I heard the term “threenager” a while back, and I feel like that’s pretty accurate. The 3’s are rough. My beautiful girl is equal parts sweet and stubborn, and there’s a bit of sass thrown in there too.
She’s a lot like her momma.
I am struggling to figure out how to parent well. I’ve cut out many distractions from my life, things that would take up time in my day and pull me away from her. I’ve closed the computer while she’s awake, and turned off the TV. I’ve practiced consistency and reworked (and reworked) our discipline strategy. All things that I thought would help, behavior-wise.
But everything just seems to be getting harder. And I feel a bit at my wit’s end.
The first 22 years of my life, I was a determined, focused, capable girl. I knew where I was going and how I planned to get there. I worked hard and accomplished things. I dreamed.
The last 8 years of my life have left me weary. Losing my mom was the first in a cascade of events in my life that changed me. I have withdrawn, in my heart if not in my actions. I have stopped doing hard things. I have stopped believing I could do hard things. My soul has been tired for a long time. Long before I became a mom.
But I am a mom. And as a mom, my job is eternally important, so I can’t phone it in. I can’t stop when I get to my wit’s end. I have to keep pressing on.
These two little people God’s given me, they require everything from me. They test my patience and my sanity. They keep me on my toes and on my knees because I don’t have all the answers. Or any answers, let’s be honest.
My default for the last 8 years has been to run, to shut down. When hard things have come, I’ve turned my brain off, or the TV on, finding an escape so that I didn’t have to deal with one.more.thing.
But in the last few weeks, I’m remembering the girl I used to be. Not the same one, exactly, because I can’t ever again be the naive girl she was. But I’m remembering her drive, her determination, her ability to set her mind to something and accomplish it. God’s doing something in my heart, setting me free from the past, getting me ready for the future. Or maybe just simply showing me how to be present in the here and now.
I think somewhere in the tragedy, the whirlwind romance, the impossible marriage, the endless hours of counseling, the three hometowns, and the becoming a mother, I forgot who I was. I forgot who God made me to be.
I’m remembering now. And I’m realizing how much my kids need me.
They need me to be strong, to take a stand and set boundaries. They need me to be generous in my love and my affections, showering them with kisses and kindness. They need me to face the hard things head on, knowing that with Christ, we can handle whatever comes our way. And things will come our way.
They need the girl I used to be, and they need the woman I am today. They need the wisdom of someone who has walked through the things I have. They need the understanding that comes with knowing this world is not our home. They need to see that their mom needs Jesus just as desperately as they do.
And so, I’m not running from this. I’m not shutting down this time. I’m gathering strength and leaning in hard to motherhood, because God gave me these two babies to raise and they need me. I’m reading the books and calling the mentors and praying the desperate prayers and I am committing to throwing off the things that so easily entangle, so I can throw my arms around these two and do this hard thing.
I’m all in. Which is a good thing, because my all is required.
I still don’t have all the answers (or any answers), but I am starting to come out from the fog and understand that this hard thing is a blessing. Maybe all the hard things are, somehow.
So, my stubborn threenager is going to start meeting her match in her momma. By God’s grace, and in His strength, I’m leaning in. And today, I needed to just say that out loud.
Who’s with me?