One of the many questions I want to ask God when I have a chance is “Why did my kids act like heathens when I went out of my way to do something special for them?”
Time and time again, I find myself in the same situation. I go out of my way to take the boys to do something fun, something they want to do, something they love, and as soon as the moment is over, they lose their ever-lovin’ minds. All good behavior goes out the window, and it’s attitude city with a side of opposition for good measure. This pattern makes me crazy and has on more than one occasion led to declaring, “I’m never doing anything nice for you all again!!!”
So I should have known. I should have expected the evening to go like it did. I should have a had a battle plan. Of course not waiting until the last minute might also have been a better plan as well. You win some, you lose some. You see, Wednesday evening we quickly rounded up the kids after school and headed out to Cabela’s to meet Santa and get a picture with him, you know since he’s supposed to be arriving in less than a week. All the boys were excited and ready to get there. It was going to be great. [Side bar – Bass Pro and Cabela’s are the ultimate stop for a Santa visit. Free photos, free crafts and entertainment, and cute plush give-a-aways during the week. Bonus! For a Wednesday evening just a few days before Christmas, we waited all of 5 minutes. Can’t beat that.]
I mean look at those sweet faces! Everyone cooperated, listened mostly, and didn’t cry when it was time to sit on the big man’s lap. Pictures procured, we decided that due to traffic, we’d just grab a quick dinner somewhere close by. Within minutes of leaving Santa, it was like a trigger flipped and we had full on ungrateful tweener attitudes. All throughout dinner the oldest two bickered and fought. We still had to make a stop to Costco and I was tackling it alone. You can guess where this is heading.
Midway through our shopping, my nerves were shot and my patience long gone. I set some clear boundaries and consequences before we even got out of the car. After all, I knew it’d be a battle. From the moment we entered the store it became apparent that no amount of quiet reminding was going to help. They were unhinged, and I finally snapped. It was a sight to be seen. A crazy lady dragging one kid by his collar, while simultaneously whisper yelling at my 8-year-old for being out of control and not obeying me, all the while trying to comfort the baby who was beginning to unravel too. To say we embodied all that is a HOT MESS might be an understatement. I was that lady.
I wish I could tell you I regained my composure after a bit of calm breathing and prayer. I didn’t. Calm breathing and prayer didn’t even cross my mind at the moment. I just wanted to get out of the store as quickly as possible to minimize any further damage. Mom anger had fully taken over and was raging. Raging in the car, raging as we unloaded, raging as I hustled everyone into bed before a bad situation got even worse.
It wasn’t until I sat down with my oldest for his nighttime prayer that my heart began to soften. I was still furious, oh yes, but I did my best to stay calm as I advised my sweet boy that when we pray, not only should we be giving thanks and asking God for help, but we also need to be confessing our sins from the day. Naturally, I was quick to point out his – things like, disobeying our parents or treating our brothers in a mean way were already on the tip of my tongue. And as I pointed out his sins, I could feel my own heart-stirring inside me. How often did I do the same thing – praise and request but not confess? What sins did I need to confess and ask for forgiveness? Maybe how I went full-on Cruella DeVille in the middle of Costco? ::gulp:: I could hear God speaking directly to me, with my very own words.
Still full of agitation, I decided a little time in the sanctuary of the treadmill, a place that humbles me to my core every time, might be the thing to turn my mind and heart around. While sweating out my frustration, I prayed for God to forgive my short temper. For God to give me patience and mental toughness when my earthly mind just snaps. For God to fill me with his spirit to see my sweet, rebellious children as the precious children they are. I also tossed in there for good measure that He help guide me to the resources that will lead my heart to new and better ways. Because the more I ran, the more I settled on the fact that I alone can’t do this parenting gig right 100% of the time. I need Him more than ever to help me navigate the choppy waters and ease my turbulent and sinful heart.
Here the thing friends – mom anger is real. For some reason, we hate addressing it within the Christian circles because there’s a stigma with it. The idea that “good mothers would NEVER lose their marbles and explode on their kids! They know exactly what to say and how to say it in a loving and firm way.” permeates women’s circles when the truth is WE ALL have those moments. For some, it may be more often than others. But it’s always there. That range of emotions that overtakes us in a snap, and is unlike anything many of us have ever experience. At Costco, in aisle 5, it got the best of me.
I’ve worked through plenty of mom studies to know that laying on the guilt will do no one in this house any good. Yes, I totally messed up. Yes, I failed in those moments, but those moments do not define me, as a person or a parent. It’d be easy to wallow in self-shaming, but that’s not what our good Father intended for us. God gave us His son so that our sins would be forgiven. All our sins. Big ones and little ones. Including when we stumble as parents.
I’m so grateful for Jesus, for his gift to me that I most certainly do not deserve. It’s with that peace and grace that I can rest knowing that God is with me and that He is guiding me as I parent my three boys, in the good times and the crazy times.
So if you’re finding yourself struggling, take a moment and remember –
For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. Ephesians 2:8-10 ESV (emphsis mine)
God knew exactly what he was doing when He planted you and me in the spaces we are in. He knew how we’d succeed and fail. He knew where we would stumble and require lots of grace and extra help. And yet, He still said, “yes, she’s the one!” That’s a powerful truth friend. Even in our mistakes and missteps, we are exactly where we need to be, and by God’s good grace we will be OK in the end.