Deep breath in, inflate the stomach, let it out.
Try to fight the urge to feel guilt over how little you stop to breathe these days.
A small moment of internal quiet gives way to a loud argument between the boys: “He hit me! I had it first!”
The constant mediator, I insert myself and help them work it out. Or, I bring one into the other room to talk. Or, I give it a few moments to see if they will figure it out on their own.
Many times, these situations make me feel less adequate, less knowledgeable. Did I handle that the “right” way? Are they getting what they need?
All too often we are seen for what we do to provide for our children’s constant physical needs: washing their clothes, feeding them, wiping their bottoms, but the real work comes in the every day responses- the constant guidance as they are figuring out how to position themselves in the world around them.
That- if we are truly honest with ourselves, is the hardest work. It is the most tiring work of all.
Sometimes, I’d give anything to have someone around just to alleviate the instructing, the correcting. It’s like they’re the bowling balls and I’m personally providing the bumpers on either side of the lane so that they don’t go spiraling off into the gutter. It is a lot to manage.
But this, dear mom, is the work that lasts. The effort we put in, day in and day out, will one day show themselves to be the building blocks of their understanding of the world. Kindness, integrity, responsibility. Not hurting other people, or themselves; knowing what to do when they’re wronged, how to handle the big, big feelings that overtake them.
Will we get it right all of the time? Of course not. We will slip up and fail and show them the opposite of what we’re trying to get across when we lose our cool or forget ourselves in a moment of weakness. This, though, is not the end of the world because they also need to see that we are human.
One day, Lord willing, our kids will get to the root of where this love, responsibility, and integrity comes from. One day, they will figure out that there is a loving God of the universe who cares deeply for them and all of their individual intricacies. A God that loved us enough to promise help in times of uncertainty, and a spirit to live within us that is infallible.
Until then, we can do what we can to point them on their way, bring the bumpers up on the sides of the lane, and somehow hope that they will see the source of it all in our own hearts for them.
Do you remember the first time you imagined your child, before they were in the womb? The spark that formed and grew inside of you as you thought of all the things you dreamed for them? What about when you held them for the first time… the tears that welled up in your eyes as you felt your heart expand in new ways? There is a gratitude in those moments that can’t be put into words.
I believe that there is a beautiful design there, a purpose in the remembering. There is a reason we felt all of those feelings early on, building a foundation of pure love before we’re hit with the difficulties of toddler-hood. That spark will always be there, it is always available. You can access it if you only remember. You can make it available to your kids as you hug them after a tantrum that lasted an ungodly amount of time, or when you remind them that you will always love them, no matter what.
Nothing about releasing that kind of love to our children is easy. In fact, many times, it’s counter-intuitive. But it is so worth it. It’s the daily bread that will get them through. It’s the nudge that they will ultimately need to see with clear eyes what is waiting on them: the hope of a life abundant.
So if you’re having a hard day, remember that this is the job you’re doing. This is the work you are putting in each and every day. It may be unseen by the masses but is seen clearly by the front seats of heaven. You are being cheered on, and you have everything you need inside of you to make it to tomorrow.