Mother in the ‘hood

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Mothering. Something I continue to both long for and dread. I just look at the task ahead and feel overwhelmed at times with raising these three girls.  I find myself riding the waves like a buoy, seemingly with little control, tossed about and bogged down with this enormous task of training up a child.  At times I feel as if I’m drowning, but I have to stop and realize, rather REMIND myself at times, that even a buoy is anchored down. That anchor for me is Jesus and so often I am stopped in my tracks when I am convicted that I have clung so strongly to something else, seeking control or security or solid footing elsewhere. Often times I blindly and foolishly rely on myself, my abilities and righteousness. I invest too much dependence on my self-control, self-reliance and self-sufficiency, yet continue to see in so many areas the waves ebb away the sand I have tried so hard to plant my feet in, then continue to find Jesus right there continuing to hold me and enable me. So here’s my heart, where I’m at and I just pray that the Lord can continue to encourage and change us through these experiences. 

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Araiya has taken to calling Pia “Go-Ghee” (pronounced like Indian ‘Ghee’ which is clarified butter). I can’t tell if it is just a silly nickname in Araiya and Tallis speak, but lately they have been getting up in her face saying “GOGHEE GOGHEE GOGHEE!” and being unresponsive to why they are calling her that. What in the world does that mean? A part of me laughed inside at their silly antics, but really, it shed a bit light on where Araiya’s heart is at. Her unwillingness to respond with an explanation and actual reasoning goes beyond the simple fact that she is 3 1/2, and while yes, some of this is pure childishness, an increasingly predominant part is her stubbornness. Our discipline has always focused more around behavior issues but in the last month or so, this attitude has been creeping into the equation with some (ok, a fair amount) of disrespect at times. In our home, correcting behavior is important, I am seeing more and more how attitude is such a refection of the heart and how it ultimately shapes their character. I have, perhaps wrongly, let the Go-Ghee thing go and signed it off as not a big deal. But I am starting to see through this some surfacing common currents in other bigger behavior issues. Like taking food. Araiya has every single day this week (and this has been an ongoing issue) gotten into the cabinets (with her cohort Tallis in tow) and busted into the granola bars or Easter Candy (or a loaf of bread or package of raw fish) and snuck it off somewhere to eat it. Increasingly she has become more sneaky, taking advantage of me especially when she knows I am preoccupied (putting Pia down for a nap or flipping laundry in the basement are common times) and trying so hard to justify her actions by being hungry. But during her times of correction she is taking this horrible stubborn attitude with me, waving her finger saying “you don’t tell me what to do!” and “don’t give me correction” or “no, Mom, you’re not doing what I say!” and physically fighting trying to avoid being corrected. I am just seeing her hardness and stubbornness rearing it’s ugly head in a way and intensity it has never been before. Now’s the time to nip this in the bud. I know that oftentimes I feel like I’m just so exhausted with constant disobedience, that it would just be easier to make her behave and do what I tell her or simply avoid getting into conflict in disciplining her. Worse, the repetition makes me feel that what I am doing is ineffective, because I want to see results NOW. This is where I have to completely depend on the Lord for strength to work through me rather than my own stubbornness butting heads with Araiya’s stubbornness. We are dealing with big heart issues on both ends. Above all, this is what is so important in raising children, getting to their heart and pointing them to the Cross while simultaneously realizing our own heart issues and allowing God to use this season to purify us. As an adult, I have to fight against my flesh every day and continue to fail daily when I choose my fallen nature over my new life in Christ. I think kids must be ALL flesh at this point, as a parent it’s my job to teach them that it is a choice to not live in it. Getting to their heart on a daily basis, rather than seeking out my own comfort and especially not just teaching them to be robots to commands is the biggest challenge I have faced. I struggled for the first few years with not having an authoritative voice when it came to discipline, wanting to avoid effective discipline in exchange for soft consequences that didn’t have any weight behind them and simply wanting to see instant obedience instead of slow growth of change and truly bearing fruit. 

