On Friday, I blogged my heart. Why is Mothering so Hard?
My children no longer unwind a whole roll of toilet paper just for fun. Not saying they’ve mastered hanging a roll of toilet paper, but I haven’t seen this scene for years.
The kids are driving larger, more expensive vehicles we have to insure and fill with gas. Road rage is absolutely NOT tolerated.
I miss little kids. Having a “baby” who’s 8 going on 24 is not the same as being the mom of a baby or a toddler. I love my kids at every stage, but I miss those early years.
I miss little problems. I miss the simplicity of wiping up spills and putting away a bajillion Legos for the kajillionth time. At the time these problems seemed so hard, and they were, but now seem so simple compared to the situations we face now.
As I look back on those early years, there is more than just love of little ones tearing at my heart. There’s regret. I didn’t completely understand what I was doing.
I loved what I was doing. I planned to be a mom. I prayed faithfully. I studied the Bible. I asked older women questions. I was in my element, serving in the career I had chosen – MOTHERHOOD.
But, somehow, I missed out on some important aspects of parenting. I didn’t understand the small problems, like spilled milk, were preparing me for larger problems.
I also didn’t understand I needed to handle my children’s small problems in a way that would build trust and confidence so they’d come to me with their bigger problems. Over reacting and ungodly anger can prove inability to handle their problems. If you’re faithful in little issues, you’ll be prove faithful in larger issues.
Do you want your teenager to come to you and confess the true details of how they dented your car? Be patient and gracious now when they tell you how they broke your glass or your vase. Yes, they still might be reprimanded for playing ball in the house, but they have to know you value their right standing with the Lord and their safety more than your possessions.
Do you want your teenager to come to you and discuss all friendship/relationship problems? Begin now training their relationship skills and your listening skills in dealing with their sibling confrontations. Hear both sides. Teach them to confess and ask for forgiveness. Let them know that nothing they tell you will freak you out. Allow them to entrust their relationship problems to you.
Do you want a teenager to admit to their weaknesses? Don’t deride and rail on them for their weaknesses as children. Have a bed wetter or one hard to poddy train? Be patient. Be encouraging. Be supportive. Even when you have washed the bedding for the third night in a row, bite your tongue. Do you have a child prone to stealing? Lying? The goodness of God leads to repentance, deal with them with firmness and a determination to find the truth, but in a spirit of grace and not offended anger. But, let them trust you with their weaknesses.
Picture how you want your children to act as teenagers and young adults. Then trace backwards to the stage they’re at now. Pray for wisdom, and ask the Lord to show you how to root out sin in their life, teach them to apply the Word of God to their weaknesses and help them grow into that godly young adult you envisioned.
For years we primarily looked after ourselves. Yes, we served others, but in the timing and way WE chose. Some of us taught Sunday school, Bible studies or worked with youth groups. We might have babysat, worked with Daily Vacation Bible school or a kids Bible club ministry. We might have even been very, very active in working with younger people, but it was usually according to OUR schedule.
Now, as a Mom, there is no timing, no control. 24/7 you’re on call for the needs, desires and even wants of your kids. It can be tiring. It can be utterly exhausting.
It can be hard to discern at 2am if the cry is a need to be fulfilled, or a want to be ignored. Answer their cry or let them cry it out? Pick them up and comfort them or let them learn to comfort themselves back to sleep?
When do you stop what you’re doing, intervene in a situation, and when do you ignore?
When do you make them eat, and when do you allow them not to? When do YOU eat? When do you play with them and when do you make them entertain themselves?
I don’t think I initially understood that
I saw them as an addition to my life, not my entire life. I loved my children. I wanted a houseful of children. I just didn’t know how much I would have to give.
I quickly learned. Fulfilling their basic needs took way more than I expected I’d need to give. Time for Mommy to read, craft, sew, bake, visit, shop and talk on the phone could not come first. Sometimes it was an easy sacrifice because I love babies and small children so much, and was thrilled to have my own. Sometimes, it was a hard sacrifice.
Why is Mothering so hard?
It showed more ugly than I expected was beneath the surface.
I never expected to get impatient with a little one who whined just because they wanted to be held in my arms, again.
I never expected to be frustrated that a little one couldn’t master a new skill that would relieve me, even slightly, of some of the burden of their care.
I never expected my heart to be cold to the cry of a little one, just because my bed was so warm. It wasn’t always with a joyful heart that I bounded out of bed to pick up a precious little one.
I never expected that every sin hidden in the corners of my heart, mind, body and soul would be stirred to the surface by these precious little ones entrusted to my care.
I never expected it, but the Lord did. That’s why He allowed it.
I also learned God the Father is never impatient when I need to be held in His arms, again.
I also learned He is infinitely patient when I can’t master the victory over sin that would relieve Him some of the burden of my care.
I also learned when I cry out to Him in the darkest of night, He never sleeps nor slumbers.
I also learned that whatever ugly sins are stirred to the surface during my parenting, He will cleanse and send them as far as the east is from the west.
I never expected it, but the Lord did. That’s why He allowed it.
Years ago, I was in the same fellowship as a godly older woman named Cheryle. She loved the Word. She loved her husband. She loved her boys. She was a smile erupting out of a heart filled with the joy of the Lord.
Cheryle’s husband was dying of scleroderma, her heart was still full of joy.
She had several boys going through the typical rocky transformations from teenagers into men, and she still had joy.
Sunday mornings, while our children were in Sunday school, the adults enjoyed visiting. Cheryl usually had a few younger sisters gathered around while she shared what she was studying in the Word.
When I learned one of her sons was engaged to a young woman I wasn’t sure was a Christian, I privately asked Cheryl about this. I might have been a little forward, but I craved knowing how she was handling this situation. Watching as a young mom with six kids not yet on the brink of these decision making stages, I knew someday I could be in her shoes.
She paused very deliberately, showed no offense to my question, but gave a wise and prayerful answer. Her pause, as she summoned the Lord for all the grace and mercy of Heaven, gave me an answer that has burned into my heart and soul for decades.
Because, I had been taught –
The wicked seem to prosper on earth, but this earth holds all the glory they will ever behold.
The believers, in the likeness of Christ, suffer on earth, but the earth holds all the suffering they will ever behold. They will prosper in Heaven for all of eternity.
The light of eternity turns our hearts turn from our earthly suffering to their eternal suffering.
Then we fully understand their need to eat, drink and sleep for tomorrow they die, because when they die they face the judgement.
That isn’t prosperity.