In the past week I've watched 2 close friends go through hard deaths in their family. One friend was more expected than the other, and the other was quite honestly a tragedy, but no death can ever be labeled easy to deal with.
I was trying my best to be a supportive ear, and at the news of my one friends tragedy, my heart was just overwhelmed. Her brother, was dying. I felt deep heartaches for her, and her family. Their home was one of my home away from homes in college, and I love her family deeply. I texted her one night and said, "I wish I were there. I would come over bearing drinks and make popcorn, and bring ice cream or tiramisu or something yummy and sit with you and just be. Not ask you to say anything...but just be." I've had some ugly cries this week. The audible sob ones off and on, that left both the kids staring and yielding hugs and wiping my tears. I just couldn't stop thinking about my own kids, and watching her parents go through what no parent should ever have to go through and realizing how short our lives really are. Processing guilt of my own emotions of feeling smothered some days by my own kids, to watching them lose their son, and now not being able to hold my own kids long enough this week in fear of the day when I won't have them to hold.
Then there was the "suck" this week of the dreaded teething. To be honest, before I had Alex I didn't know teething could suck could suck so badly. I'm not even sure that Abbie ever had a day in her infant/toddlerhood that she needed pain meds for teething. If she did, she never cried about it, to tell me that it hurt, so I assumed all was well, and then came Alex....Oh. My. Word. Everyday this week he has been screaming and up at random times of the night waking up before roosters even crow, and I am tired. I'm done. I'm burnt out, and already this morning Dave and I looked at each other over first cups of morning coffee, acknowledging that it's Friday, and said "Do you want to go to bed at 9 tonight?" Woo....parenthood. I have no "Parenting is Awesome" pep talks in me this week, because it's just been plain hard.
Then came this morning....Alex is going on Day 5? 6 maybe of sporadic screaming middle of the night outbursts from teething. Starting to flex his not quite 2 year old independence, and I was all excited, because it's Friday, and the library had story time this morning. Wahoo! Something to do for free, that doesn't take a lot of energy. Wrong. Leaving the house always takes energy. We almost made it out the door...we really did. Abbie's coat was on. My coat was on. Alex was getting his on, and right before we went out, Alex starts pushing and shoving Abbie around. Typically a simple solution. We say sorry, give hugs, and we are on our way. Not today. Alex flat out refused to apologize, laughed in my face, started running away from me, and quite honestly being a jerk. It started out with timeouts as his first consequence. Still laughing, flat our refusing to yield and apologize, and eventually escalated to the point where He was up in his room in his crib in a timeout away from us hopping mad that I would such a thing. Gave him a few minutes. Went into his room. Told him I would let him out, he needed to apologize, and then we could go downstairs. He agreed. Let him out, evidently changed his mind somewhere in the transition from being lifted out of his crib to the floor and flat our refused again...multiple chances later, he landed himself back in the crib. I left the room again. Gave him a few minutes. He was still really mad, and tried it again. I finally got him to yield and apologize, and by this time, story time has been over for 30 minutes, and it's time for lunch. An hour. One ENTIRE HOUR....to wear down the will, and at the end of it all, I was emotionally spent. Abbie was really understanding which was a blessing. I told her in the middle of it that we may not make story hour, but I promised to still go to the library, and she didn't seem to mind, so I was so thankful for that.
As I sat the kids down for lunch, I just wasn't up for small talk so I cleaned up the kitchen while they ate. I wasn't angry. Just emotionally drained. As I washed dishes, I looked up and saw Alex sitting there, happily chomping away, completely oblivious moving forward about the battle that just took place, and he grinned at me. Gave me his big cheesy smile.
At moments during the battle I was so irritated...about my inconvenience of this unwelcome interruption to my day. I was irritated that Abbie was going to have to give up something because Alex was misbehaving. I was irritated that he kept laughing disrespectfully in my face, and that you can't expect that of a 1 year old, you can only teach it so they have to go through the disrespect to learn the respect.
As I continued washing the dishes and watching Alex, though entirely drained emotionally, I was glad I chose to fight the battle. As I looked over at him, it hit me, that he isn't just a boy, I'm raising a little man. Someones future husband. A future father, and grandfather, and I HAVE TO CHOOSE to fight battles. Parenting goes way beyond teaching life skills. It's about training hearts. I don't care if my children are so smart they know textbooks from front to back, and I don't care if I have children who have been involved in every activity known to man. No, I want to raise up disciples, and raising disciples involves something much deeper than just having kids, and teaching them how to be responsible adults. No, it involves daily fighting deep heart battles for their souls, because someday, that little boy turned man, will have a wife, or a daughter, or a granddaughter, and she will be a child of God who deserves to be loved, and respected, and so now this battle of pushing his sister around, and disrespecting his mama is setting a firm foundation of loving and serving others, and treating others how we would want to be treated. It's about learning to live a life of laying your own life down for others. It's a battle worth fighting in a world full of ugly sin.
So how does a parent fight such battles?
We arm ourselves-
We fill our hearts up with the word of God, and we ourselves spend time with Him.
We pray so hard for the spiritual attacks that these little souls will have to experience, and when needed we step in, and intervene for them. We pray for them. We stand beside them and fight with them, because they are little, and helpless, and so inexperienced in being able to see the conniving way the enemy works, but no matter how big the battle, God is bigger.
I'm not always the greatest at either one of these, but you know what I realize....this sucky week of death, and hard, and sleepless nights, and crabby kids is exactly the type of thing satan likes to do to derail me. Derail each of us. To get us so off focus that we can't think straight about where God is leading us, and within that I see how, no matter how tired we are, how busy we feel, time with Him must be our always. It must be prioritized. It must be a necessity, because if it's not, we can't fight battles. We can't fight our own. We can't help fight theirs, and we miss the whole point of this life entirely....to serve and honor Him in EVERYTHING we do, which means fighting the everyday battles.
There will ALWAYS be battles.
I need to just accept that. Life always has hards. Very rarely is there a moment when "nothing" is going on. So I need to stop fighting the hard, sucky moments that are bound to come, and strap on my gear, and get ready to fight.
So I encourage you to fight hard moms! Your battle is worth fighting for to train up your little disciples! Just keep your eyes on Him, and I promise even when you feel like you have nothing left...He will fight the fight for you!