Parenting can turn an ordinary lady into a super hero. And I’m not talking about Wonder Woman. Lately I’ve taken on a different kind of identity.
“Girls, wash up for dinner, please.” I lifted a steamy pot of pasta from the stove and nodded to my daughters. They sat at the kitchen table rubbing crayons onto coloring books. “Did you hear me? Wash up.”
Three minutes and half a chopped salad later, my girls still hadn’t budged.
“Girls! Put away the crayons and wash your hands for dinner.” I stepped out to toss a can into the garage recycling bin and returned to see my girls still nose-to-paper with their coloring books.
“What did I say?! It’s dinner time!”
Just then my sweet husband rounded the corner into the kitchen. “Can I help with anything, hon’?”
“Yes,” I turned toward him, my eyes crazy-wide. “You can tell these children to wash their hands.”
“Girls—go wash up.”
Immediately, they set down the crayons and slid off their chairs. “Okay, Daddy.” And off to the sink they marched.
What the heck?
Do you ever feel like your children can’t hear you? Like you could bark and plead and wave your arms, but still your mom voice travels at some odd frequency indecipherable to young ears. All my instructions to pick up your toys and put on your shoes squeak out like a pathetic dog whistle. Why don’t they listen? Why won’t they obey? What in the world am I doing here, anyway?
Nobody sees me as the boss.
And that means—I must be failing.
“Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies” (Romans 8:33).
Let’s not talk about discipline. Or a list of tips to get your kids to listen and behave, which (let’s face it) may or may not work depending on your child’s mood or yours. And I’m not even going to encourage you to be consistent and intentional as a mom.
Those things are important, yes. We ought to take them seriously.
But that’s the problem. Sometimes we take ourselves too seriously. So much that we overestimate our influence.
Children, for all our molding and training and teaching, are still just people.
And people have free will.
Why should we be surprised when our kids use it?
Oh, sure, I get it. You want your kids to use their free will to obey you. Of course. So do I.
So does God.
Do you always listen when he tells you what to do? Darn, me neither. Yet that doesn’t make him a bad Father.
“The LORD is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love. . . . As a father has compassion on his children, so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him” (Psalm 103:8, 13).
There’s a deeper issue here. When your children ignore your commands, what do you see? What’s the big picture of your parenting? I see a household where I have no control. Where my kids think my instructions are optional. Where Mom is invisible, therefore I must be doing something wrong.
Ah. Then you—and I—are the ones with the vision problem. Because we are choosing not to see.
What about the times when your kids do listen? When they hear you say I love you and you’re special and God made you smart. When they clutch your hand or hug your knees or reach for a goodbye kiss before school? What about those moments when the whole family makes a pajama run for ice cream or dances in the living room and you laugh together until your smile muscles ache? Or the tears you wipe from a tired child’s eyes, the prayers you plead over their bedsides, the hard conversations you enter willingly with your husband because you know that growing great kids means keeping the two of you strong first.
Don’t you see all that?
You are not invisible. You are doing the work, day in and day out. Your children see it. They feel it. They know it, whether they can wrap words around it or not. And it’s this kind of loving home you’ve created that makes them feel safe enough to test your patience in the first place.
So don’t allow a streak of behavior issues to taint your entire view of motherhood. It’s one piece of the puzzle. There are so many other pieces also deserving of your attention—and together they form a beautiful picture of your family life.
God sees it.
You are not invisible.
You are wonderful.
Wonderful Woman . . . now that’s a super hero identity I could get used to wearing.