Battles of the Wills

Bo and CC peering out of our hotel window last Saturday evening on our trip back from Alabama.

Bo and CC peering out of our hotel window last Saturday evening on our trip back from Alabama.

Since returning from our vacation last week, life has been at full speed, complete with news that we have to get a new septic system, a new tire on Rob's truck (even though he just got all brand new tires the week we left for vacation), playdates, work, tantrums, and the list goes on. It seems like the more I pray for guidance and patience, the more things get thrown my way that question what on earth God is doing and the more my patience is worn thin.

If you're a parent, I'm sure you can attest to the fact that it's legit the hardest job in the world. Though there are zillions of books written on parenting, our children are not born with owner's manuals. No one child is like the next, similar perhaps, but not exact. It's a beautiful and an ugly thing all in one if you ask me. Bo will be 4 next month and CC will be 14 months next week, both are literally a dream come true for me as I've always wanted to be a mom, however, both push me to my limits and make me question my abilities. I've really been struggling with Bo for a while now--mostly in the last year--it's a major battle of the wills with us, and it's all consuming and all exhausting. He has my personality in a lot of ways and I wonder if it's just the way God made him or if a lot of it is learned, and it's so hard to figure out the best approach in dealing with it. His strong will, I pray, will someday be the driving force in his faith; that he stands his ground for Jesus and leads others to Him. Right now that same strong will leaves me in tears sometimes. I firmly believe in corporal punishment but I feel at some point, it's beyond the power struggle and all spanking does is fuel the fire, so I'm trying every method imaginable. There's good days and bad, and most of those bad days I'm at my whits end, thinking to myself, "when is this season going to be over?!" but in the same thought process, asking for forgiveness. I don't want to rush through any season because I know there are lessons to be learned and grace to be received and given. It's on the really tough days that God gives me a dose of grace which can often look like Bo randomly saying to me, "I love you to the moon and stars and back, Mommy" or him coming and laying his head on me and looking totally content, or like last night, him asking me to help him find worms for the chickens and saying that I look like a princess in my dress. Deep breath...grace.

Lately I've thought a lot about the parallels of me parenting a 3-year-old (going on 13!) and God's view of us. How many times do we tell God we want something and when He says "no", we have a hissy fit, kick and scream and yell, "I don't like you God! Get out of here!" (I hear this from Bo on a weekly basis lately)? I can't imagine the feeling He has when we throw our little tantrums, yet He loves and cares for us anyway because if I had to guess, every time He says, "no", it's to protect us from what we don't see or to protect others from us and our decisions (much like me defending CC because she can't defend herself from her brother and his unwillingness to share or show gentleness in his actions sometimes). For me, thinking this way helps me have a little more patience when dealing with the unruliness and allows me to not take the jabs so personal. After all, I'm dealing with a whole lot of personality in a small body who is trying to navigate his feelings and emotions. I often question my parenting though--am I too hard on him? Do I nag too much? Do I have unrealistic expectations? Do I do enough activities with him? I have such mama guilt half the time it's not even funny. However, I know the way I was raised--to speak to adults with respect, use manners and respect others, especially my brother. I know he's such a well-behaved child and kind hearted but even though I feel like that's the way God made him, it's also been mine and Rob's parenting and a demand for respect. I see other children his age and they get away with so much more than we would allow for Bo to get away with so in those circumstances, I am grateful for the hard days because I know that we are forming him into a respectful young man who is naturally so smart and loving, even though we have pushback.

The principals I've learned in these short (almost) 4 years of this whole parenting thing, I feel have also strengthened my faith and my sense of God's will on my life personally. I've hit a lot of roadblocks and I've had a lot of disappointments and times that I've kicked, screamed and asked God, "but why?!" in my most whiny tone. I, however, have looked back on the past 7+ years and seen the hand of God all over my life and decisions. While I still don't know what that it thing is...the specific calling...the monumental "this-is-what-God-has-created-you-for" thing, I remind myself often that life is a journey. A journey has hills and valleys, all kinds of weather, happy and sad times, but most importantly a journey is unpredictable and depending on how you look at it, it's a lifetime of learning and growing. While I may not have all the answers or be the best at this journey I'm on, I will strive to be the best me I can be, continue to ask for grace and guidance, and for God's will, not mine, to be done.