Because of the LORD's great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail.
Being a parent is not about having it all together, therefore God sees you and thinks you would make a great parent. Rather, He sees you and knows being a parent will teach you so many things. I often loose sight of the fact the God is teaching me, rather than I am teaching my children. Usually, I view myself as the teacher, not as the one being taught, as the instructor, not the instructed.
Have you ever had a moment when you are slapped across the face with the realization that you don't have it all figured out? I experienced this again today. To give a little background on my wake up call, I have to go back several months.
About 8 months ago, Bethany peaked into this horribly, horrid attitude. It was rotten and annoyed me to no end. I was exhausted, physically, emotionally and mentally at the end of many, many days after dealing with her constant ugly attitude. It was displayed every time I said, "Let's get your clothes on. Let's fix your hair." or "Mommy said, to do...." Our sweet little baby who had always been the perfect, obedient, parent pleaser, suddenly turned monstrous. Evil. Fits of rage, wailing, screaming, belligerent, stubborn, contorted faces and down right nasty!! The more I stood my ground the uglier it became. All forms of discipline, time out, loss of possessions, and spanking did nothing to extinguish the attitude. It actually multiplied the behavior I hated. I was left dazed and confused. Joe and I both didn't know what to do because nothing was working. I had to deal with her much more than Joe, but we both dealt with her. What had happened to our Bethany?
As the months past, I felt like I had exhausted every possible solution to this problem. I tried reasoning, bribing at one point, allowing her to make choices, on and on. Every possible avenue, I tried. She pushed me to the point of anger and soon I had an attitude. "I have tried to work with you! I have done everything I possibly can to help YOU get over this horrible, wicked time in your life, and you continue to treat ME in this way! How dare you!" is what I was thinking and probably even said to her.
I asked my mom and my friends, "What can I do? Will it ever end?" I remember disciplining her and being so angry with her. Even when she'd say she was sorry, I remained mad at her. "She doesn't really mean it." I told myself. I watched her act out the same bad attitude again and again. I asked God to help me forgive her, I really didn't have forgiveness in my heart. I talked to Joe about my hard time forgiving her. I had unconditional love for her, but I was mad at her.
For about a month now, Bethany has improved and is back to her old self. Spankings are rarely needed, she is happy to please and very affectionate. Joe and I both feel like a million pound weight has been lifted off our backs. I can't tell you what brought on that terrible season we went through, but I am glad we have it behind us. I am learning that the end of one phase is the beginning of another. Having 3 children, that puts us in and out of alot of phases. I know we will get through them and I have to be consistent. To quote Dr. Phil, "Children should be able to predict with 100% accuracy, the consequences of their actions." If they do good, they should know we will praise them. If they do bad, they should know we will discipline them. If they think they might get away with something, they will try it.
So today, the kids and I are eating breakfast. Bethany gets off her chair and pulls it as close as possible to mine. I hugged her and told her I loved her and she gave me a kiss. I told her I was so proud of her for being such a good girl. I said it makes me happy and I am glad I don't have to spank her very often. Then I said, "Do you remember when you used to be naughty all the time?" She said yes. I asked her, "Why were you naughty and Mommy had to spank you so much?" "I liked it when Daddy would hug me and say, 'I love you' after he spanked me. I didn't like getting spankings, but I liked that."
I had a knot in my stomach. A sick, sinking feeling. That is what she remembers. I had just been slapped upside my head. I knew I hadn't always hugged her and told her I loved her each time she was in trouble. Why? Because I was angry and mad at her, I hadn't felt like doing that. I did it sometimes, but not always.
I asked Bethany if I did that too and she said, "No." She paused and then said, " Well, sometimes." Ughh! I knew she was right because I had been aware that I was doing it. She had noticed. I told her I was sorry for not hugging her and told her I loved her.
Sometimes I think my children have so much to learn, I am the one who has so much to learn. I am learning the difference between knowing what the Bible says and doing what the Bible says. It is hard and can seem impossible but that doesn't mean I am not to do it.
Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, "Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?"
Jesus answered, "I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.