Tag Archives: parenting

I am a Patient Soul! No seriously!

Speaking of vision boards.

My theme for 2014 has been patience. I pasted, “I am a patient soul” in the center of my board. I was trying to do that thing where you speak life, purpose, vision… Yeah.

If you’re a Christian or have ever been around a Christian, you’ve probably heard us warn the less initiated about prayers for patience. Typically God answers that request with “opportunities for growth.” Apparently one learns patience by facing challenges. By being confronted with real-life scenarios that fly in the face of any naive imaginings about holiness and personal enlightenment. (I’m not bitter!)

I have a child with Oppositional Defiant Disorder. And, my God, it’s hard. For seven years I rejected the diagnosis. I tried to speak life, purpose, vision into my child and into our home. I prayed and fasted. I cast out demons. Seriously.

Paul wrote a letter to the people in Corinth about a troubling issue, a “thorn in his side.” He wrote about how he earnestly asked God to remove it, until finally God responded, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” In the very next sentence Paul wrote, “most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” But I wonder how much time passed between God’s “no” and Paul’s boasting. Was it a couple seconds, or days… or months? Because when I realized God was pretty much saying the same thing to me, I spent a couple years being angry with Him.

Fast forward to this year, and the whole “patient soul” thing. The anger has passed, but in the meantime, I have never been so… challenged. At least once a week I wish I hadn’t put it on my board–even though I know I had to. I mean, it wasn’t my idea to put it there. It had to be on my board.

This isn’t one of those posts where I’ve got it all figured out. It’s true, I’m no longer angry at God, but I ain’t boasting yet! I know God has invited me to call myself patient because He has something in mind. With each difficult encounter I have to choose to trust that God’s grace is enough, that my weakness is the perfect vessel for his strength. It’s hard! I sometimes struggle to believe any good can come of this.

But I’ve seen God do more with less.

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Angry Moms

19178313I read an interesting article in Parenting Magazine a couple weeks back, and I decided right then to discuss it on my blog! The article’s called “Mad at Dad,” and it appeared in their February 2009 School Years issue.

Here’s an excerpt:

These are the kinds of things we see parodied on TV sitcoms, where bumbling husbands get laughs for feeding the kids frosting sandwiches and sending them to school in scuba gear. These are the kinds of things we moan and groan about when we get together with our other mom friends, often playing our irritations for laughs. Honestly though, it’s not that funny. None of us signed up to live in a sitcom. [Emphasis mine.]

The article goes on to share the results of a survey of over 1,000 mothers. The results surprised me. I honestly thought my frustration was a rarity. I assumed most families were trucking happily along, that in this day and age most dads were doing their fair share to bring about a happy home. Based on the results, there are a lot of guys who are doing it right. However, more moms than I thought are angry. And now that I know I’m not alone, I want to talk about it.

Here are some of the mom statistics (of the 1,000+ women surveyed):

  • 46% get irate with their husbands once a week or more.
  • 44% say dads don’t notice what needs to be done around the house or with the kids. (This figure jumps to 54% for moms with 3 or more kids.)
  • 40% say their husbands seem clueless about the best way to take care of kids.
  • 31% say their husbands don’t help with the chores.
  • 33% say their husbands aren’t shouldering equal responsibility.
  • 50% say their husbands get more time for themselves.
  • 60% don’t tell their friends what they’re going through.

Okay people, here’s the deal. Rather than let this become a bashfest (and it very easily could–with me as the ringleader), what I really want is perspective. This is 2009! I thought we were past this whole “Me man, me drink beer; you woman, you barefoot, make baby and sandwiches” thing!*

This is what I want to know:

  • Men, seriously. Do you* really not notice these things? If the answer is an honest no, hasn’t your wife mentioned them? If so, why aren’t you doing anything about it?
  • Perhaps men* believe this is what women were “meant” to do, so we should just suck it up and do it. But if we’re really meant to be satisfied with this, why aren’t we? More importantly, does it matter to you that we aren’t satisfied?
  • Maybe men* believe they’ve done their share at the office. But … we work too, whether it’s in the office or at home with the kids! Let’s be real here!

I’m just not buying the assertion that because I’m a woman, I have some special perspective on parenting and household duties. Men are intelligent, strong, able-bodied… What’s the deal? Is this stuff really that confusing?

I’m gonna go out on a limb and say it. Ladies, some of you may disagree, but here it is:

Men, we need you. We need your strength, but we also need your tenderness and concern. We need to see a side of you that nobody else sees. We need to know you care, and we need to see your care in your actions. When we’re overwhelmed with the kids, the house, the job, et cetera, we need you to show us we’re not alone. We need you to share the load; we’re not meant to carry it by ourselves. And when we’re feeling upset, we don’t need a bouquet! Flowers can’t possibly compare to a man with a mop in his hand. (Unless he has already mopped.)

Thoughts? Perspectives? Opinions?

