Parent God and Pushing Buttons

I’m well aware I’m not the first to suggest, grasp, imply, realize, or assert that being a parent is an exercise in awareness, a waking up to anew, and a humbling “A-ha, I get it now” experience of what it is to know God as Parent.

The year Elijah was 5 and bleeding over into this, his 6 year old year, brought changes to his behavior and our relationship. As a content, agreeable, rule-following, and considerate boy his whole life, at about 5 years old, he grew up and into his own self. He started to shift out of “Mom, I need you to help me make decisions and tell me what to do“, mode towards a, “I want to figure this out myself, I have questions about almost everything you say Mom, and I’m big enough to have my own ideas and my own energy and abilities to act on them”, mode.

In the meager amount of wisdom I’ve accumulated as a parent, and through a chat with my own mom, I gathered it

was his way of separating from me so he would be ready for kindergarten. This marked a childhood maturation to celebrate and affirm. Elijah was growing up, individualizing himself, and testing out all of the confidence

Eli creates Frigits marble track greatness

Eli creates Frigits marble track greatness

and skills we had built into his life’s foundation from our family.

As much as I would like to say I’ve fully embraced this process, it’s actually been difficult at times. There

are days when no matter what I say, Eli disagrees or questions it. His confidence sometimes sounds like arrogance or ingratitude. The desire to assert his own desires or ideas comes out as disobedience or not listening. The tension: affirm this independence, yet still be the parents we need to be offering guidance, direction, encouragement, and support.

Due to their birth date arrangement, while almost 2 years apart in age, Eli and Andi will be just one year apart in school. Yes, this means right now, without any real respite, is Andi’s separation, kindergarten prep year. Her transformation and growth process looks different than Eli’s and comes with the added bonuses of newly becoming a middle child and being home all day with Oakley and me this year. Andi’s daily reality

is impacted by our newest family member- which she loves, embraces, and lives out beautifully, but also feels as a slight to the time, attention, and cuddles I can give to her.

Andi's pre-k Christmas program

Andi’s pre-k Christmas program

Never quite as automatically obedient, with a fiery and passionate personality, vibrant, humorous and expressive, and yet also easily angered or frustrated, Andi brings amazing energy and joy to our family. She can also hurt any one of us with her words,

attitudes, or simply by whacking us with a toy (mostly the latter blows fall only onto Eli). While always deeply expressive and sweetly and freely loving, Andi is ramping up the emblazoned attitude of late.

When she’s screaming, yelling, stomping, “humph!”ing, or crying these days it can be incredibly hard to take a deep breath and slowly and gently parent her back into calmness. However, Drew said it well a couple weeks ago when he said, “Andi really wants to be pursued.” We see Andi wanting to make sure that we will love her, stick with her, and pursue her always, no matter what; her actions or attitude cann

ot push us away. I think when she falls apart and melts down, she needs most of all for me to stay calm and cool- if I can show her I can handle her, she will feel safe and okay. If she’s asking, “Will they still love me if I…” I hope we are responding with words and consistent actions that say, “YES!”, but know there are days I haven’t had the centeredness and strength to stay calm and we’ve melted down together!

In the throws of a normal and wonderful family Saturday this weekend, there were many of these nuances present: Eli didn’t listen, questioned my facts, and forgot his manners. Andi escalated into a full-out fit with tears and flopping before 9:45am and slammed a door around 2pm. While they were all three in the bath, (yes- a precious and sweet sibling occurrence for sure!), I realized being a parent is for me a profound way to understand God’s parental love for us.

Ephesians 5:1-2 in the Message says, “Watch what God does, and then you do it, like children who learn proper behavior from their parents. Mostly what God does is love you. Keep company with him and learn a life of love. Observe how Christ loved us. His love was not cautious but extravagant. He didn’t love in order to get something from us but to give everything of himself to us. Love like that.”

Humility is hard for me. Honestly, if I’m vulnerable here, a lot of times what I really want is for my kids to say: “Thank you Mom!”, “Wow, Mom, you did this for me?!”, “Gee thanks Mom, you worked really hard to give me that and I know it cost you something”, or “Sure, I’ll obey because I trust you.” It’s hard for me to love unconditionally; it’s easier to love when I get something in return. Alas, I’m far from being a faithful imitator of God as Parent, but I did Saturday appreciate God’s love towards me.

Oakley is 3 months old!

Oakley is 3 months old!

I felt like I heard God saying, “I define and enact unconditional love always…I love you when you give me nothing in return… I love you when you forget to notice and say ‘Thank You’ for all I’ve given to you and done for you… I have ideas and commands for your life motivated by my desire to protect and provide for you- you can trust me… Stop striving to control and create everything- be dependent, letting your weakness be an arena for my strength and power to come through… Please take a nap- I know you need rest.”

God is impeccable-Parent; I am at most a tiny, flawed, human, representation of the profound Love I desire my kids to know.

I know I need to grow and mature as a mom so that I love my kids without conditions. Perhaps the first step is sitting in God’s love for me, digging deep down into it, being more free, less interested in proving things.

Could it be that I’ll be a better parent when I become a better child?



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