Tuesday 26 July 2016

When the Parenting Road Gets Rough // A Little Shaping and Moulding

Being a Mama has been the most profoundly rewarding and joyful role of my life so far. I truly feel so honoured and blessed to have been given responsibility for these three little lives. But being a Mama has also been the most painfully self-revealing, frustrating and exhausting challenge I have ever undertaken. Some days will go by in a blur of happy harmony... The kind of days I will return to in my memory when I'm aging and looking back on these years with rose-tinted spectacles. The kind of days when my camera is at hand and I capture the little details (like this day at our local pick-your-own farm!), take a deep breath and feel so very overwhelmingly blessed. But then there are other days when I fall in a collapsed heap at 7.30pm and feel guilty at the relief I feel that we've managed to get them all into bed in one piece.

This past fortnight has been one of the toughest runs of parenting I've had so far.

Defiance in a child is never an easy road to navigate, most especially because defiance in a child brings up all my own sin, as a mother, and puts it in stark, glaring light right alongside the sin in this particular child. This past week I have felt every emotion under the sun. The love for my children so incredibly strong, protective, consuming; countered by frustration, anger, disbelief and a general sense of being at the end of my tether.

Add in the 5am wake up calls from another of our children and you start to get the picture.
I could name and shame all the disagreeable behaviour we've been encountering these past couple of weeks. Never before has the saying "pick your battles" felt so apt... But the truth of the matter is, that when I point one finger at the aforementioned child, there are always three more fingers pointing back at me... And this run of behaviour has called me to take a good long hard look at myself too.

Elizabeth Elliot once wrote the wise words that... "The process of shaping the child, shapes also the mother herself" and these past two weeks are testimony to the truth of that statement. Never before have I felt so aware of my own inability and incompetences as a mother, never before have I felt so completely without answers; and being in that place feels awfully scary.

I like to be in control. And right now, there's a little person who's putting up a good fight to take that control for herself.

So many thoughts and emotions run wild when we're in the midst of a "battle", and restraining those emotions, and keeping some semblance of measure and self-control in the midst of it can feel like a challenge enough, without that little angry pout eyeing defiantly up at us. It's hard not to think "it's not meant to be like this", it's hard not to feel anger at the constant challenges, and most of all, it's hard not to just push on through demanding my will and my way.

And that's why seeking to train a child's heart is so much more complicated than simply instilling your will. I can do that. She's stubborn, but I am more so. The problem is that at the end of that, there are two people feeling frustrated, angry, misunderstood, and the whole event is most likely to reoccur the very next day (or ten minutes later...!)

Training her heart will take a step of humility from me... To desire her long term good over the immediate satisfaction of a "win", to remain consistent when I feel shattered and just want to give in, to demonstrate grace in discipline and model forgiveness when I actually just want to hold a grudge to make her see how frustrated I am.

To be like Jesus.

Humility. Grace. Forgiveness. Patience. Gentleness. Self-control. And standing firm and persevering in discipline and training, because I know that learning to respect your elders, to be kind with your words, to speak truth in love is what is best for our children.

These characteristics don't come naturally to me... and that is the beauty of it. In seeking to grow my little girl's heart, in seeking to shape her, I am, as Elisabeth Elliot put it, being shaped by the master-craftsman myself...

Oh, how glad I am that my worth and identity are not found in the successes or failures of my parenting!


  1. There is nothing quite like a tough spell in the parenting department to make us question ourselves. I also think that generally speaking as hard as it may be to admit, that we are normally a part of the behaviour. Because behaviours don't happen in a vacuum they are all action and reaction to what's happening around us. But I hope this phase passes quickly for you, and you can find the little changes to get your girly and yourself through it.
    I remember when I was teacher training they used to constantly remind us that people learn so much from teaching others; and never is that truer then when you're a parent and are constantly teaching young minds about the world, and learning all about ourselves in the process. x

  2. Thank you claire. It's encouraging to know I am not alone in the battle and for the reminder of God's grace in the midst of the frustrations x

  3. Experiencing a lot of difiance here too. A battle of negotiations every 10 minutes is exhausting. Having G-d's words and guidance is helping us all through it and reflective prayer at the end of each day helps us both say thank you and sorry to him and each other. I pray for strength and guidance for us both. X

  4. Lovely piece of writing, I too am going through it with Mr T and I am frustrated and exhausted by his behaviour lately and I only have one, fair enough I am 37 weeks pregnant which is not helping but to handle three makes you a superhero in my eyes. I hope it gets better soon x x x

  5. This post echoes just everything I am feeling and experiencing right now. You have expressed it in such a better way than I ever could. My goodness how comforting to read something so perfectly relevant to me and know I am truly not the only one.
    I hope you too know that you are not alone in this phase. This mama is right here with you!

  6. I'm so glad I read this. I nearly came on the laptop tonight to write a post with a title along he lines of 'change her attitude Father, but mine first' as I am in exactly the same boat. I know I need to change my behaviour to help her change hers. Thanks Claire and good luck, Mich xx


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