Saturday, April 27, 2013

Learning As I Go

I remember many times before I had kids when I was so harsh in my thoughts toward other moms and their 'bratty, undisciplined children'.
I really, honest to God believed that 
When I have kids, they will never throw a tantrum or talk back.
They will be taught better and will always obey because I will have awesome parenting skills.
My kids will be sweet and well behaved even if they are 2 hours late for their nap and hungry.
Are you laughing at me? It's fine. Get it all out. I'm laughing with you.
I was SO naive.
Now I have an almost-two-year-old (2 in 2 months), and I realize that while parenting, discipline, environment, teaching, etc. all matter in how a child behaves,
ultimately kids are born with A MIND OF THEIR OWN. They develop personalities, and all the discipline in the world doesn't change personality.
And it doesn't change the fact that we are all born sinners. Anyone who has ever doubted that fact just needs to spend 5 minutes around a toddler.
They are cute, funny, huggable, lovable, adorable.....
and selfish, demanding, impatient, volatile, manipulative, and downright difficult sometimes.
Yet they are such a gift from God in the unmeasurable amount of joy they bring.
You love them and you, well, you just love them!
And if you can't beat 'em, join 'em!
Actually I'm being serious.
I've found that when Addison is being cranky and difficult, it's (usually) either because she's in need of a nap, or in need of her mama's attention.
So if she's not tired, I can usually get her out of her funk by dropping my own agenda and realizing that most likely whatever I was doing can wait.
If I get down on the ground and just play (like I said, join them!), usually all troubles melt away.
Just like that. It's hard sometimes...I fall into the trap of thinking all these other things are soooo important that they can't wait, but really they can. I'm the only one who will notice the list waiting.
The list is patient. My kiddos are important.
(Although I would just like to clarify:
I don't believe that they need my undivided attention every waking minute. I personally think that is unhealthy for kids and parents alike. That's just my opinion though!)

I'm learning to parent the heart, not just the behavior.
That's a saying I read in a book I think.
It stuck with me, and I've contemplated what that looks like for sometime now.
I find myself parenting the behavior way more often than the heart, but then justifying it by telling myself that when she's a little older, I'll work on parenting the heart more.
It's hard...I mean, just how do you parent the heart of a one-and-a-half-year-old?
I don't have the answers.
If you do, fill me in please.
The one thing I know that I know that I know is:
Showing Jesus to our kids through our daily life speaks volumes more than all the discipline and training in the world....
The way we act toward our spouse, the grocery store clerk, the stranger or the person in need.
The gentleness and patience and love we show when we have had it up to here.
The joy we have in our hearts. The thankfulness we have for material and immaterial things we have.
Letting our kids see us praying alone or with a friend. Praying with our kids, even for the little things like a scraped knee. Letting them see us in the Word daily spending time with our Father.
The amount of time we spend serving others. The list could go on.
Our kids just need to see Christ in us.
And that, is a high calling!

I for one am going to stop stressing about how embarrassing that tantrum at church was ("oh, what will the other ladies think of my mothering skills!?"),
or obsessing over her saying 'please' and 'thank you' after practically every, single thing (uh, guilty as charged), or feeling like a failure when she grabs a toy away from another kid instead of joyfully giving it to them--hello, she's one!
Yes, I will continue to teach and train her as the Bible clearly tells us to do,
but I want to be sure my focus is much more on setting the example.
Showing my babies Jesus. Walking out love in the little and the big things,
minute by minute,
day by day, consistently, not just when I'm feeling up to it or having a good day myself.
Parenting their hearts, because that's ultimately what lasts.

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