It’s Strategy #1 in the Teenager “Wear Mom Down” Handbook.
Can’t I stay out later? All my friends get to!
Really?! I have to go to tutoring tonight?
Can’t YOU just do my laundry from now on?
I only missed one homework assignment! Why can’t you give me a break?!
They keep asking the same questions over and over again, expecting different answers.
But I have this crazy theory. My kids act like they want me to give in, give up the fight. They seem to want to make me tire of the same old battles.
But secretly, I think they hope I’ll stand firm. Deep down, in places they’d never admit existed, they want me to keep fighting for them.
Because when I do, it can mean only one thing: Love. Not the superficial “feel-good” kind of love. No, it’s the “I-don’t-care-what-you-say-or-do-or-how-you-fight-me-I’m-going-to-keep-doing-the-right-thing-for-you” kind of love. That’s the kind of love we all crave.
We’d never give up completely on our kids. But exhaustion and discouragement can tempt us to wave the white flag in little ways. They seem insignificant, but each time we give in when we know we should ‘man up,’ it makes it a little easier the next time. And little compromises tend to lead to bigger ones.
How ’bout you? Ever been plagued by thoughts like these?
“The kids never listen to a word I say anyway. What’s the use?”
“They don’t appreciate a thing I do for them.”
“I’m so tired. I’ll let it slide — just this once.”
And then I consider this definition of faithfulness: “To follow through with a commitment regardless of difficulty.” Another source I found defined it as “Love hanging on.”
Faithfulness is a concious and tenacious choice. It isn’t swayed by emotion. It isn’t changed by circumstances.
In motherhood, faithfulness is driven by one goal: To act in the best interest of our children. Even if they talk back. Even when we’re weary. Even when it doesn’t seem like it’s making a difference.
Whew. That’s a tall order. We can’t do it alone.
So where can we turn? What can we do?
Here’s what helps me keep hanging tough when everything inside me wants to wimp out:
1.) I stay connected to God. I have to be in His Word. It keeps what I know to be true in the forefront of my mind. Promises like “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength” (Phil. 4:13) help me counteract those deceptive thoughts that plague me. It reminds me to draw on His power. Romans 8:11 tells us that the “Spirit of God, who raised Jesus from the dead, lives in you!” That kind of power can help me keep going — even with teenagers!
2.) I cry out to God. It’s not just “Help me, God!” Sometimes it’s more like, “I have nothing. Nada. Not one ounce of energy for this fight. I can’t keep doing this. Give me your strength.” I can’t tell you how many times I’ve prayed this prayer at certain points in my mothering journey. And He delivers.
3.) I reach out to others. We weren’t meant to do this motherhood gig alone. Knowing that others are fighting the good fight along with me makes me feel less alone. Hearing some words of wisdom from another mom who has been there and survived gives me hope. “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.” (Prov. 27:17)
4.) I get some sleep. My mothering world can seem like it’s falling apart at 10 p.m. But then I go to bed. And eight hours later, everything seems a little brighter, a little less difficult. Amazing how just a little rest can improve our perspective and recharge our resolve to carry on.
5.) I get back up when I’ve been knocked down. Sometimes, at the end of the day, I know I’ve blown it. Said angry words. Lost my patience over little things. Made selfish choices. And the enemy comes in and says, “See. You aren’t cut out for this. It’s too hard. You’re screwing this up.” Listening to that voice keeps us in an ugly place. Discouraged. Defeated. No matter how down I might feel at that moment, I’ve learned to say, “Tomorrow is a new day. I can start over.”
Faithfulness says, “I won’t let go. I won’t quit.”
I’m determined to keep standing firm with my kids. (Even though they pretend not to like it.)
This post is part of our eight-week series, “Spirited Mom: A Fruity Look at Mothering.” We’re focusing on a different Fruit of the Spirit each week, as it applies to mothering.