Wednesday, October 21, 2015

The Willful Child

I've decided to post something a bit personal in the hopes that it could bring encouragement to someone who may be in a similar position. For those who don't know me, HI! I'm Jessica... wife to my best friend, and mommy to three littles. I was 22 when my first, my daughter, was born. My husband and I had no clue what we were doing or what was about to happen. She overturned our lives in an amazing way, causing us to be challenged, loved, and entertained haha! What I'm getting at is, she was not only hilarious, talented, smart, and affectionate... she was also very willful. VERY. Every child is different. Some will sit quietly playing at home, or calmly in the grocery cart (I have one of those too), however, some just can't. I was the mom getting stared at when my daughter would throw full blown tantrums in the middle of Target. The mom who had to be called (more than once) by the preschool teacher because her daughter was sassing the teacher and getting into mischief. If you've never had a challenge child, then maybe you were the one staring and hopefully not judging a mommy who was trying her very best. OR, maybe you can relate.

I have memories of many moments (leading up to yesterday) where she's tested my patience in a major way. God has been teaching me more than I could communicate at this moment through being her mom. How weak I am, how I cannot do this alone, how showing her my love for her is really always a good idea. I want to tell you, that if you have a child who tests you constantly, DO NOT GIVE UP! I know it's hard, and you WILL make mistakes, but that's ok! Let them see your mistakes and tell them you're sorry when you can. It will provoke your little guy/gal to do the same and bring the two of you back into a real relationship, not one that is surface. I' haven't always succeeded at doing this because, well... I make mistakes too. I'm still learning, and honestly, sometimes in the moment when I 'm caught up with emotion, I just don't make the right choice. Luckily, children are so forgiving... more than we deserve.

As my daughter gets older, I notice more and more glimpses of hope. Feelings of gratitude that I never gave up on her. Glad that God gave me the strength to push through and do the hard things with her (and I'm SURE there will be much more). She's ten now, in 5th grade, and has a whole life of her own. Between school, dance team, band, and any other activities that happen to come up, she's more and more becoming her own person. There are more and more times that she blows me away. Yesterday she came home with an English assignment to choose a person who is an example of temperance. She immediately told me that she already knew who she was going to choose. Jesus. She said she couldn't think of a better example and couldn't wait to share with her class. Mind you, she does not go to a Christian school. She goes to a public school. Her paragraph was very moving and true, but lets be honest... I'm sure controversial. Her willingness... even better... EXCITEMENT to share was like a wave of wonder crashing over me. I'm amazed by her boldness. Not a care at all about what others will think or say. She's had the opportunity to stand up for her beliefs on several occasions at school already and none of those moments (as hard as they were) were causing any shadow to fall over her desire to share truth with others. She was genuinely proud. She's not naive, she's brave. Even typing this I'm in disbelief. I was nothing like that as a child...nothing!

What's my point in telling this little story? Those willful ones who challenge you are also gifted. They see and hear more than you think. I'd heard encouragement like this before when she was much younger and was encouraged by others' stories and clung to the hope that she could use some of those stubborn qualities for good. Of course, this isn't the first time she's surprised me. Her love for others and how she openly and creatively expresses that also inspires me. But this event really provoked me to share. She doesn't care what other people think about her. She is easily distracted, but pays attention to MANY details. She pours her energy into whatever she believes in (you can't convince her not to), and she'd do anything to protect the ones she loves. I'm overwhelmingly provoked by her. In so many ways, I want to be like her. I can learn from her too. I whole-heartedly believe that God placed her in my life to grow us both. I don't know what the future holds for her, but I'm grateful for the moments where I see that there is so much good going on even in the areas that I'd originally counted out as being negative. Don't count them out! You will be tired, stressed, worried, etc., but God cannot be limited. He isn't just capable of using your childs "weaknesses" for good, He created them exactly as they are for a reason... a purpose that we may not fully understand. And at the end of the day, we are all flawed! Let's just pour love all over them regardless of all the testing they do. Let them know that you will never give up and will love them matter what happens. I can't see anything negative that would come out of that! We got this!