Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Peace that Passes Understanding

It has been way too long since I last blogged. Baby is coming at the end of March, and we have been trying to prepare for this birth. My plan was to have a VBAC at the local birthing center, but they are understaffed, and at 32 weeks, they told me I could not birth the baby there. That led to a search for a midwife who could do a home birth on such short notice--and, praise God, we found one. So now we are in the process of buying all the items we will need for the birth.

Today was one of those days where I felt like a train that got derailed, and I did not know how to get back on the track. Little man is having allergies right now, and that makes him wake up early in the morning. Things were going well, but then little man and I missed our nap. Enter numerous rough and "squirrely" behaviors from little man. He wants to tackle and wrestle mommy. On days like today, he is apt to do anything I tell him not to do, unless I am standing right beside him to enforce what I say; I am a terrible get-off-my-but momma when I am tired.  By this evening, I felt like I was going to pull my hair out. Numerous thoughts began to nag at me: "I am such a bad mom!! Look at how he is acting!" and "I can't handle this anymore. I just want to crawl into a hole and cry. Do I really have to cook supper and wash the dishes?? How on earth am I going to manage that?!"

I told my husband how I was feeling, and he reminded me that most days he feels like he is falling apart too, and that all we can really do is to trust God. Honestly, that was the last thing I wanted to do at the end of this crazy day. I often worry that God is the one who is putting all those nagging, self-loathing thoughts in my head. I am afraid that he is going to "flog" me somehow, remind me that I am a failure, get onto me for not trusting Him sooner. But, I was at the end of my abilities, and I had no one to lean on but God. It is amazing what happens when we turn to Him! He really is the best example of the best parent out there! When I turned to him, the first thing that happened? Weight fell off of my shoulders. I had a sense of calmness, of peace. It was as if my Father were hugging me, telling me everything would be ok.

After I calmed down, rested in my Father's unconditional love, a new understanding of my little guy emerged. Compassion replaced frustration. My Father in heaven, rather than berating me for not following through like I should, or for not being the momma that I should be, welcomed me into his arms with tenderness and forgiveness. And I am an adult; I should know better than to live disconnected from God, my life-source, for a minute, let alone a whole day! But God does not berate me when I fail, he beckons me closer to Him. And here I was, frustrated with my tiny, immature three-year old, for not controlling himself better when I had been spending hours steeped in attitudes and patterns of thinking that were not from God but from my flesh: I was allowing sin to control me. For the first time, I really saw my poor little guy; he was so tired! I stooped down on his level, gave him a hug, and told him that I loved him. I explained to him that I needed to do dishes while he played with his toys, and then we were going to read a lot of stories together. He beamed through those exhausted eyes of his. Why hadn't I noticed them before? Now he is peacefully asleep, and all seems well with the world.

I wonder why it takes me so long to trust God sometimes? I am often afraid that before He invites me back into fellowship with Him, I will have to pay some sort of penance; that I will have to somehow suffer shame. And yet, His word clearly states that when I live in sin, I simply need confess, and He is faithful and just to forgive. I hope that my little guy experiences this sort of grace from me as he grows into maturity; that he never thinks he must suffer before he can be in "fellowship" with me again! I know that for that to happen, I need my heavenly Father to love through me; I would be a crappy momma without Him, that is for sure.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Parenting 101

Little man has recently begun exhibiting an incredible amount of independence. While this is a good thing, and it is part of growing up, it can be unpleasant at times. Especially when he decides that he absolutely will not do something that we have asked him to do, or absolutely must do something that we have asked him not to do. I feel like I am in Parenting 101 all over again, but I am, believe it or not, actually enjoying being a student, because I know that I will learn so much through this.

First of all, this new level of independence is teaching me that I must always be quick on my feet! If I am going to say "no" about something, I need to be right beside little man when I say it, so as to enforce the no (usually by holding a little hand and remaining calm when he shouts "NO!" back). If I am going to ask little man to do something, then I need to be right beside him with this offer: "Can you do it by yourself, or do you need me to help you?" I am learning that being quick on my feet does pay off...little man realizes that my words do have meaning, even though he may not like them.

I am also learning humility. Like today, when we were in line at a fast-food restaurant, and little man decided he wanted to eat dessert rather than a meal. Of course, the answer was, "no, only a meal today." Boy was I surprised when my formerly mellow little guy began to shriek, "No! I want cake!" Solution for me? "Eat humble pie, you are parenting before God and not before man." So, I stepped out of line and removed little man to a quiet area. I hugged him and told him that I loved him. I said simply, "you need to sit here (beside me) until you are ready to listen to mommy." When he calmed down, I gave him a simple choice: "Eat a meal here at the restaurant, or go home. No dessert." He chose option A, of course, and was such a happy, peaceful little guy as we returned to the line. I am so happy, yes HAPPY, for this incident. Every time I parent through the eyes of grace, I relax a little more into my Heavenly Father's love for me. I am so thankful that He deals gently with me so that I can deal gently with my child.

I love being on my little guys' team like this! Yes, I am the authority in his life, and sometimes that means that I will say no if something is unhealthy. Yes, little man needs to learn how to calmly respond to mommy if he doesn't like something she is telling him. We have lots of do-overs and practice daily, with me often asking little man, "how can you say that more nicely?" and then supplying him with an example if necessary. But I AM on his team. He need not fear harsh retribution when he acts childishly. I can see that he will be a strong man someday, able to stand by his own beliefs, no matter what others say or do. This is something I want to nurture and guide in the right direction. I can see that little man has just realized that he is his own person, separate from me, with desires that sometimes differ from mine. Now he is in the sometimes no-fun place of learning that he is under authority. May God give me and his daddy wisdom as we nurture and guide this precious little one; how I love being in His classroom!