One Strong-Willed Single Mama and Five Kids to Match

February 10, 2014

Sometimes there are defining moments when you come to a realization that changes your perspective a lot. I had one of those recently. I realized that my youngest daughter likes to do things her own way. I know, I know…duh. She’s my 5th child so you’d think I’d have figured this out sooner.

Alas, each child stretches me more and more…and then some more. It makes me chuckle to think how I‘ve viewed each of my children as strong-willed. Boy was I naïve!! And I’ll tell you that training and disciplining an actual, honest-to-goodness strong-willed child is hard. Really hard. Difficult. Arduous. Challenging. Demanding. Taxing. Stressful. Time-consuming. Frustrating. Exhausting.

There….now you understand how I really feel about it. My daughter could test the mettle of any warrior…exhaust the most seasoned marathoner…twist any gymnast in knots…and throw any diver into a tailspin. She is challenging beyond anything I could’ve imagined…I love her fiercely. I’ve learned fewer words are necessary with her…actually fewer words are imperative. And shutting my mouth is SOOOOO difficult.

I feel the need to explain everything, remind, cajole, beg, and basically make her give up simply from the weight of all my words. Actually none of my children need the number of words I tend to use with them. I know that from the glazed expressions. There is a verse, “When words are many, sin is not absent, but he who holds his tongue is wise.” (Proverbs 10:19) I’d prefer to be wise rather than sinful any day.

Unfortunately my natural tendency is NOT to bridle my tongue. There is a section of scripture at the end of Proverbs which describes a godly woman. She’s often referred to as the Proverbs 31 woman. She’s everything I want to be…but often when I read that passage I just get discouraged…it just sounds impossible. I’ve a decided lack of ability to fulfill that role perfectly. But I’m learning to take great delight in the possibility that with God I can indeed be like that amazing woman…or at least heading in that direction.

During this season of my life I believe one of the verses I need to focus on is this, “She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.” (Proverbs 31:26) This is another one of those things I wish I could write…”So I’m determined to keep my mouth shut, my actions loving, and my attitude godly as I discipline and train my children.” But I think instead I need to pray that God will enable me to be the Momma my children need. Sometimes I think if I just try hard I can be the Mom I want to be. But after 19+ years of parenting and 5 children there isn’t much I can determine to do that I actually do well consistently, unless I have the strength of God to enable me to do it.

That doesn’t mean I throw my hands up and give up. I believe it means I offer myself some grace to not be perfect. I’m quite strong-willed myself. It’s all too easy for me to stomp my feet, demand my way in things, and feel overwhelmed and frustrated. And it means I offer my kids some grace to be imperfect too. That I trust that even my strong-willed child can learn to use her powers for good! I trust that God will enable me to love my children well and that He will take care of my children. He does love them very very much after all…even the strong-willed ones like my little girl…and me.

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