Yesterday one of my children told another one to go to hell.
Once I heard about it, I sat down by the child that was breathing fire and brimstone and we discussed what it really meant when you told someone you want them in hell.
Turns out he actually does NOT want his sister in hell.
I then went back into the kitchen and continued preparing supper. My 22-year old daughter, Rachel, was standing near me, cutting up the watermelon.
I spoke aloud and told her that parenting eight children is like playing Whack-a-Mole.
I get one kid “down,” which means they are living life well, and then another one pops his or her head up…and I have to go beat that one down.
No, I don’t beat my kids.
But have you ever seen or better yet, played the arcade game, Whack-a-Mole? There are about ten holes and you are given a big, soft mallet. You never know when one plastic mole will pop its head up, but when it does, you bop it over the head, making it go back down. You get points for reacting quickly.
It’s fun, totally exhilarating and INTENSE.
Just like mothering.
Having a gazillion children, all at different stages, with varying needs, is a fast-paced life. I figure one kid out then another one bops up and presents their needs to me.
I wish I responded well all of the time. I wish I knew exactly how to act and react as their needs and their lives mature.
The truth is, sometimes they stump me. They do something totally out of my realm, like draw guns in school, and I get a call from the principal. I have to figure out if my child is going to turn rogue or if he is simply fascinated with guns.
Being a mother is about maturing and I am not talking about my kids. I believe God sent me my children to grow me.
Yep, He uses my children to get ME done.
Just like He is using YOUR children to get YOU done.
That’s How God Grows Mothers.
I believe, with every part of my being, that my children were hand-picked for ME. Why do I believe this? If He is able to count the number of hairs on a head, that means Our Eternal King is into detail.
He didn’t just randomly allow a sperm and an egg to fuse during conception. He was part of the creative process.
He knew exactly what He wanted in each child.
As I think about my eight similar-yet-different children, I see their gifts.
It is my job as their mother to help them explore those gifts and use them in some way, either for their own enjoyment, or for the greater good.
I am to help them when they get on the wrong road. But I am to do it in such a way that brings them back with a happy heart, not a rebellious one.
These are not small tasks.
I will tell you honestly, that I fail many times.
And I wake up in the middle of the night, like I did last night, wondering if my child will become a foul-mouthed elementary school student, telling all of his classmates to go to hell next year.
I was awake for hours, pondering this child. There is more going on; I have not been paying that much attention to this one. What can I improve? How can I parent him in a more deliberate way?
It was excruciatingly overwhelming, but that’s because it was the middle of the night, when my defenses were down and I felt like my mothering had collapsed and I had failed my own.
But I woke up strong, knowing that I was up for the task.
I poured myself a strong cup of courage, added my heavy whipping cream and sat down with my favorite parenting book, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective Families, by Stephen R. Covey.
Stephen challenged me on the effects of television and computer use. He encouraged me to enter into my child’s life in more real ways, engaging and building him more authentically.
I knew he was right. That child has felt like a loose end and I have been tucking him in by sitting him at the computer, allowing more screen time.
No wonder he told his sister to go to hell. He’s been a drifter.
That will change.
I opened up my Bible and read that there are many gifts to be given. There is joy to be had. To receive, I only have to ask.
I opened my soul and asked.
“Fill me, Lord, with all that I need to parent this child more effectively. Give me strength and vision for today. Continue to teach me and guide me so I can better teach and guide these eight souls that You have hand-picked for me. We only want to do Your Will. Help us to do that with more grace and more style. Thank you.”
So today, I will serve my children some breakfast and we will have a Come to Jesus Meeting.
Summer is half over and we will make some changes.
We will plan outings and adventures. I have some ideas. I will ask for theirs.
Being a mother in the year 2017 is about reacting quickly. It’s fun, totally exhilarating and INTENSE. I can do it and you can do it. Not only that, but we can do it well, as our children help us grow and mature into the women that God wants us to become.