This is not the post I intended to write for today. In fact, I had something light-hearted, more oriented toward Thanksgiving, type of thing. Like a ham recipe or something. But that is not what is coming out so, seize the moment I suppose.
I’m just gonna get to it. The moment is this for me today. I have been fighting, with all that I have inside, a shockingly quick temper and deep seated anger and frustration. It simmers right below the surface, and I’m baffled at this person inside of me. It is also coupled with a despairing fear of how it’s affecting my boys and myself. Here is the rundown of what has been happening
I have two boys. They are 4.5 and basically 6. I wanted boys and I wanted them close. And I wanted them to love each other fiercely. Fierce is a word that rises to the top the most these days. But only because they fight all the stinking time.
I get in trouble for using words like always, never, all or not at all. I’m telling you, though…lately, it’s all the time. I’m completely fried. Wrecked most days as a mother. Drained as a person.
I’m going to put this on the internet in writing. But lately I have dreaded going home, cringed as my oldest opens the car door to get in after school, laid in bed and wanted to cry during rest time. When I hear the pitter patter of feet on the floors, I don’t feel sweet nostalgia, I feel defeated, beat down and so dang tired.
I know that those feet don’t mean giggling, playing boys. It means screaming, like crazy-town screaming, anger and competitive fury flowing from those precious little bodies. It will mean time outs and consequences and a mommy who can barely handle herself without losing her own s#$@. And it’s a soundtrack stuck on repeat.
I’ve tried everything. Pleading. Crying. Guilting. Discipline. Consequences. Cajoling. Bribing. Yelling. Escaping. Excess screen time to avoid dealing with it.
Nothing has worked.
(Okay, maybe the screen time works. But only because they turn into screen zombies and don’t even know they are in the same room as each other. Not a long term solution.)
I wanted to write this today because I’m desperate to know I’m not alone here. I know that I’m not, but maybe it’s because if you are going through something similar as a mother, or human, you need to know you are not alone too. I’m here and I can hear you.
Please please please, I’m not sure I need to be told that this is a season, that all kids fight, to cherish this stage cause I’ll want it back. Those things are very helpful sometimes. Not today. I would love to hear you relate but just not in a dismissive way. Cause this is hard.
Monday of this past week, Bret and I got into a bit of conflict. Which always seems to happen on Mondays, our day off, our family day. I think there are a couple reasons for this, one of which is that we have a real enemy who knows how vital this day of the week is for family unity and our marriage.
The other one is that as our schedules have shifted and life has filled up, we have slipped into some not so great patterns and habits. Namely, not praying much together or for each other. Luckily, Bret is brilliant and wise and he recognized this as he stared at my snotty, tear streaked face.
It’s not that I don’t think of praying for Bret and the boys. Or even do actually pray at random times for them. But in practice, spending dedicated time going before the Lord on their behalf has slipped to the side recently. Yikes talk about convicting. So the point is that our conflict led to this painful, yet valuable realization, and I believe it has deep application to the boys screaming at each other ALL day, every day.
Now. Back to what has not worked in this situation with my little men. I have gotten to the place where I assume my only solution is to read and research and try various “techniques” out. While I certainly believe there are discipline methods and tactics that could be tweaked in our house, this situation feels deeper than those answers can go.
Because when people are in conflict with each other constantly, whether they are 6 or 60, it usually has more to do with the individual hearts involved than any other factor. Man, I wish it wasn’t so, but it’s true.
The same is true when Bret and I have conflict. Yes, there are times we simply misread or misunderstand, but mostly it’s because we tend to bend towards our own selfish hearts.
I hate to say it, but our children have the same bent. They too, have deep rooted selfishness that will affect every relationship in their entire lives. Starting from the first time they grab a toy that some other baby wants. Alas, it begins. Well, at birth, actually.
What I am saying is that yes, there are some things we can work on, discipline wise, but I recognize that what is at stake here are their hearts. And how do hearts change?
Only one way that I know.
I have to pray. I have to ask. I can’t change them, only God can.
Unfortunately for me, and them, in my stress and angst and general overwhelmed state, I have simply not gone there in the right way. I have prayed desperate, in the moment prayers. Necessary for sure. I have acknowledged the need to do so, but I had yet to really go and ask. To ask God to work in them. To deeply affect their hearts.
I’m going to confess here that I fight shame in this weak spot of mine as a mother. Good gosh, as a human. But I’m just not going to go there. I’m going to do the opposite, I’m going to pray for God to forgive my shortsightedness, my weakness, my own deep-rooted selfishness.
I’m going to pray for Him to change these boys hearts. To give them selflessness, to help them to regard each other as more important than themselves. To give them love and real friendship with one another. To teach them self-control.
Not only is that what I am going to do, it’s what I have been doing this week. Here is the other kicker for me. In my own cynical struggles and bent, I have a hard time with believing that God won’t hear me or answer my pleas, unless I first go through a bunch of hoops or do a lot of hard struggling.
Hear me on this. The hoops talk? That is a lie. That is not how God works. The struggle part? Well. Sometimes that is the process. Sometimes, there is so much to learn in the waiting and the hard parts. But you know what else? Sometimes, He just is waiting for us to ask. And when we do, He is so excited to do what we are asking.
Now I’m not sure why I have such difficulty claiming and proclaiming when I believe He has answered a prayer of mine with immediate action. I think I am afraid that I am a fool. That it isn’t true. I’m usually caught off guard or even skeptical of when it appears God hears and responds to a prayer of mine immediately, Maybe like same day immediately.
I will even disclaim and work hard to convince myself that it was a fluke or circumstantial not God actually listening to my pleas and delighting in giving me what I have asked for.
Yet Wednesday afternoon I picked the boys up, and when Elliot got into the car, they didn’t scream at each other. They started to get frustrated and argue before we pulled out of the parking lot, so I told them to be quiet and I prayed out loud for God to help us. To give us peace. We went home, did responsibilities and they played for 45 minutes together with not a scream to note. I prayed for a long time that morning over each of them.
This week, I have prayed that prayer on repeat. Peace Lord, in this house. I have notecards for each of my people. I write bullet points of what I want God to do in their hearts, and I pray those things over them. I discuss my fears about their futures and confess the depths and roots of them with Him. The result? I’m tempted to disclaim lots of stuff here, but I’m not. He has heard me. And He is doing things in them and in our home. Oh wait…and in me.
Here’s the deal. I’m a mom and a wife, and that is what my life is oriented around currently. But maybe you don’t have kids or you are not married, and that does not matter one single bit. What matters is what are you doing with the heartache, the pain, the frustrations, the confusing things in your life. Google? Wine and girl talk? I can tell you from loads of dead end experience, those are mere bandaids.
I know that I know, that prayer is THE thing that works. It works not because it’s a magic pill or big cosmic hoop to jump through. It works because it’s a conversation with a loving Father. The person on the other side of it is the GOD of the universe. He deeply cares for you and your life and wants you to come to Him to relieve your burdens. He wants to help carry your heartache. I’m telling you, He is the only one who can.
Today I’m going to ignore my natural cynical bent, and grip tight the truth that He has heard me and is listening. I’m going to believe that the displays of peacefulness we have experienced this week are real, answered prayers. Not just flukes or because we took the legos away.
Is there something you have been gripped by lately? Struggling with? Broken hearted about? I’d love to add you to my notecards. 😉 Please comment below or if you’d prefer, you can email me at email@example.com
You are not alone.
*The lovely photos are from our favorite Florida Photography Erica Whitaker Photography.