Of all the hats we wear as moms, my least favorite is referee. Some days it seems I have no chance to enjoy my children because all my energy is spent on mediating their squabbles. Here’s a typical scene:
“Moooooom! She pinched me!” My five-year-old accused her little sister of unprompted abuse.
“She! Took! My! Bear!” My two-year-old sputtered her defense.
“Did you take your sister’s bear?”
“No. I had it first!” Sure, that old trick.
I knelt to eye-level with my toddler. “Did you pinch your sister?”
“Yes.” Love this honest age.
“You know the rules, girls. In our family, we share toys, and we do not hit, kick, or pinch. Both of you—to your rooms for a time out.” My verdict was swift and final.
“Noooooooooo! Waaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhh!” The toddler flung her whole body onto the carpet and pounded fists into the floor. Big sister’s face glowed red and contorted into desperate wails. Such cruel and unusual punishment! As though the whole ordeal was my fault in the first place.
Oh, and did I mention it was only 7 a.m.? The girls had been awake and breathing each other’s air for approximately five minutes. Lord, help me.
Sometimes I’m tempted to let natural consequences reign and leave my children to battle it out until one of them gives in or loses a chunk of hair. But at this young stage, they still need my intervention much of the time. My challenge is to stay strong and consistent.
And what a challenge it is.
“No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it,” (Hebrews 12:11).
If harvest is the goal, then discipline is like gardening. I’m in the seed planting stage. Some days I can’t see anything but a mound of dirt.
Yet God is giving life to those seeds beneath the surface. Soon I’ll detect sprouts, and I will continue to water and weed. Then one day, my daughters will stand tall, beautiful, and unwavering as sunflowers—because they are rooted in the soil I tilled with my own sweat and prayers, nourished by the shining rays of God’s grace.
Oh, how we all need his grace.
“Mom, can I come out of my room now?” My five-year-old poked her head through the doorway, repentant.
“Me too, Mommy?” my little one chimed.
“Yes, girls. Come here, please.” I perched them both on my lap. “What did you do that was naughty?”
“We didn’t share,” big sister whispered.
“I pinch! Naughty!” the toddler shouted. My stern lips nearly cracked a giggle.
“What do you need to say to each other?”
“I sow-ee, too.”
They hugged. My heart warmed. Then the little one yanked her sister’s hair and we started all over again.
Oh, well. Time to plant more seeds. I am producing a harvest of righteousness, after all. It’s not a bad way to spend the day.