There are some days my kids just aren’t that easy to love.
My younger (perhaps kid-less) version of myself would have gasped in horror at a statement like that.
But the truth is that kids are human beings just like all the rest of us. And sometimes they have grouchy, cranky, bad-attitude days that make you want to just give up. Nothing entertains them. The slightest thing causes fits and eye rolls, stomps and kicks, and just plain disagreeable behavior.
We seem to have been having a lot of those moments lately. And sometimes I feel so exasperated. And other times just downright angry.
But one night, after a particularly difficult day, I tucked Ace in and watched him snuggle in to go to sleep and I realized.
If we (his dad and I) don’t love him, even on the most difficult days, who will?
Who will be there to weather those awful days, sticking with the discipline even when you just want to quit?
Who will care enough to handle those eye rolls day after day after day, to work to train and shape his character into the man he will someday be?
I’m not saying we don’t have loving family and friends. But a parent has a very special role to play. It is up to us, as parents, to deal with the good AND the bad.
There’s no one we can “give him back to.” The buck stops with us. And it is a hard, hard, hard job.
But it is the most important job.
It is effortless to love our kids on the easy days when everything goes well and everyone is in a good mood.
But it’s at the end of those hard days that I have to remind myself that it’s up to us to love them and stick with them even when we wish we could quit (and believe me, there have been days when I wonder why I ever thought being a parent was a good idea!)
How else will we teach them about life and what it means to love? Someday my boys may be husbands and fathers themselves.
And my boys will need to know how to love their wives and families when they aren’t very lovable either.
So what is an exhausted and exasperated mother to do? Here are 3 quick ways I try to show some love even in the midst of a struggle:
- Give a hug. Simple yet sometimes incredibly effective.
- Color or draw a picture with them. This can sometimes be all the distraction you (or they) need to change the pace of the moment.
- Go for a walk or even just go outside. This is the more active cousin of tip #2. I use this one when it’s obvious that a larger energy release is needed. The fresh air really does help refresh your spirits and the openness of the outdoors gives everyone a larger sense of personal space.
And after reflecting on those tough moments, I’ve learned that obedience is a journey, not a destination.
Let that sink in for a minute.
I keep expecting (or perhaps naively hoping) that one day we will “arrive” at a place where my sons will have grasped the concept of obedience, have absorbed all the discipline and training, and will then be obedient.
We will plant our flag on “Obedience Mountain.” Then we will live blissfully with our obedient children and begin to tackle the next challenge.
But that will never be.
Even though we adults have achieved a certain mastery over our emotions and behaviors, we are still not “there.” We are still on the journey and that makes me realize that I have to temper my expectations.
When I accept that this whole parenting gig is really a journey and things like obedience are not pit stops but ultimate, lifelong destinations, it helps to change my perspective on this whole thing.
So breathe through those tough moments.
Give yourself grace when you realize you’re losing your patience or you haven’t handled something exactly the way you should have. (Read more at To The Mom Recovering from a Rough Day.)
And know that when your kids are toughest to love, that’s when they need it the most.
What do you do when your kids are tough to love or you feel like you’re at the end of your rope? Let me know in the comments below!