One might think my journey of motherhood sounds like all fun and love in this household. And most days, it truly is. I adore my family: my husband and my daughter, and I would never trade this life for anything.
However, being pregnant (with all the raging hormones) and handling a strong-willed toddler can turn my world upside down within minutes. Especially when the toddler tantrums kick in, I sink furiously in the midst of schedules and to-do lists awaiting.
There have been days where I’d be clutching onto the edge–the edge of sanity, anger, madness. The words coming out of my mouth have not always been kind to my own child. Sometimes, my actions were spoken louder.
And today was just one of those days for me.
It started with a play date at one of my girlfriend’s house in the morning. Everything went well until we had to leave (as usual). She refused to put the toy away and insisted on taking it home with us. I explained gently to her that the toy does not belong to us and it had to be put away. My patience was very limited when she started screaming at me that she needed it. There was no grace in my words. The authoritative threat was thrown in. “You better listen… or else..”
After leaving my friend’s place, we had to run to the store to grab a few things. On the way there, she dropped something and insisted that I pick it up for her. I couldn’t do that; I was driving. My heart cringed when she threw a fit about it. So I decided to ignore her.
After arriving at the store, the battle (power struggle) began as she was adamant about not sitting in the cart’s child seat. She was fighting and squirming around my arms as I tried to force her into the seat. After two minutes of trying, I decided to leave. I could not do this today. My intensely stern look might have scared a few customers around us as I attempted to make her surrender to my simple instructions. “Sit in the cart or we are going home.” She knew I was not giving her an empty threat. And again, there was no grace. It was all about the authority figure.
Everything was under control in the store until she saw a toy at the check out line. She insisted on having it, and I knew her kicking and whining were about to begin. I reminded myself to be gentle since I had already been mean with her today. “Alright girl, listen. We don’t need this. We have a lot of toys at home.” Three minutes of gentle persuasion allowed her to let go of the toy and for us to leave peacefully.
Next I had to make a quick stop at a grocery store two minutes away from home. I thought to myself that it would be all good and was hoping she would continue listening to me. I shopped like a lightning bolt and got out of the store successfully (without her whining). There I was, thinking, yes, we can go home now.
Another battle started.
She refused to get into the car until she could pick up a tiny withered flower on the road. To my utter disappointment, and after several gentle reminders to not pick up things from the ground, I had to pick her up (with her kicking and screaming) and buckle her into her car seat angrily. So we screamed at each other. She wanted to hold on to the dirty flower and I wanted her to give it to me. Oh, I was boiling when she threw it away right in front of my face.
“You are not getting anything else today. You refuse to listen to me. You are done.” I slammed her car door and drove home while she went on with her tantrum.
The moment I got home, I banished her into the pack-n-play (where she takes her daily nap). She made a few requests via screaming which I chose to ignore. I gave her a hug, kissed her forehead, and closed the door.
And then I looked at the dishes undone, laundry unfolded, things cluttered around, and the to-do list for today, I crumbled in tears.
I sat down in front of the computer to take a deep breath. A real deep breath.
“Lord, I am sorry. I need more grace.”
My eyes welled up with tears as I reflected on my actions and reactions for today. I had not shown grace at all when confronted with power struggles. I wondered if I would ever get this whole mothering thing right — the art of guiding and nurturing and teaching.
I failed to live up to my own name. I completely lost my cool. I hate the feeling of being overwhelmed and out of control. I had not shown the love of Christ to my own child.
I have to get my act together.
FOUR WAYS I CAN MOTHER WITH GRACE:
1. Remove the authoritative pride
I will have to hug my child longer after conflicts. I will have to apologize when I am being rude. I can be strict and gentle at the same time. I have to look for, celebrate, and praise the uniqueness of my child’s talents, interests, and sense of humor.
2. Serve unconditionally
This does not mean to give into unnecessary requests, but to serve, because we pour out unmerited favor through instruction, encouragement, correction, and discipline. I have to be selfless rather than selfish.
3. Speak life
Speaking words that will uplift my child rather than tear her down. Speaking kind words goes beyond a thousand miles. Even during conflict I have to remind my child how loved she is.
“Kind words are like honey – sweet to the soul and healthy for the body.” Proverbs 16:24
4. Show kindness at all times
This is because kindness shows God’s amazing love. When I choose to show kindness in the midst of turmoil, I am choosing to forgive and forbid anger to build. Instead of inflicting guilt as a means to an end, God’s grace speaks to the heart. If I want my child to understand God’s grace, I have to give her grace. I have to create an atmosphere of grace at home with unmerited kindness. I have to set a good example.
So I need more grace.
I understand completely that grace also offers discipline and correction, but I have to do so with respect for my child’s dignity and concern for her restoration and growth. I have so much to learn.
As a young mom, I can only surrender this whole motherhood thing to the Lord and pray for more grace.
Yes. More grace.
His grace is enough for me. For our daughter.