Oh, this boy. He melts my heart...that's always a strange phrase to me when people use it. I think what I want to say is that my heart swells with joy when I look into his face, especially in the mornings when he comes out declaring, "Good morning, Mama! The sun is yellow!" I love to watch him learn and grow. He knows how to put his shoes on and clear his place at the table by himself. He unexpectedly walks up to me most days and says, "I love you, mama!" and can quote most of The Hungry Caterpillar. He drums on everything with my spatulas and everything he holds in his hands at some point becomes a guitar (be it my broom or a pencil). And it's these times of sweetness that I need to savor, to remember when the hard times come.
I really dislike labeling kids as "stubborn," I think this has such negative connotation. For truly, because of our sinful natures we are ALL stubborn and choose our own way all the time, refusing to listen to wisdom; we all do what is right in our own eyes (Prov. 3:7). With that said, I also think some children are more compliant than others so their "stubborn" ways go unnoticed or overshadowed by a sibling's. Regardless, any sinful, defiant behavior needs to be corrected and currently, I am in a tough season with my boy. Curren is my more "spirited" and challenging child and is pushing me to new levels of growth in my own spiritual life.
For example, he is an *extremely* picky eater. And has been for most of his little life. I haven't met many kids who are as selective about food as he or gets as angry as he does that he can't have what he wants (milk!). It has caused me to cry in recent days, it's such a frustrating battle. "No whinning," "food first, then milk," are common phrases he hears, and yet he continues to push, and push, and push. He's also been waking up early and getting in his sisters' beds at night. And he wants more water when he gets put to bed. And again, when he doesn't get what he wants, he gets frustrated. Oh, so frustrated and angry.
When days, hours, or minutes push me to utter discouragement (too many days recently!), I pray first. It's been helping a great deal; this new challenge in my parenting is causing me to seek the Lord's help anew. I try to encourage the positive areas I see in Curren, while gently and lovingly correcting his behavior (this can be so tough). In such dark moments, I remind myself of his sweet and gentle side: daredevil, adventure-loving, active, hilarious belly laugh, sweet right-cheek dimple, sharing toys with Kate, playtime with Maggie, helper in the kitchen, snuggler at night.
Thanks to my children, I see my own sinfulness in ways I never anticipated: I'm quicker to frustration, anger, joy-lessness, selfishness, *especially* when my children need me most--in their OWN sinful moments and it's almost always (always!) when I want to do my own thing--clean the kitchen, talk to a friend on the phone (and it's only a quick call, what the heck!), a playdate where I simply NEED mom time and want to visit with my friend while all the kids should play happily together, etc.). Talk about needing Christs's strength to not only help me examine my own heart, but to help my children do the same.
I'm continuing to find joy in my mothering. It's a sweet, humbling, and beyond-challenging job of shaping these little souls God has given to us. But, He gives strength and I'm thankful for that.