My daughter likes to play this game in the car. It goes like this….
Pepper: Mom do you want to play a game
Me: sure, what do you want to play?
To call this a “game” is sort of lame. It’s basically naming cars, like, “there is a blue truck,” or “motorcycle.” When Pepper plays she just yells out cars that she sees followed by a very loud and very excited, “I Win!!!!”
When I say, “oh look a car with no top (convertible),” Pepper responds with, “Oh man, I missed it.”
We play this “game” until she forgets we are playing. It’s pretty cute the first couple of times….then, well it’s only fun for one of us.
If you have kids then you get this, if not then you might consider this a useless story. But this is my real life. I have been a mom for almost half of my life. “Mom” has been a piece of my identity for a long time but never as intense or as prevalent as in the last 4 years.
For 30 of the last 48 months I have been pregnant….and still counting. The persistent hormone flux is enough to send anyone into a deep surrender, where you are constantly calling upon Jesus for more mercy, and also my Zoloft prescription has been on a pretty steady incline.
Don’t get me wrong this is everything I wanted….but what you want is an illusion, reality is so much better and so much harder. My illusions about raising children were magical, lovely, and full of sweet mischief. The days would consist of just pure enjoyment of each other and reveling in the intimacy that only a mother and child can have. The Love would grow and expand and evolve….and it would release me into more of who I was meant to be.
Sooooooooo, the illusion was more of a delusion. With one exception, the love. The love I have for my kids is so much more than I thought it would be, and I truly do believe I am becoming more of who I was meant to be. But the one thing I never really considered when thinking about kids is the disobedience, the whining and just plain anarchy at times. The lack of listening and following directions has and does take me to a serious dark place inside myself.
Humanity is fully revealed in a three year old, and the uglier and darker side of humanity is revealed in me, the three year olds mother.
This weekend my husband was away staffing a men’s retreat. So for three days I am a single mom of a just turning three year old and an 18 month old, and I’m pregnant. I knew it would be harder than normal life but this weekend just took a turn, I get like Alice in the looking glass and everything about my reality felt upside down. My girls were behaving exactly as they should; a little off because dad wasn’t home, still sweet and loving and pressing boundaries, except Pepper was trying to make wine with her pressing! It was like with every turn there was a new level of obstinance.
She comes by this naturally of course. Her human nature as well as DNA leads her down a pretty independent and stubborn response to most authority. I value this part of myself and abhor it in my daughter. Yet! This is exactly the kind of fierce woman I want her to become, testing and trying, asking and pushing boundaries. I want her to engage the world with some fight….just not with me lol. I want her to be compliant, obedient and well mannered….I am still fighting to see through the delusion.
I so get her and that rebellion in her is the same rebellion in me. One day it will serve her very well in this world but it is also my job in her life to help her manage the rebellion. To show her that the energy spend fighting is not always the best energy spent. There is a fierceness in listening and obedience. I feel like I have had to learn this the hard way but I am a much better warrior because I am obedient.
Truly, her behavior is not my real problem. My real vulnerability in this season is how I am responding to her. Her dramatic and passionate responses are not surprising. I knew she would be spicy! But I never imagined I would have so little grace and patience and mercy for her when these eruptions occur.
This past weekend I went to such a dark place inside myself, I didn’t know I could posses that kind of frustration and anger towards a child. I never hit her or was abusive, this is or was all internal. But at one point after bath time I was trying to get pajamas on both girls to almost no success. I yelled her name really loudly and she looked at me and cried “momma, that’s too loud, it scares me.”
It scared me too
Internally I felt so out of control. I was so tired and worn down and angry and just fucking pissed because she was not listening to me!!!!!
Oh how becoming a mother has given me insight to my loving Jesus….I am so so sorry God for fighting you for so long.
I started to cry
I cried for the next hour, through story time and prayers. Sobbed through good night kisses and hugs and I asked for forgiveness. I asked God to help me and I asked for that moment to be wiped from my child’s memory.
When I yelled, something happened inside, it was like a door opened to a closet that I didn’t even know I had. Inside that closet was holding every frustration and every moment of disobedience….some where along the way I had forgotten to forgive my daughter for just being human….for being a child.
In ways that I am ashamed of I had been keeping a record of her wrongs and in one desperate moment that door opened and all of her faults swallowed me into a dark place.
I serve the most forgiving God, He keeps no record of my wrongs. I have so much to learn. I think the only way to attempt to parent well is to forgive. Clearly I am not practicing this, but I am determined too.
Matt came home Sunday night and I left and went grocery shopping. There at moments in motherhood that I am the worst version of myself. I am stubborn and obstinate and honestly not a very good listener…no surprise Pepper has the same traits. I want to badly to do this well, motherhood, that is. I want to kick ass at being a mom, but most of the time motherhood is kicking my ass.
There is no resolution to this post. I have no words of wisdom or any whimsical and hopeful wrap up. I will just say this…..I am truly and deeply humbled that God has chosen me to be the mother to my kids and I am so so so thankful that everyday I am offered new mercies and a new opportunity to love well.