Parenting is hard stuff. Can I get an amen??
New parents think the exhaustion of middle of the night feedings and sleep deprivation are the absolute hardest and may never end this side of eternity. Add on diaper blowouts and kids that spit up on every single outfit you own – theirs AND yours – and well, it can be physically draining. Been there. Done that. Got a spit-up t-shirt x3.
Then, that phase closes and you roll right into the terrible toddler tantrum throw-downs. Oh, wait – you didn’t have those? Maybe it’s just our family. Maybe not.
We thought this phase was gonna be short and golden until we had that second toddler who threw us for a loop and decided to continue into the 2s, 3s, and 4s with the tantrum throw-downs. And I thought to myself, “Wow, this part of parenting is not for the weak and I might not survive.”
I found myself sitting outside my 3 year old’s room one day – holding the door shut as she screamed and cried and beat on the door – all while I bawled my 8 month preggo eyes out asking Jesus to help me because I couldn’t do this parenting thing any longer.
All throughout these tough seasons I’ve had those with more experience tell me, “Oh, just wait for the teenage years. It’s an entirely different level of emotional exhaustion.”
To which I secretly rolled my eyes and thought, “Yeah, but you actually get SLEEP!!!”
We aren’t there yet – our oldest is 9.5 years. But last night, I’m pretty sure we got our first dose of this new level of child-raisin’ that is to come.
It was by far our hardest night of parenting and y’all, it was so awful.
When a child breaks your trust in a big way and then has to face the consequences for their disobedient actions, it’s hard to process. It’s hard to know exactly how you’re supposed to react. It’s hard to suddenly and terrifyingly realize that you’re the one in charge and you decide the consequences for the broken trust.
You remember that this is the reality of humanity – we make mistakes, do things we aren’t supposed to do and get into trouble.
All of us have sinned. I remember that being one of the first Bible verses I ever memorized at church camp as a little girl.
For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. Romans 3:23
Now that sin is showing up in real life as you watch your oldest child walk through a series of bad decisions that were against the rules and it breaks your heart in two.
Kayla has been dishonest with us related to something at school and it’s been happening since August. AUGUST, I SAID. I feel like mom of the year for just now figuring out her divisive plan.
You struggle between shock that your child could do something like this and guilt that you should have been watching more closely to keep it from happening.
You get torn between being too hard on them and breaking their spirit while at the same time knowing they need to be disciplined and learn a lesson from their actions.
I’ll be honest – my initial reaction was harsh. I was angry, mad and more frustrated than I’ve been in a long time. I wanted to ground her for 10 years and totally cancel summer camp. But, oh wait. I’ve already paid summer camp deposits, so scratch that idea, hahaha!
She ran upstairs crying like the world had ended while Brian and I stood trying to gather facts and exactly what had gone wrong. The more we dug, the angrier I got.
Brock and Kylie just observed in shock. Poor kiddos. I don’t know they will ever make this same mistake with what happened at our house last night.
Remember that scene from the Christmas Story, “Daddy’s gonna kill Ralphie!!”
Oh, yes. But it was more like, “Mama’s gonna kill Kayla!!”
We both calmed down enough to end the night as a family sitting in the girl’s room like we do almost every night that comes.
We talked about why her decisions were not okay and our reasons for her actions being against the rules. We explained that God trusted us to raise them to the best of our ability and that it is our responsibility to teach them right from wrong.
We laid out the consequences of how things were going to be very different over the coming weeks (or MONTHS in my opinion lol) and set expectations for her behavior.
We explained above all that we still loved her wildly and incredibly. We wrapped our arms around her and embraced our bubbly first-born girl.
And then I ran across the street to talk to my own mom and dad to make sure I hadn’t ruined my child…
This parenting thing – there’s no road map, there’s no easy button. There’s no one-size-fits-all answer.
There’s only one thing I know for sure that will work for me and you: prayers to a God that is bigger than any of our mistakes. He knows our faults, failures and shortcomings – as parents and as children. And yet, He still loves us wildly and incredibly too.
On the good days and bad days we can remember the love we’ve been shown by a good, good Father.
See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. 1 John 3:1
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