Thursday, February 15, 2018

A Little 1-2-3 Magic and Whole Lotta Jesus

One would think that after 15 years, I would have this parenting thing down pat.  I haven't even mastered adulting yet.  Every single day, parenting is something that challenges me.  My children love doing the exact opposite of what I request, feel the need to argue about everything, and are as lazy as the day is long. The latest installment of Let's See How Long It Takes Mom to Loose Her Mind happened this morning.

I told Lily (11) last evening she needed to take a shower. She guffawed at me with such an extreme eye roll, I thought her neck was going to become unhinged. She said she just took a shower that morning and she was fine. I reminded her that she wasn't going to have to the chance to take a shower this morning because she had to use that time before school to study for her spelling test. 6:25am rolls around and Lily comes bolting into my bathroom and appears to be preparing to jump in the shower.

Me: Lily, you are not taking a shower. Remember, last evening when I said you needed to take a shower because you wouldn't have the chance to this morning because you needed this time to study for your test?!

Lily: (Avoiding eye contact , she reaches inside the shower and turns the water on.)  Oh I know. It is early, and I am taking a shower.

Me: Lily, you are doing the exact opposite of what we talked about and doing whatever you want rather than obeying me.

Lily: Watch, fastest shower of my life. (She jumps into a freezing cold shower, screams because of the temperature and acts like her defiance means nothing. As if the barrier of the shower door redeems her.)

I stand there stupefied and irritated starring at the shower door as she begins to get used to the artic water, and starts singing the song First by Lauren Daigle.

This child. This child I love, this child I prayed for for years!  How dare she oppose me. How dare she think that she can do what I have asked her not to and get away with it. Where in all of her 11 years did she find the guts to do what she does and not worry about any ramifications whatsoever?  And then it hits me. She is totally my daughter.

I am resistant, defiant and uncooperative and that is all on a good day!  The reason my daughter's behavior bothers me so much, in all truth, is because, she is exactly like me!  Every single word that bugs me, every single mannerism that makes my blood boil, every single assertion of her will are all things that I do or characteristics that I possess.

When I am falling apart and praying over my children as they sleep, I feel that God has said to me,  "I have given you Lily. She is exactly like you. It is going to be hard, but most of the time, it is going to amazing.  You will find that she is a sponge and wants to learn everything at lightening pace. She will test you and make you grow as a person and as a mother. She will enable you to learn everything you didn't learn in school because of the hours you will spend working on homework together. She will break your heart, but more times than not, she will make your heart soar. She will covet your prayers and seek you out to ask the hard questions. Most days you feel ill equipped. But I have entrusted My Child to you as parent. Love her, teach her, guide her. Speak truth to her constantly and share My Word with her daily. Enable her to grow into a young woman who values her identity in Christ over her identity in the world. Challenge her to try harder and do things that aren't comfortable.  Show her that it is her character that matters more than all the knowledge in the world.  Teach her to be kind and encouraging, caring and compassionate. Teach her to love and give when she may not receive anything in return.  Love her deeply, even when you feel like you have nothing left.  But turn to Me. Rely on Me. Rest in Me. Because I have never asked you to parent the children that I have entrusted to you alone. I will be there every step of the way. I will walk with you when your mom heart breaks and rejoice with you in times of triumph.  But not a day will go by, when you will need to rely on your own knowledge, your own resources to fight this battle. I am by your side. Your constant companion. Your Savior and Guide."

Often, when my breathing has calmed, I am then able to approach thankfulness. I am able to thank God for difficult mornings and for sass that threatens tongues to fall out. But when I struggle, I can then revert to a tried and true method.

When the kids were little, I read a book called 1-2-3 Magic! It is about counting to three to enable your child to respond to your requests and understand urgency and expected time frame. It worked wonders with both my kids and I was amazed that I often only had to say the number 1, and my kids would respond immediately.

As my kids have grown, I have changed 1-2-3 Magic into something that will benefit me. I now count to three before I respond.  If they aren't listening, if the sassing starts, if they are arguing, I pause, count to 3 silently and then proceed. By counting to three it enables me me not lash out, not to yell as much and I actually think my silence is something to be feared. I believe my kids expect an immediate response from me. And when I don't respond, they take a moment to calm down also.  (Plus, a little fear, a little reverence, never hurt a parent!) 

Will our morning challenges miraculously cease? All the counting in the world couldn't make that happen. But I can be more patient. I can rely on God and not my own strength.  I can count to 3, and when that fails, I can count to 10.  And I can love my kids and parent them the way God wants me to.

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