Monday, October 01, 2007

Confessions of Commander Mom

I am not a patient mother. Much of my regret as I lay down at night is a result of my lack of patience. I stop and pray for patience and forgiveness for my lack of it frequently. As a frazzled Mommy with a plan, I am too often snippy, pushy and frustrated by dawdling and the failure of my children to get in line. I want it done my way. Now.

I must admit that I once took a bit of pride in people's comments that I run a tight ship. Now that the children are effective at communicating their feelings, I increasingly find myself less impressed with having my parenting compared to a drill sargeant. I believe strongly in teaching respect, obedience and self control, but should it be at the expense of modeling characteristics described as the fruit of the spirit? I am struggling with the balance.

R is my most emotionally volatile little guy. He is very communicative and extremely specific about his preferences. He debates and argues every point, cries when he doesn't get his way, shrieks and throws himself on the floor when frustrated...and although I do try to respond firmly, calmly and without emotion, I frequently find myself frazzled, tired and raising my voice. A couple of times recently he has through tears said, "I don't like it when you talk that way, Mommy." Ouch.

His words stung because I knew he had a legitimate point. The truth is, I don't like the way he spoke to me to get us to that point of conflict. But I am the Mommy. I am called to model maturity, patience, gentleness and self control. This challenge keeps me on my knees in prayer and relying on God for a strength I do not have.

I read a beautiful, poignant article today by the very talented Ann Voskamp (who blogs at Holy Experience). There is such wisdom in Ann's words on parenting, "Just guide gently." I feel challenged and convicted about my lack of gentleness.

I am overwhelmed at the difficulty of this challenge for me personally. I am by nature a sprinter, not a distance runner. I like to get things done, mark it off the list and move on to the next thing. Character development, unfortunately, is not that straightforward.

My attempts at becoming a more gentle guide started this afternoon. I wondered aloud to my husband this evening if maybe there was an asterisk in Ann's article somewhere saying Moms of feisty three year olds were exempt. I don't think we are.

Jesus, I need you. I know you can calm raging storms with a single word. I ask you to similarly calm my impatience. I need you to empty me of my pushiness and fill me with your quiet strength. Remind me through the day how you gently guide me, despite my own feistiness and rebellion. Equip me with the fortitude to follow your example.


ATLKrafts said...

I appreciate your blogs every day. A song that I just heard reminds me of the thoughts that you share. It is from Caedmon's Call latest CD "Overdressed" - Maybe it will encourage you-- the song itself is so awesome that the lyrics by themselves don't do it justice:

this house is a good mess
it’s the proof of life
no way would I trade jobs
but it don’t pay overtime

I’ll get to the laundry
I don’t know when
I’m saying a prayer tonight
cause tomorrow it starts again

could it be that everything is sacred?
and all this time
everything I’ve dreamed of
has been right before my eyes

the children are sleeping
but they’re running through my mind
the sun makes them happy
and the music makes them unwind

my cup runneth over
and I worry about the stain
teach me to run to You
like they run to me for every little thing


when I forget to drink from you
I can feel the banks harden
Lord, make me like a stream
to feed the garden

wake up, little sleeper
the Lord, God Almighty
made your Mama keeper
so rise and shine
rise and shine cause

Big Mama said...

As a fellow impatient mama, I totally understand what you're dealing with. It's hard to find the right balance.

Sun said...

OUCH - this convicted me - oh how I struggle in this area. How beautifully and humbly written - thank you for this post. Sunshine

Lisa said...

I am another very impatient mother, who can be quiet snippy sounding the more impatient I get. And as you know, 3 year olds move on their own schedule sometimes.
Try not to feel down or beat yourself up about this. Your post was so honest, and you are not alone. I have a favorite quote from Maya Angelou and it always helps to remind me that some days I may not always speak the words I want my children to hear, but I try everyday to make them feel loved beyond measure. (Even if it's been a 'bad' day.)

"I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel."

Jenny said...

