I am the proud, exhausted, and often agitated mother of three. I am also the main character in one of the books my children like to read . . . “The VERY Cranky Bear”.
I never thought I would struggle with anger and frustration with my kids. For years my husband and I dreamed of having children. We were unable to conceive, but the Lord graciously gave us three beautiful, adopted children.
The Spirit has been convicting me about my need to seek God for strength. I get so frustrated because the VERY Cranky Bear seems to rear its ugly head every weekday morning. How do I stop this cycle of frustration and agitation? Each morning I wake up and tell myself, “TODAY I am going to love and enjoy my children. TODAY I will speak softly - never raising my voice. TODAY will be a productive day for the Lord. TODAY kindness, love, patience, joy, and peace will flow from my mouth and will be like sweet honeycomb to my little ones. Yes, TODAY will be glorious and victorious.” Yet before a smile can even break across my lips . . .
MOM! Abby's out of her crib and she just peed all over the floor! . . . MOM! Lydia just hit me in the head with her glass slipper . . . MOM! Byron looked at me and I don't like it! . . . Kids, why is there water all over the bathroom floor, and why are there whoppers – oh wait, why is there POOP on the carpet?? ABBY! Get your diaper back on! . . . MOM! Abby's eating the play dough and she's not sharing! . . . MOM! I got my hair stuck in a fan. HELP!!!!!! . . . Byron, you have had two hours to eat your bowl of cereal. PLEASE eat your bowl of cereal!! . . . MOM! Abby busted her lip! . . . MOM! I don't feel so good. I need to (barf) throw up . . . MOM! I got poop all over my hands when I went potty. See! Smell it!! . . . Uh, oh!!!! MOM!!! Byron just broke your picture! . . . MOM! Abby ate ALL of my lipstick! . . . MOM! Ly-ia hit me! . . . MOM! Abby won't share! . . . MOM! Byron won't share! . . . MOM! Lydia won't share!! . . . MOM!!!!!!!!!!!!!
All the while, I am trying to home school, potty train, clean up breakfast, deal with a two year old that cries and screams ALL morning long (which may be from her CONSTANT staph infections, constant ear infections, the terrible twos, or perhaps it's merely her sinful nature!), answer the phone, wash clothes, remind my two year old to go potty again, straighten up the house, get everyone dressed, make beds, read books to the kids, prepare lunch, change my two year old's soaked pull-up because I forgot to remind her to go potty AGAIN because Lydia is still forgetting that “u” does not make the “yu” sound and 3-2 is not 4, make myself look presentable for Daddy when he comes home at lunch (because I haven't had time to shower and I have been wearing the same outfit for the past three days), and oh wait – I thought I forgot something! I still need to go potty myself – three hours later!!!
People tell me that I need to enjoy this age because they grow up so quickly. Indeed, there are moments with my kids that I will treasure for a lifetime. I love their sweet innocence and how they so quickly forgive and love unconditionally. I love their slobbery kisses and the out of the blue moments when they tell me that they love me. Being a mom is wonderful . . . yet, it is also difficult. Nothing is more rewarding . . . and NOTHING is more exhausting! Yet, my most profound discovery is that nothing brings out my sinfulness more than being a mom. I discover that beneath my millimeter layer of kindness, is a heart that is quick to be angry, selfish, far from self-controlled, and often far from God. You see, I know the truth that I can do nothing apart from Christ. This is not a cute saying, fit for flowery pictures to decorate your dining room. This is solid truth. I can do NOTHING apart from Christ Jesus. I cannot even love my children without Christ Jesus. Without Him, I fail miserably.
As I was reading to the kids this morning from Lydia's Bible study book, I was convicted. The Spirit had already been convicting me of my need for help from Christ alone. Last night during congregational prayer, I found myself praying and asking God for help because I know that I fail (often) as a wife, mother, and friend. As much as I want to love and serve my family and others, my love for self often saturates my motives. This rotten flesh!
Today we were reading about Samuel and Saul (I Samuel 8 – 10:27).
Saul's kingdom was not a joy to him but a burden, because he did not know how to take care of it. And he would not go to God for help, or take advice from Samuel, the wise old prophet who had made him king. Samuel loved Saul, and was bitterly disappointed that this first Hebrew king should forget God and think only of having his own way. King Saul did not have peace and joy in his life because he tried to fight God's enemies in his own strength. (Studying God's Word, Christian Liberty Press)
For weeks I have been fighting God's enemies (selfishness, anger, pride, joylessness, etc.) with MY own strength. Weekday mornings weighed heavy because I lacked peace and joy in my heart. My children had become a burden, instead of a joy, because I (myself) do not know how to take care of them – or perhaps, rightly love them. I was trampling a foot the very gifts that God had given to us . . . He had heard our cries and opened our womb, and yet I found myself looking at them as a trial instead of a bountiful blessing. Forgive me, Father.
Thank you, Lord, for opening my eyes. I am a sinful and selfish mom, wife, daughter, and friend. I pray that I will be like Christ in all that I do. Help me to be patient, joyful, loving, full of peace, faithful, gentle, self-controlled, kind, and good. Thank you for all the wonderful, special moments I have with my children. Thank you for giving me the awesome task of training my children. Help me to be a reflection of Christ Jesus. I pray for your help, especially on the weekday mornings when I feel like everything is out of control and I am tempted to raise my voice and bark out my frustrations. Remind me, Spirit, to seek Christ in all that I do because a part from Him I can do nothing . . . And thank you, Lord, for the Fruit of the Spirit chant that my children and I have learned together - otherwise, I fear I would have never remembered all the fruits mentioned above!
Come Lord Jesus, come!