I was tired when I awoke. It wasn’t outside noise or an anxious heart. It wasn’t my pillow or my mattress. it was my children.
They had become artists.
Now, not the experts using clay or watercolor, you understand. After all, they were only two and four. Yet, despite their preschool years, they had become masters. Masters of manipulation.
It’s not really a unique skill for this age. I’d noticed it all around me before I had kids. I’d recognized it in the tantruming toddler on the cookie aisle. I’d identified it in the melt-down munchkin at the local restaurant. And of course, I’d made careful notes to myself how MY children would never act THAT way.
Yet, here I stood, glassy-eyed before a tiny pair of folded arms and another small set of stamping feet. And it wasn’t even seven o-clock in the morning.
As the ruckus continued, I shifted my gaze into my cold cup of coffee, wondering if there were enough caffeine in the house to make it through the day. For the past several weeks, I’d bribed, cajoled, coaxed and sweet-talked. I’d threatened and procrastinated. I’d blown up and then apologized. What had a missed? Surely, this wasn’t going to be my life for the next several years.
And then I heard my voice saying calmly and cooly, “Mommy’s done.” Something had snapped within me. Something very, very good. Without anger or vindication, I decided that I was the one in charge and that their attitudes were not.
I honestly don’t remember how the discipline went down. I may have sent the girls back to their beds, put them in time out, or even gave them quick spankings. In the course of my parenthood, I’ve tried them all. But my epiphany went beyond a particular method into a life-changing truth:
I knew the principle works within me. Why shouldn’t I apply it to my children?
Somehow, I was not balancing my parenting-with-grace with the spiritual authority I’d been given. Grace can only be fully received when people desire proper alignment underneath the head. Once my children understood that idea well, they themselves were ready to receive grace. And I was better prepared to give it.
So beginning that morning, I purposed to accept the parental responsibility that I have been given by God. As their mom, my business was to train up our children in the way that they should go. In the preschool years, much of that means keeping their selfish attitudes in check.
Because it is much easier to lighten up than it is to tighten up, I began to discipline at the first infraction of the day. Amazingly, once my children knew what was expected of them, they typically rose to the challenge. And once proper order had been established, I had more grace to extend when they failed.
Hummm….grace and order. Amazing how they are connected.