I know EXACTLY how you feel, and I only have ONE 3 year old (and a 4 month old, but he's totally easy ;-)
Thanks, as always for your words.

Hang in there :-)

Jen4 @ Amazing Trips said...

It's not easy, is it??

I am struggling with patience, what seems like every minute of every day. Just recently, I heard one of our children pray "Mommy needs unending pwatience". If I didn't know better, I'd think that they were eavesdropping on my conversations with God.

Katie said...

When my middle child was 3 God grew my patience. He made me realize that the Dude was an observer and needed to look at and often touch everything. It could take such a long time to! He still takes the longest of my children to do anything, but God showed me that gentleness works so much better for both of us than my rushing or even my way.

Courtney said...

The Lord gives grace to the humble. Thanks for sharing with honesty and vulnerability on something I think we as moms all could do better at. I struggle seriously in these areas and I know without a doubt the Lord is displeased with my lack of fruit in this area. I too am all too often looking for the asterisk, but in my heart (and in my reality) I know none exist. Thanks for sharing and for a morning reminder! Have a blessed Day!

Mary said...

I'm typing through tears. I see myself in this post and it hurts. My son is nearly 12 and he's a good kid. Any mother would be thrilled to have his as their son. However, I still find myself snapping at him because he isn't quick enough, doesn't keep his room clean enough...he can't live up to my standards. No one could live up to my standards. My husband calls me a micromanager and although I protest, he's spot on. I have gone back to my son on many ocassions to ask for his forgiveness when I have snapped at him. Bless his heart, I always get a hug and a 'that's okay mommy' from him.

All we can do is pray that God will bless us with the patience we desire.

Katy said...

I used to be super impatient with my kids...and even would yell alot. It is a horrible feeling to lay down in bed at night and feel like a horrible mother. Thankfully, through the help of God and my hubby and mom...i have gotten it all under control...and i must say...i enjoy my kids soo much more now as well as motherhood! Each day is more joyful rather than stressful!
Thanks so much for your blog and reminding me I am not alone. It still challenges me...but I believe that is something that keeps me coming to God each and everyday asking for His help. :)
I hope you have a wonderful week! Glad i found your blog!

Mindy said...

Again, you are preaching to the choir.
I am totally the commander mom type.
I hate that about me. I am working on patience. I just really learned this weekend how much God loves me (thanks to an Emmaus walk) and I want to pass that on to my girls! Being a godly mother is one of my top priorities so patience is something I need to gain.
THANKS for this post. It is a great reminder that we CANNOT do it without Jesus!
In HIM -

Emily Powell said...

Thanks so much for sharing this. Your last several post have really struck a chord with me as I have been having many of the same thoughts myself. Thanks for all your encouraging words.

Kristy said...

Wow - that was a good word for me today. Thank you for being so transparent. It's good to know other people deal with the same issues and it's an encouragement to keep pressing on!!

Erickson 5 said...

Gosh, once again I am right there with you on this post. I do not have patients most days either and since we are in full fledge tantrum season in our house I need to pray to God for guidence too. WOW! This parenting stuff is so wonderfully powerful and challenging. Thank you again for posting what I need to read. Hang in there hopefull the Tantrum season will end soon!

Anonymous said...

As the mom of 2 grown sons, I can tell you that you voiced the frustration every Christian mom feels. We know what is at stake. We know we have a very real enemy who is seeking whom he might devour. We know we are called to be salt and light, the sweet aroma of Christ and ambassadors for Him. Because of what we know and what we are called to do, we struggle with the frailities of our flesh that rise up within us and war against the Spirit. Gal. 5:14 says, The flesh sets it sdesire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in oppostion to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please." Every Christain mom is battling exactly what you voiced when you wrote about your own struggles. It is actually the striving to contend for the faith that makes us stronger in the Lord, more fruitful for His kingdom and builds patience and perseverence in us (James 1:2-4). Press on, dear momma, press on. Blessings.