Every parent has them: bad parenting days. Today was one such day, and after what feels like an afternoon and evening of motherhood fail after fail after fail… something sinks in.
My kid is 22 months. Apparently, she’s already practicing to be a Terrible Two, as she stretches the boundaries, exercises her defiance and tests the limits of mama’s patience.
Mama’s patience wore thin today, and as a nonsensical fight between desperate mother and completely illogical toddler ended with aforementioned toddler pushing mother away and loudly proclaiming, “GO!!”… I found myself staring at that hilariously-cross, over-worked frown, her little cherub-face looking like a demon-child… and I wondered, what did I give birth to? What have I brought into the world?!
I have read it. I have heard so many mothers say it, blushing with shame and yet needing to announce it to fellow mothers. I suspected that my time would someday come and today I finally understood. For the first time ever, I looked at my strong-willed child and thought, “As much as I love her, I really don’t like her right now!”
It hurt to realize that. And all at once, I missed my daughter; the one who giggles and plays and hugs and tickles and sniffles her tears away when I kiss her ‘owee’ all better.
It made me think again of unconditional love, for the more I parent my child, the more I learn about God, my Father. I have been reading the book of Matthew of late, and when I say reading, I mean listening to an audio Bible in my car because that’s honestly all I have time for.
One thing I really love about the way that Matthew told his gospel story was the honesty and detail with which he wrote. I feel that I have come to know Jesus more, for the way that Matthew recounted His life, and something that I’ve come to learn about Jesus was that he didn’t waste His breath being politically correct and polite. He was deeply compassionate when He needed to be, but then He could also be incredibly, and impressively, confrontational.
I was surprised this week to read about Jesus saying certain things to His disciples – His own beloved followers and brethren – comments like, “Are you so dull?”
“Do you not have eyes to see? Do you not have ears to hear?”
“Are your hearts hardened?”
And my personal favourite: “How long must I put up with you?”
As I looked into my daughter’s glaring eyes this afternoon, those words flitted across my mind, and I shared an inward giggle with Jesus, directing those words to my daughter. How long must I put up with you, you defiant, strong-willed, stubborn child?!
It was not even five minutes later that she tripped on something and I lurched forward, desperate to protect her from hurting herself. Regardless of how spitting-mad she might make me, gosh I love her. To quote Jesus: “How often I have longed to gather your children together as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you would have none of it!”
I imagine the frustrating passion that Jesus must have felt for His disciples… and feels for us. The adoring love of a parent who looks at His precious child’s sulky, miserable, spoilt-brat face, and realizes that He does not like His child much at that very moment.
So I’m not the worst mother in the world, after all. Suddenly I’m ok with not liking my own daughter, because sometimes God doesn’t even like His own kids. But how He loves and adores us all with the fiercely protective love of a Daddy! No matter how bratty we are.