As I sat in the middle of the baby pool the other day, and let my daughters and some other kids pour water over my head and giggle with delight, I thought to myself, “Ah, this is the life. My kids are happy. I am making other kids happy. Today I am a good mom.” Of course, it wasn’t too hard to sit there and get cold water poured on me when it was 90 degrees out. So at that moment, it wasn’t too hard to be a “good mom.”
However, the day before, I spent about 20 minutes holding onto my crying, screaming 3½ year old as she said over and over again, “I want to go swimming RIGHT now. I want to go swimming RIGHT now.” And even then I was pretty calm, “No, Emma, I have already told you we aren’t going swimming right now. We have other things to do today and we will swim tomorrow.” But no matter how many times I said it or how calmly I spoke, her message was the same over and over again. And the ironic thing was, she was about to be disciplined for continuing to say this once we told her the answer was no. But I couldn’t discipline her in her current state. I had to wait until she calmed down. Even after I left her for a few minutes, and found that the wading pool had been taken down for the day, she insisted that, “No, it’s still there and I want to go swimming RIGHT now!” She wasn’t thinking or speaking rationally. But hey, she’s a 3 year old in the midst of a tantrum. This was not “the life” and I was not enjoying this at all.
Motherhood has its ups and downs. I watch and listen as my two older girls play together so nicely and hear my 2 year old offer her sister some cookies or pretzels. “Oh how great it is that they play together like that. And Hannah is sharing without being told! Yeah! We’re doing something right.” And then, less than five minutes later, I hear screams coming from the same room as Hannah teases Emma about being “this” or “that” or Emma grabs a toy from Hannah that she deems hers. “Ugh, why can’t you two get along?” is my thought which I often voice in a louder than necessary voice.
Recently I’ve noticed Emma being the Mom as Hannah is the child. Nice game. Except when I hear Emma speaking harshly to Hannah about something. “Emma, you don’t talk to your sister like that!” And then I realize, she is being the mom, and who does she learn that harsh voice from? It must be me. Surely I don’t speak like that all the time? And yet, when I do, is it necessary? I want the girls to know I’m serious, but am I loving at the same time? I don’t want Emma to speak that way to Hannah, but in truth, I speak that way to both of them at times.
I always considered myself an easy-going person. And yet, if my children knew the meaning of easy-going, and you asked them if that described me, I doubt the answer would be yes! How can I lose my patience with them so quickly?
Sometimes I get so frustrated when they disobey or forget a rule for the 100th time. “How many times do I have to tell you not to jump around Layla?!” And yet, God quickly reminds me that I disobey Him or “forget” his laws way more than 100 times. “Julie, they are my children, just like you are. Show them mercy. Give them grace. Speak the truth…in love. Nurture them.”
It’s a 24-7 job, and sometimes I feel I am not cut out for it. Yet my children are so forgiving. Less than five minutes after I lose my cool and speak harshly with them about something, they come running to me for comfort when they fall and hurt themselves. Why would they want to come to ME for comfort? I’m the mom, I suppose. It’s one of the perks of the job.
Sometime I apologize to the girls for not being patient. And a few times, when Emma notices that I am getting angry, she says, “Mommy, pray to God so you won’t get angry.” It’s funny the emotions that come when she says that. I am often not ready for such a word at that moment, and it makes me more angry. Angry that she is right. At the moment, I don’t want to let go of my anger and let God change me, but I want Emma to learn to pray to God in situations like this, so I try to pray, and it calms me down. Out of the mouth of babes…
I have a lot to learn and a long way to go in this journey of motherhood. God, give me wisdom. Protect my children from my faults. Guide me in the way I should go. And, oh yes, thank you for the three wonderful blessings you have given me to teach me all about motherhood.