging. i mean scripture is VERY specific about what it’s like to live with a nagging women. why would i be surprised that my little boys don’t appreciate it either? (for the record, i was not nagging in the moment he decided to be dramatic!) but my husband grinned from ear to ear. he said “that’s why you are such a wonderful wife and mother,” he went on “that you can know your little boys will tune you out and test you harder with the approach and nagging says you care more about their hearts in the long run than you do immediate satisfaction for yourself”. i really do. yes, we can be heard saying “you obey momma/dadda!” but there is great relationship backing up that command. they can both tell you about how much we want them to be good men, (and they will say like dadda…which i only dream they are as incredible as my husband) we want them to be honest men, and we want them to fear the Lord with great reverence and respect. they’re learning to obey us, to believe us when we set up a consequence, and to trust us when lay out an expectation means they are gaining tangible understandings of what it is to love the Lord our God with all of our hearts, souls, and minds.
i’m finding my stride in understanding discipleship and discipline in time with my children learning obedience. it’s a long haul. i’m thankful for a husband who leads me through conversation, understanding, and an effort to help me take practical steps to continue loving him and our children in a biblical, God-honoring fashion. there’s no formula. what works for our family won’t work for others. no one can tell me how or what to do with my children because God entrusted them to me. i take suggestions, prayers, and advice on a regular basis, but it’s me who they were entrusted to for shepherding.
what has been a recent “aha” moment for you? a moment where a truth you have known for a while just sunk in so deep it became part of you?