Today I feel like I got hit by a truck. I would love to be able to blame it on Daylight Savings Time because, well, losing an hour of your life stinks. But I think too much time has passed for that to be the cause of my exhaustion.
And it’s not just lack of sleep that is contributing to my overwhelming feelings of exhaustion. It’s the constant instruction and discipline that come with raising three kids. It is hard. Nobody ever tells you how hard it actually is.
I really do try to discipline my children correctly. I often use Scripture to train them on a certain trait like selfishness or sharing. My focus is to change and train their little hearts. Sometimes, I’m successful, but more often than not, this is how it goes down:
Vivi: (screaming about something she wants) Or (screaming for no apparent reason)
Me: Vivienne, you need to have some self control. Remember, we talked about controlling our voices? Let’s ask Jesus for some self-control.
Then I usually say a quick prayer while Vivienne glares at her lap. And as soon as I say “Amen,” her little head snaps up and she yells at the top of her lungs,
“Noooooo! Nobody have ‘trol! I don’t want ‘trol!”
Jonah usually gets into trouble for hitting Vivienne. (A lot of the time she sort of deserves it because she likes to swipe his toys while he’s playing with them. You see, mostly I’m just a referee.) Anyway, I can usually talk to Jonah, possibly put him in time out for a few minutes and then he will hug Vivi and apologize to her. It’s not always very sincere but hey, it’s a start.
And Brienne. Well, let me just say that the tween years are no joke. Right now she is caught between being a child and being an adult so she’s not quite sure how to act. And honestly, most days I’m not quite sure how to treat her.
This parenting thing is hard. I just pray that the good moments outweigh the moments that I screw up.
Sometimes, in the midst of tantrums and chaos, all I can do is laugh. One afternoon, I had all three kids with me in the car and Vivi was fussing about something. Brie and I just sort of laughed about it (because it was either laugh or cry) and Vivi looked right at us in all seriousness and said, “It’s not funny, big bunny.” Um. What? It’s not funny, big bunny? Where does she come up with this stuff?
There are times, though, when I can see that all my hard work and all my prayers are working.
Vivi had a little New Testament Bible that she carried everywhere. She loved that little Bible. One day she took it into Publix while we were shopping and somehow we lost it. It must have fallen through the holes in the grocery cart. Honestly it seemed to just disappear so that when we got finished shopping, it was nowhere to be found. Needless to say, she was very upset when she discovered it was lost. But once she calmed down, we were able to talk about how another little girl who might not have a Bible may have found hers. And now she can read about Jesus. Then Vivi said a fairly sweet prayer for the little girl. Sometimes God can use situations like this to reach the hearts of our kids.
And sometimes he uses Bible stories to convict their little hearts.
One afternoon, I had escaped (I mean, I went shopping) and I had left Peter in charge of the kids. Apparently Vivi had a rough morning while I was gone because she had an accident in her panties. (I’m sorry if this is about to be TMI for some of you.) Anyway, when Peter discovered what happened, he asked her why she had pooped in her panties and not in the potty. Her response? “I not poop in my panties. Jonah pooped and put it in my panties.”
Say what? I don’t think so, little girl.
That evening as I was putting the children to bed, I read the story of Zaccheus. After I finished reading and singing the song (which the kids thought was hysterical, by the way), we talked about how Jesus loves us no matter what. Even when we do the wrong things, He still loves us. Vivienne looked up at me with those big brown eyes and said, “Mama? Jonah not poop in my panties. I pooped in my panties.”
Aaaah. The sweet mercies of conviction. She felt better for confessing about lying and I felt better knowing that her little heart is not beyond reach.
Sweet mamas, I know the days are long and the challenges are difficult. I am right there with you. In the thick of it. Every day. It is hard and discouraging and sometimes it’s impossible to see the sun. But guess what? The Son is shining. And He uses every little detail to help you mold and instruct and love your babies. Even during those times when you don’t feel qualified and you don’t think what you’re doing is making any difference, it is. I promise. Keep praying for your children. Keep sharing the love of Christ with them. Keep asking for forgiveness from them. And trust that you are exactly who they need.
I’ll leave you with this picture. Our sweet Vivienne, who can be such a strong-willed, hard-headed child, is learning so much just by sitting with her daddy and “reading” her Bible. Let’s remember to sit with our Father and rest in Him too.