I actually found myself praying yesterday to God “Help me like Annikah right now.” Seriously, it was deep. rough. I am tired.
I thought about even writing about this post. That people might judge me, might think of me as a craptastic mother, might not have ever had a low like this. But then I realized that anyone who has children understands stress, tears, losing all semblance of order or sanity or patience….even if they would not broadcast their difficulties to the world. The demands of loving and parenting children grow and stretch and point out areas in our lives where we do not have all the answers (heck, I’d settle for SOME of the answers nowadays). Plus, anyone that has read this blog for more than 5 minutes knows my life is not shiny, my parenting not perfect, and thankfully everything redeemed by Grace. I need some extra these days.
I had a moment yesterday where I honestly wished that I could run away from this house screaming. Annikah was on a tirade. A crabby, whining, rude binge and I wanted to escape. The thing is much of her behavior is “just bad” enough not to be terrible but to be nasty. Case in point, she answers me when I ask her to come in from outside with a snotty “OK!! MAMA, I hear you!” Gulp. So she “listens” but with a funky attitude. Flash forward to 10 years from now and I get a shiver down my spine. It would only be divine retribution since I was a terror during my teen years (sorry Mom) and spent most of my time disagreeing with anything my parents uttered while managing the difficult skill of a perpetual eye roll.
Anni likes to boss everyone around and if anyone (including me) does not want to follow her request she loses it. Now, I can see leadership ability there for sure but right now it seems more like Stalin-ish than Martin Luther King, Jr. Double gulp. Almost everything I suggested or asked her to do was akin to Chinese water torture. We are talking heavy sighs, hands on hip, and a barrage of reasons why this was just not possible (she will be a great creative writer someday). She would acquiesce to my request but always in a begrudging way. I even tried to play games, do crafts, anything “productive” and fun but she would just do something to ruin it like smack her friend or cry because it is not always her turn at ‘Go Fish.’ I was just exhausted of trying to deal with what she was going to come up with next. It was like reactively parenting a volcano. I was drowning for sure. And the killer is I failed miserably. At least that is how I felt at the end of the day when I sat down and cried. I ended up sending her to her room and telling her I did not want to hear her voice for 5 minutes. This turned into every 2 minutes a cry, a plea from the desperate prisoner calling out from her room in a pathetic whiny voice “Mama, it has been 5 minutes!!” To which I replied “nope!” and tried again. Eventually she did remain quiet but emerged from her room ready to rip up the joint again. And although yesterday was particularly heinous this behavior has been quite common these days. Sigh.
Jason got home and offered some respite and gave her a “talking to.” Parenting as a team is the only way I can handle days like this and I am again thankful I have a supportive and loving (and in this case “fresh”) Papa. Never mind I had said the same things to her but coming from Papa she actually apologized. Truly forgiving and moving on is rough. That serves as a example of how often I forget just how much I have been forgiven. He forgives and keeps no record of wrong. Oh Lord help me love in Your Way. Help me remember everything You have done, are doing, and will do and help me live in that peace, abundance, forgiveness, and freedom. I know the terrible twos were supposed to be rough but the threes are pretty tumultuous in my experience (any advice from Mamas out there?). I so desire to love her and demonstrate God’s love for her. As I discussed with someone recently this whole parenting gig would be a lot easier if all I cared about was her behavior. But trouble is I desperately care about who she is, who she will become, how she sees the world, how she interacts with others, and how she views herself as created and loved by her Maker. That makes me invested and for real emotionally in it. Deep Breath.
After Anni’s tirade, apology, dinner, and a bath she decided to amuse a crabby Evy who missed a nap due to visitors and a renegade chicken outside her room (a story for another time). And Anni was just adorable and made Evy laugh for about 10 minutes. And then just to further confuse me she asks in a sweet little voice “Mama, can I help you fold the laundry?” and does just that carefully folding each cloth diaper and stacking them neatly. I swear it was like she knew I was on the brink and had to guarantee we would not sell her to gypsies errrr something. She really is an amazing, sweet, creative, hilarious, thoughtful, smart kid and I just to remind myself that these days are part of the deal. I am not always so fabulous and I need lots of do-overs and lots of mercy and lots of grace. Days like yesterday make me realize just how far we all have to go. For sure me included. I am just as disobedient sometimes in loving, forgiving, listening, and serving. So for now I hold my breath a bit and pray a lot. I also continue to try to be consistent, loving but firm, and watch and guide as she grows, changes, and becomes….and if there are reports by the neighbors of that crazy Mzungu Mama Annikah running from our house screaming everyone will know why. Here is to beginning afresh tomorrow…