I find myself constantly asking that about parenting. People have said it's the hardest job you'll ever have and it didn't take me long to realize they are right. I find myself full of doubt, lacking clarity, and frozen in my own mind not knowing how to handle certain situations. I know I'm not alone, but that doesn't help me in the heat of the moment when I feel like running away from home. I'm happy to say I've fought that urge thus far, but I don't like the feeling to even surface.
I want it to be perfect and rosey every day. I want to come home to children who are respectful, cheery, helpful, and never fight. But when I look to myself, do I model those same characteristics every day? Nope. So why should I expect any more from my children? I (we) are their role models. We teach them the behaviors they have. When my son gets angry and raises his voice, I know it's because he's heard me do that to him. When he gets frustrated and immediately calls for help instead of continuing to try on his own, I know he's seen me do the same. Friends, like it or not, our children are our mirrors. They are who they are because of us.
A recent sermon really resonated with me about being a disciple of Christ. When the series began, I never thought little old me could disciple anyone. I was the one who needed to be discipled. I mean, what do I know? Can I spout off verses from the Bible by heart? Nope. Do I know and understand every story in the Bible and can I discuss them with others like I know what I'm talking about? Sure can't. But can I live my life the way Jesus did? Can I listen with compassion, feel with empathy, and react with love? It's hard, but with God's guidance, yes I can!
When our kids are driving us crazy, there's some driving force behind it. If we're lucky we can figure it out and remove that variable. Sometimes we're not so lucky. Those are the times they need our love most. Yes, we'll have to dig from our pinky toes to find an ounce of it, but that's the only thing that will see us through.
When they rub their snotty noses on our freshly laundered blouse and gently lay their head on our shoulder, all they need is love. Snot washes out.
When they are talking a mile a minute, asking 10,000 questions, all while you're trying to read a recipe to cook dinner, all they want is your love and attention. Dinner may not be perfect, but that's okay.
When they fight with their siblings and run like banshees through the house, respond with love and attention. Take a moment and run with them. The laundry, dishes, or whatever can wait.
When they don't listen because they think what they're doing is more important. React with love and remind yourself that you often do the same to them. Take note and start with yourself before reprimanding them.
I'm hoping that by writing this out, I will be able to recall these ideas when I suddenly find myself in fight-flight-or-freeze mode. I want to be able to drum up all the compassion and empathy I can muster and handle the situation with love. As Stephanie, from A Wide Mercy, so eloquently put it, "We all need love the most in the moments when we feel the worst. If I skipped the gruesome part of mothering I would also miss the chance to show them love."