Bedtime. I lay down next to Judah to cuddle. “Mama,” he said,”kann ich dir ein Lied singen?” Can I sing you a song? His sweet little voice reached my ear:
“Maaaaaama, ich liiiiiiebe dich so sehr;
Maaaaaaaama, du bist eine schoene Prinzessin;
Maaaaaaaama, du bist die Beste…”
Mama, I love you.
Mama, you’re a beautiful princess.
Mama, you’re the best.
A 3-year-old’s ode to his mother, his princess. The challenges and joys of motherhood collided that moment. I smiled, kissed him goodnight, went into our bedroom, and collapsed on the bed, exhausted. It had been one of those days… you know? One of those days.
The days when your child seems to forget every single letter of the alphabet that you’ve taught them for the last month.
The days when a banana that breaks in half causes a major meltdown.
The days when the response to every command is whining or just a flat-out “No.”
The days when all children are crying before breakfast is even on the table.
The days when “Mama” is said so often that you want to change your name and not tell anyone about it.
The days when you look at your child in bewilderment and just think, “You’re upset about THAT?!?”
The days when all brotherly love seems to have evaporated.
The days when no Truth or training seems to make any difference in your child’s heart.
The days when your child seems to not be able to sit still for even 3 seconds.
The days when it is YOUR child that has the meltdown in the grocery aisles over Ninja Turtle fruit snacks.
As I lay in bed, thinking about the challenging day and the beauty of a child’s love for his mother, I remembered something John had said to me just a couple of weeks earlier. During a time when I was struggling with impatience and irritability toward our boys, John had asked me this simple question, “Are your expectations wrong?” As much as I did not want to hear that at the time, I knew in my heart that my husband was right. I expected my boys to behave. To learn whatever valuable skill I was teaching them. To follow directions promptly and perfectly. To be respectful. To love their brother. To obey right away, without challenge, without complaining. In short, to not sin.
Every day, those expectations were crushed with the heavy weight of broken hopes and fears of failure. It was robbing the joy out of motherhood for me. I knew I had to change my expectations because those days will always be there. I can’t wait for my children to be perfect before I can enjoy life with them and just enjoy… them.
So what am I learning to expect now? To expect the battles every day. And to brace myself to fight them well with the weapons of grace and Truth, not to “win” or to “control” my children, but for the sake of their souls. Changing my expectations for motherhood has not lowered our parental standards or changed the desires I have for our boys. But it has changed how I view each day and how I handle the challenges when they come. Frustration is replaced with grace-filled discipline. Anger is replaced with a new determination to persevere. And broken hopes are replaced with a clinging to the goodness and sovereignty of God.
Motherhood is a journey of many things… a journey of joys and challenges. And for me, it has become a journey of expectations.