I sit on my stairs head between my palms. Maybe if I squeeze hard enough, it will make my heart hurt less. His defiant voice still echoes down the stairwell. Little protests against the regulations and discipline.
“If you aren’t quiet, I will spank you again,” I promised as I closed the door to his room just minutes before.
He got a spanking for disobeying. But only after my pleading and cajoling him into failed attempts of acquiescence. Like a flip, our Bible stories and devotions ended, and the disobedience began. It’s as though he searches for the opportune moment to defy me, ruin the peaceful moments of bedtime.
He knows the expectations. He knows the routine. He knows the consequences. He knows all of it. And still…. STILL, he persists in defying it all. He is his own worst enemy at times.
“Why are you getting a spanking?” I had asked him.
“Because I didn’t obey.”
“That’s right. What were you told to do?”
“Stop talking and be quiet.” (Or any of the other fifteen things he’d been told but NOT done.)
“Yes. Now, I told you I was going to spank you if you kept talking, and you chose to keep talking.”
I hate it. I hate it. I hate it.
It overwhelms me, crushing my heart. It would be SO much easier to just ignore it- to threaten a spanking and hope that the threat works but knowing it won’t. It would be so much easier to just walk down the stairs and wait for big brother to yell at him to be quiet- to let them work it out themselves.
But that’s not fair. That’s not what I’m supposed to do. I’m supposed to train my children- even when it’s hard.
And so I sit on the stairs. I wait and pray that he will just be quiet so that I don’t have to go again.
Not all nights are as hard as this one. Sometimes, I can get him to just do as I ask. Sometimes, the threat of a spanking and reminder of spankings past works. Sometimes, I walk all the way down the stairs without looking back.
But it’s time like tonight when instead, I feel like a failure. Like tonight as I sit squeezing my eyes tight against the tears pushing forward. Tonight as I mentally beg my child to just do what he’s been told.
I do go back in because he is still not quiet. I flip on the light so he can see me, and I can see him. I look into those big blue eyes and try to transcend the words, hoping that he can read the emotions in my face. SO many emotions… love, exasperation, desperation, anxiety, longing, and even more love. I want this little human that has been entrusted to me to become the greatest he can be. I want him to be a man of strong character, of strong will, but one who is respectful of those in authority over him. I want him to grow in maturity knowing that he is loved despite his short-comings. I want the best for this child in every possible facet of life.
Holding his face in my hands, I say, “Mommy does not want to give you another spanking. I do not like it. I have told you to be quiet, and if you keep talking, you will get another spanking because that’s what I said I would do. Neither of us wants that. Can you be quiet now?”
A sob. A head nod.
“Okay. Thank you. I love you very much.”
“I love you too.”
I close the door again. Finally. It is quiet.
Momming is hard. It would be SO much easier to be lazy about it all. To set forth rules and regulations, but allow my kids to bend them so I didn’t have to enforce it. But what kind of parenting is that?
Certainly not the kind God has given us. Repeatedly, God has shown us how to parent. Time and time again in the Bible, both Old and New Testaments, there are reminders of his love and discipline for His children. He asks multiple times and is quick to extend grace. However, He sets forth rules that He expects to be followed. And when not followed, there are consequences.
How exasperated is God that He must continually tell us what to and not do to?
And how often do we, just as my child, push against those rules simply because we can?
I know it hurts His heart to punish us far more than it hurts mine to punish my three kids. Yet, I am thankful He loves us enough to do so. It shows that He cares enough to take the time to mold us, make us into the best versions of ourselves that we can be. For what purpose?
To become more like Him, and in becoming more like Him, we become a light to the world that is necessary. We show the world a grace and love that extinguishes the hurts and anguish of this world. Our character becomes a reflection of His in this world.
Does it hurt? Yes, it hurts. But that hurt is a reminder that our actions have consequences. And that hurt is a reminder that our Father loves us enough to take time to mold us into who He created us to be- the best versions of ourselves.