*DISCLAIMER: I know, I know. This isn’t directed at all men. More than that, the statistics only represent one side of the story. Further, these are the women’s perspectives, not necessarily reality. Finally, the statistics make it clear that these feelings aren’t shared by all women. So if this doesn’t apply to you, go in peace!

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Bleep!

I love the conversations between my 7-year-old daughter and me. She’s very thoughtful and funny, and she’s quite articulate. We’ve had some fairly deep talks about all kinds of things; I love hearing her opinions on a variety of topics.

Most of the time.

The other day she called me out on the carpet. I’d picked her up from after-school care, and we were riding along in silence. She must have been contemplating deep and serious thoughts, because suddenly she spoke.

AUTUMN: Mommy, you said you don’t swear. But you swear all the time.

ME: [slightly indignant] What? I do not!

AUTUMN: Yes you do!

ME: Really. When do I do all this swearing?

AUTUMN: One time you said a bad word when you and Charis were arguing.

ME: Well, that’s just one time …

AUTUMN: You said a bad word another time when you and daddy were arguing.

ME: Um … that was a while ago–

AUTUMN: And I spilled something once and you said a bad word …

Wow, she remembers that?

ME: [slightly defensive] … Still, that’s not all the time. That’s only three times!

AUTUMN: But you said you don’t swear …

Chagrined silence.

ME: I did say that, didn’t I. And if I don’t swear, then swearing even once means I lied, doesn’t it.

AUTUMN: Yep.

Convicted. By a 7-year-old. Again.

ME: You’re right. I’m sorry for lying. And I’m especially sorry I said a bad word when you spilled something.

AUTUMN: It’s okay.

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Ugly, Hard, Messy Lessons

The other day my 10-year-old son got in trouble in school again.

His troubles began when he was 2. My sweet, precocious and very active little boy suddenly began having tantrums. My husband and I were separated at the time, and I was pregnant. I attributed this out-of-the-ordinary behavior to his age and the circumstances.

But it never stopped.

Eight years later, he’s been kicked out of four child care providers and has been suspended from school several times. It’s not a normal week if I don’t have at least one conversation with my son’s teacher, assistant principal or principal. I have these horrible, tense conversations with the adults in his life, listening as they describe his latest failure, and I feel their judgment. I feel their blame, and I fight the urge to wheedle.

So when DJ came home from another rough day, I sent him to his room to wait for me. When I went in, he was sitting on the floor wrapped in three blankets, his face and head covered.

“Why are you sitting there like that?” I asked. He took the blanket from his face and looked at me.

“I don’t want to be this way.” I could hear the truth of his words in his voice. “But I feel like I can’t change.” There were tears, but not the hysterical kind. They were resigned tears. My heart broke (again).

I sat down on his bed and invited him to sit next to me. We talked about how hard it is to change our thinking and our actions, how it’s like making a new path in a wildly overgrown wilderness. We talked about Jesus, about the power the Holy Spirit gives us to change. We talked about how it’s not easy. As we talked, I looked down at his knees, knobby and ashy and small, next to my own. I put my arms around him and I held him very tightly for a long time. I thought of the people who only know him as a trouble-maker, and I wished they could see him now. This little boy is my son, my baby, and he’s worth loving and knowing! This isn’t a choice for him! I feel like I’m the only person who knows that or cares to know that … and even I forget sometimes.

I disciplined him. Then I hugged him again, and I left the room.

It’s not always like this. Most of the time I’m impatient with him. Most of the time I’m angry with him. Over the years I’ve sobbed, I’ve raged, I’ve pleaded. I’ve been defensive and embarrassed. I’ve been sad and scared. I’ve been fierce and I’ve been torn. I’ve been depressed, and I’ve been indifferent.

This year in particular I’ve been angry at God. How much did I have to pray before he would make all this go away? How much faith did I need? Didn’t he care that our lives were miserable? I came within inches of abandoning my relationship with the Lord. I mean, the skin of my teeth, you know?

In the meantime, I have prayed generally for patience (an area of great weakness for me) since I got saved. I’ve prayed to see people through Christ’s eyes, to love the way he loves. I want to be this great Christian and I want God to answer all my pious, silly prayers …

The other day my 19-year-old son said he wanted to join the military. He wanted to be an officer, so he wouldn’t have to salute people, they’d have to salute him. I said, “Why do you always want the shortcut to the perks, but you’re not willing to do the hard work to earn them?”

Speak for yourself, Sparky. What a dumb-ass I am.

Look, if this is what it is … and it is … then what am I doing? Sitting around being pissed at God instead of learning to love my son the way Christ loves him and me: patiently, overarchingly, graciously, hopefully, and consistently. I don’t believe God sends hard things solely to teach us a lesson. On the other hand, I don’t know why this is our lot. But it is. Ugly and hard and messy as it is, I just won’t waste it anymore. I don’t think it’s a situation God created solely to answer my prayers. But the situation itself has created an opportunity for God to answer my prayers. So if there’s a lesson in this somewhere, if nothing else, I want to learn it.

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