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.