Lately my firstborn has been driving me crazy.
I won’t go into details, but we have been in a season where everything he does rubs me the wrong way. It might be that we are so incredibly different. He craves my undivided attention and I like to be busy. I enjoy a quiet morning and he is an early bird with so many words. He is oblivious to dirt on his shoes and I am addicted to my vacuum. He has hoarding tendencies while I am a wannabe minimalist. He wants cupcakes for dinner after I have spent 2 hours making a healthy and delicious meal.
These things add up and sometimes I find myself resisting his presence by being easily frustrated, impatient, and distracted around him. And all my resistance usually fans the flames of his neediness. He presses closer, talking more, whining more, clinging more and I retreat more and that makes for a very vicious cycle!
What’s worse is that I know these feelings are wrong. Would a good mom have trouble enjoying her kid? Guilt and shame are often my companions as I crawl into bed each night.
Have you ever felt this way? Here is my encouragement to you…
Space and Grace
99% of the time when I find myself easily irritated by my boys it is because I feel stretched thin in other areas of my life. Work is busy, or there are financial struggles. Deadlines. Sleeplessness. Health issues. These concerns can crowd my thoughts, leaving little room for the space needed to hear and be filled by the Holy Spirit.
You’re not a bad mom—you are a tired mom.
But let these feelings be a nudge toward repentance and the pursuit of a connection with Jesus. Turn on some worship music, listen to an encouraging podcast, call a friend and pray together (being careful not to complain about your son!). Find fellowship with Him and then let His Word and His grace transform the places in your heart, mind, and body that are weary.
Relationships, whether with a child or an adult, are hard work. Our sin will rub against theirs and vice versa and there are bound to be some challenges. But as we benefit from space and grace and fellowship with Christ, He strengthens us to fellowship well with others.
I am learning that sometimes indulging the very thing that irritates me is the pathway to being restored to my son.
Is he whiny and clingy? Intentionally plan some one-on-one time together – like a longer snuggle before bed or a light hearted game of soccer in the backyard. Some mornings when I am not particularly thrilled to see an awake little person at 5:30 in the morning, I literally command my spirit to greet him the way I would want to be greeted, “Good morning, baby. I missed you while you were sleeping!” Fake it ‘til you make it, girl!
One of the best mediators of conflict is not moving away from the person, but the faithful practice of moving toward them.
Children Are a Gift
It seems so silly and obvious that I would even have to remind us – MOTHERS – of this simple truth, but the fact remains that one of the enemy’s greatest tactics is to try to get us to think that a blessing the Lord has given to us is actually a curse.
That sounds extreme, but with the way I have been feeling, if I nurse those negative thoughts too long, resistance can turn into resentment. So it is helpful to think on Christ. How He welcomed the children. How He loved them and celebrated their involvement in His kingdom’s work on earth. How He blessed them, invited them into His lap, and even advised us to be more like them (Mark 10:13-16).
One of my favorite ways to be reminded of this good word is to quietly go into my son’s room at night and spend some time praying over him and watching him sleep. You can’t look upon a resting babe without your heart being touched by such a tender, precious sight, and it’s there that the Lord helps me see my faulty thinking for what it is so that I can lay it at His feet in exchange for a fresh perspective.
Because surrendering our expectations of who we want our children to be allows our hands of resistance to become open arms of love and acceptance.
I don’t know where you are today, dear mama, but if you are anything like me, you might be feeling a bit overwhelmed by a certain son’s needs. Join with me by seeking Him, leaning in, and then celebrating that gift(s) walking around your house today.
Even if he is walking through the house with dirt on his shoes.
Great message, Julie, and it still applies when a son is 23 years old!
Just what I needed thank you