I always call my son, Sutton, one of my best friends because he totally is. I love my time with him and laugh harder with (and at) him than I think I ever have before. He is my compassionate, empathetic, kind, fun and extremely happy baby.
But as his character begins to show through, I’m beginning to see that he is also stubborn and very strong-willed.
I have no idea where he gets that from 😉 – He is prone to frustration when one toy doesn’t fit into another. He really dislikes the word “no” and any discipline that comes when he refuses to obey. He won’t sit still for a moment and can wear me out relatively quickly, whether it be emotionally or physically.
If I’m honest, there have been moments in which I just feel “done” – done with my day or week as a mom. I feel pushed beyond my limits and all I want to do is crawl under the covers and hide. I have had days where my husband comes home and I’m in tears. I have to just grab the keys and go.
But as I try and focus on the positives of even these messy moments, I can so clearly see the blessings that are right in front of me.
I have been made stronger in areas that I didn’t even know needed strengthening.
I have learned to love more while witnessing how awfully conditional my love can be.
We are always learning. The moments are sweet but they can also be incredibly hard. I want to learn from this. I desperately want my heart to be pruned, so I have been praying that I will have the ability to see the areas that I am growing in, even in the midst of the more challenging seasons of life. Here are a few of the precious lessons that I have been learning:
I am learning to offer help instead of judgment.
I was a great parent before I was a parent. Oh gosh, this couldn’t be more true. I have to somewhat believe that I am getting what I asked for because, let’s be honest, I totally judged other parents and their screaming kids before I had one myself. I had so many tips and tricks on how to discipline and knew exactly how I would handle that kid. Looking back, I realize that I had absolutely no idea what parenting entailed.
There is no longer any judgment (to the best of my ability) coming from my end, no matter what the circumstance may be. I have learned to have grace and understanding, not only for parents, but for people in every circumstance and in every season of life. If we’re not in someone else’s shoes, we won’t ever be able to pretend hard enough; we’ll never truly understand what they are going through and what they’re battling in their heart or mind. Instead of offering my opinion (to their face or otherwise), I wish to offer love and help any time it is needed.
I am learning that my son will mimic what I do (and that’s not always a good thing.)
In the peak of my anger, it’s much easier to express such frustration when the person on the other end responds with anger as well. I have seen the negative effects that harsh words have on marriages, friendships and family members. I acknowledge that loose lips damage relationships and I strive to ask for forgiveness when I say things that I don’t mean. But it feels different with my son.
Every time I raise my voice at him, I can’t help but to sink in sorrow as soon as I see the shocked look on his little face. At a young age, our kids don’t typically respond with actual anger, do they? Instead, they respond with confusion and sadness because they don’t fully understand. For me, the realization quickly sets in that he has not heard this frustrated tone of voice – ever – in his short life; yet, he is hearing it for the first time, and continuing to hear it, from the person that he relies on and trusts the most.
It doesn’t matter that he is hitting me or pulling my hair for the tenth time that day – loud words often fall upon deaf ears. I realize that the more he grows up hearing these things, the more likely he is to express that anger to other people in his life. We should take a second to breathe and respond instead of react. More than ever, we should pray to love kindly, love patiently and love gently.
This is not to say that we’re expected to be perfect or that we’ll never lose our temper again. We will definitely fail. But in that failure, we can humbly repent, displaying that even the “biggest” people in our lives should live in humility and ask for forgiveness. Remember that, no matter what age, it’s never too late to start over.
Sweet momma, if you have created a dynamic in your home, one of anger and harsh words that does not reflect the love of God, you’re not stuck! Use it as an opportunity to display the gospel to your family – remind them that they will fail, just as you do, but there’s nothing you can do to earn more of God’s love or grace. It’s freely given! Ask for forgiveness, live in that ocean of grace and start fresh today.
I am learning that the slow moments are the sweetest moments.
Life with a strong-willed child is almost always fast-paced. As parents, we play, chase, run, encourage, discipline, feed, chase some more, save them (from jumping or falling off of something), laugh and love – and we do all of this within two minutes time. We run to the grocery store, clean the house, give baths, change diapers, put band-aid’s on scratches and scrapes and are lucky if we get to sit down for the first time at 8pm. Let’s be honest, you’re basically superwoman.
This moment to moment “go-go-go” lifestyle has helped me to realize that the slowest moments need to be cherished. Moments where we can make breakfast together as a family, sit outside with coffee while watching Sutton play and just rest. I can’t say that I ever really appreciated this downtime before I had a baby. As mommas, we should appreciate those slow and sweet moments, embrace them with joy and, most importantly, be intentional about creating them for our families.
I am learning that I take better care of my family when I take time for myself.
Yesterday at church, the pastor was talking about how it’s easier to confront your sin and control yourself when you’re rested. He mentioned that being tired can make us more prone to sin – whether in anger, frustration or irritation. A lack of rest for us mommas can affect our families quickly. If you are not taking reasonable time for yourself, it’s possible that you’re feeling worn down, and in turn, may be placing additional stress on your family. Find something that you love and enjoy and give yourself a few hours a week. Go to the gym, take a mommy day or get a manicure – whatever it might be – take time for you!
I am learning that He is strong where I am weak.
Although my heart has been purified and strengthened as a mom, I have also never been so incredibly aware of my weaknesses. The most impactful lesson that I have learned is that I am not even remotely strong, and that that’s totally okay.
My patience is extremely limited, my tone is often harsh, my endless striving in wanting others to think that I’m a good mom is exhausting and my attempts at keeping my son, my husband, my home, my friendships, my blog and my ministries in perfect order make me feel like a failure every single day.
Yet in this weakness, I have found joy and freedom.
Mommas – Motherhood gets messy. We don’t have to be the perfectly polished woman who has it all together. We have a perfect Savior who intercedes on our behalf; One who takes our failures and covers them with grace and new mercies every day.
We can fall on our knees before God more than we ever have and soak in His word to remind us that He is our foundation. He is perfect where we are flawed. We have the ability to pray about the smallest tasks – like laundry and bedtime – because He is a God who cares about all things. He has never asked us to place an endless list of expectations on ourselves or to carry this burden on our own. Isn’t that freeing?
Today, remember that you are enough. You will fall short – you may have already failed ten times this morning – but God has already covered your failures by His grace. It’s not about doing better, but seeking Him more. And if you take a second to stop and let this little human teach you these five important lessons, you will allow yourself to see the excellent and beautiful that God brings from this sometimes messy life of motherhood. Our babies have the power to strengthen us and refine us – if only we will let them.