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I think recent experiences continue to reminded me that raising children is a process. I’d like to skip to the end and arrive, though that’d be deceiving myself that success would be expecting them to one day get it and then we go on to another issue. No, rather I need to be realizing the need to be flexible and take one day at a time, one reoccurring issue at a time.  The task from this vantage looks overwhelming, but I need to be reminded sometimes it takes days, months and even years before we see the fruit of the time we invest in these little lives. Today has been the first one in a long succession where working with the attitude has been the focus of the moment, through being consistent which is always the means to shepherding them effectively over time. I have to ensure that I, by not tolerating stubborn attitude and disrespect, am loving them well through showing them that as their parent, this is not allowed or accepted in our home and moreso, it does not honor God. Of course, I would love to hear other’s thoughts or things you’ve learned through experiences, constant learning, improvements and failures. Praise that God indeed covers our mistakes. I know I sometimes forget that the Lord is here to help me and that it’s not all about me and my effort and that there are others around me wallowing in the same trenches and I am not in this alone. If that were the case, He wouldn’t get the glory for our change. 

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Additionally, I have continually been stripped and forced to surrender idol of health and taking physical abilities for granted with this nursing ordeal. Thankfully this has really gently been revealing heart issues that have been inaccessible when my focus was so fixed on my own physical aptitude. The ugliness of the heart is so much harder to surrender than the external things that we can’t control. I’d rather there be an answer, a right answer for me to follow then get fraught with self-scorn and perceived failure. Instead I have been graciously allowed such a broad spectrum of experiences in the pregnancy/childbirth/infant care/nursing realms which has broken me out of any narrow sense of following a ‘right’ or ‘better’ way that scorns and looks down on other possibilities. It brought to mind 2 Corinthians 3:17 and Romans 8:1 and Romans 8:5-8 – God gives us freedom, and choice without condemnation or religiosity from the bondage in order for us to be able take hold of the freedom that is accessible through Him. This can be hard, especially when the things that bound us up are things like anger, bitterness, control, selfishness, stubbornness- all things that we have been bound to for years and manefest themselves in many different areas of life. Hard too because these are the very things I see in Araiya and her attitudes and resisting. It’s been a good reminder to check my focus, how I am applying things in my life to things I see in my children, how I both need to be investing in their hearts while God is investing in mine. When I’ve felt overwhelmed it does serve to reminded me that it is Him who does the work in me if I am willing, though in my resistance too, due to my own stubbornness, is the very areas I recognize that the Lord wants to purify. That is what will allow me to be more effective in parenting, which is the work set before me. That’s my calling right now and it is an important one.

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~ by gdesign on April 15, 2009.

2 Responses to “Mother in the ‘hood”

  1. I know motherhood is hard. I’m right there with you fighting what seems like a never ending battle for my sons’ hearts. Asher’s just a little older than Ariaya, and there have been many days that we did very little other than correct and teach him, but little by little I see him growing. He loves Jesus and he understands that this means he needs to honor mom and dad and love his brothers. It’s humbling to see our little man struggle with sin. I – very selfishly – want him to obey because it is easier for me. But I need to remember that his struggle with sin is like mine, or like that of any Christian. Some days his sin is ugly. Other days he looks more and more like Jesus. Last week he was teaching Micah and Zephan the gospel. And then he turned his cross – an Easter gift from his preschool teacher – into a gun and shot them. All I can do is take a deep breath, remember that this little one belongs to Jesus and that God is not done with him, or me, yet.

    I love the photos, by the way, did you take those?

  2. Sara-

    Thanks, I almost have to laugh (like really hard, to the point of tears) at the story of Asher and his ‘gun’. Sorry, it’s NOT really funny, but it is SO indicative of where these kids are at right now.

    And, yea the photos are mine. There are more of them over on Flickr too.

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