Parents of toddlers know the struggle of how emotionally unstable they can be. And an episode could happen at any time. Then left with the decision of giving them a piece of your mind or patiently getting on their level. Explaining that licking the floor and purring like a cat is not appropriate in public places. And if you are in the “why?” phase, well forget it. Either way, very probable that someone is watching you and judging you with their eyes. And even if they aren’t looking at you they are judging you in their mind.
I am 32 years old with two boys who are 9 and 4 right now. The boys could not be more different in their personalities, looks, and tempers. In his 4 year old career of being in this world, Max, has learned every single button I have. He knows how to turn everything around and use it against me. He even puts one hand on his hip and one shaking a finger at me while he does it. Just as if he was replicating exactly what I told him the day before.
As a young parent with my first born, I rarely let him down much less make a mess. When he was really little I was terrified of him playing in something that I would have to clean up later. Comparing myself now to the 23 year old mom I was, I have far more patience now. However, Max can bring the worst out of me. Apparently when I was 23 and with just one child I had nothing else to do, but hold a cute little boy and play with him. Now I am lucky if we can get through 3rd grade science homework, eat a balanced dinner, bathe, and spend time with one another. So far my parenting career has taught me to act rather than react. Children catch on really quickly how you handle situations. They will use it to their advantage now and when they are teenagers. I have yet to master this talent as you are about to see.
Now, I love my boys with all of my heart. However, I want you to really get some perspective for the story I am going to tell you. On a beautiful Saturday morning, Max and I ventured out to Hobby Lobby. Really useless for me to go there as I realize I want to redecorate my entire house, but I also have a budget. I know how the shopping adventure will go from the beginning, and that should have been my clue. If Max doesn’t want to ride in the cart, I have to hold him. Max is 4 years old and weighs around 32lbs. Ok, so I do not HAVE to hold him. But the alternative is a small child running up and down each aisle with or without me. I am ok with him not being glued to me, but there are crazy people out there. And Max just sees a giant game of hide and seek about to happen. So I gently tell him that he needs to stay close to me while I look around. The second time I have to tell him my tone sounds like I mean business, Max looks at me and just smiles and runs away. So naturally I say “Max, 1, 2…” and he comes running back as if he knows what the punishment will be. Now I am on the 5th time saying this to him and I am conflicted on if I need to get really angry with him so he knows I mean it this time. Or if I should give it one more time and maybe by some miraculous turn of the Earth he might stay with me until we leave the store.
If you have stayed with me this long I think you know where I am going. I was about to lose my ever loving mind. How can this small individual really think he can get away with not listening to me? I provide him a place to sleep, feed him, and take him where he needs to go every day. Why doesn’t he know how this parent, kid thing works? Then I realize that I haven’t been setting a very good example for him.
I am inadequate without Jesus in my life. I am a sinner and have to ask for forgiveness daily and I find my comfort in Jesus, the one who already died for me to wash away my sins. He knew me before I was born, He knew all the choices I would make to bring me right to that very store on that very day. Sometimes I want to be that parent that comes in to save the day with encouraging words. Or cleaning up a skinned up knee and topping it off with my kiss. If we aren’t too careful our children will see us as their savior. The one that will save them from the bullies at school or a terror of a little brother at home. Rather we should show our children we need Jesus too and look to Him for guidance.
Every ounce of my anger that I was feeling toward my little toddler turned to tears in an instant. I held him close as we sat on the floor and prayed. We prayed for mom to check her temper and Max to be a better listener. Never once did I look around to see who might be watching or judging. But I wasn’t praying this super loud either. With a gentle crack in my voice and tears running down my face we sat there for that 5 second prayer. I am also pretty sure that is the longest Max has ever sat down at one time. That prayer didn’t do much for Max’s listening skills that day and I did not keep my temper down the entire rest of the trip. But I do hope he might remember it one day. I do know what I want my boys to know about Jesus. I want them to know that I love Jesus and I depend on Him and how to let Him into my heart. As a mother to boys there is so much I can teach them. And at the same time only so much I can teach them. I can lead by example and get them involved in things I know are important.