*Collapses on the couch to start writing, but honestly wants to crawl into bed for a nap.*
Good grief. Nobody warned me that my four year old would turn out to be a sixteen year old trapped in a four year old's body. Like, how does that even work? The 'tude is strong with my dude, for sure... and it's SUPER frustrating sometimes.
I work really, really hard to connect with him. I've learned to be exponentially more patient. I've learned that he is definitely a creative and absolutely has to have time to explore, though it doesn't always match my time table. Sometimes he and I are able to find common ground and share some really great experiences, but a lot of the time we clash, and that's really hard. That's when the stress starts, and I find myself wondering what I did wrong... and if I'm being really honest, sometimes it seems like he hates me. Yes, I know kids go through stages and that "this, too, shall pass" but MAN if I'm not ready to throw in the towel some days.
I saw a post by a friend the other day saying, "Happy Birthday to the World's Greatest Mom!" When most of us see something like that we think, "That's nice, but MY mom is the World's Greatest!" Which, I did say that (lookin' at you, Mom!). That day in particular, though, I was feeling like the furthest thing from my kid's idea of the World's Greatest Mom. Every single thing I asked J to do was met with a "No!" or "I don't want to!" Like, every. single. thing. Then he had a meltdown when I actually followed through with my "If you say no one more time you're going into timeout" threat. I had had enough. That was the day I put myself in timeout.
I'll be the first to tell you that I'm far from perfect when it comes to parenting. I do my best to model and instill the values we share as a family, but I'm not always successful. There's a thought that I've held onto during this difficult but oh so important season.
EVERY moment spent with my kids matters eternally.
These moments are shaping who they are and what they will become, even the seemingly insignificant ones. More importantly, how I relate to them shapes their view of God and what He is like. I'm not a dad (clearly), but it is my responsibility as a parent to "train up a child in the way he should go" so that "even when he is old, he will not depart from it." (Proverbs 22:6, ESV) How am I investing in them? How am I using each moment of the day (breakfast, chores, story time, park visits, quiet time, etc) to help teach them how to be like Christ?
When you invest in your kids, not only are you helping shape them, but you are also helping shape future generations. That, my friends, is incredibly humbling. And it's also a good kick in the pants when I want to pout and say "I give up."
When I find myself getting irritated by my kids needing me, I check in with myself and say "My kids are on loan to me from God. Am I accessible to them? How am I investing in them right now?" I ask God to change my attitude and help me have a better perspective on whatever situation is presenting itself. It's usually the times when I realize I've been trying to do this whole parenting thing without seeking God's council that I find myself in time out. That's not a good place to be, or maybe it is.
I know that one day J will post on Instagram or Facebook or some social media platform that hasn't been invented yet that I am, indeed, the World's Greatest Mom. For now, I'm ok with being the one who takes away his "fun-ness" if it means teaching him responsibility. I'm also going to be intentional about having fun and playing with him, because every moment matters. And, if I need to, I'll take the occasional timeout. :)