Thursday, January 10, 2008

Parenting...

January 6th was a mementos day in our household. It was the culmination of weeks of build-up, anticipation, and maybe just a little dread. This event had been long discussed and debated in regard to exact time it should take place, but finally on Saturday we decided the moment was right. It was time to make the transition. It was time for Marianna to sleep in her big girl bed.

I think Nathan and I both sensed the impending storm, and subconsciously we put it off, hoping that something would prevent our being able to go over to my parents and retrieve all of the furniture we purchased back in the summer from their attic. In the end, we didn’t end up moving everything over until late Saturday night, and by the time the crib was finally disassembled and the new bed was up in its place, it was 11:00 p.m. We tucked a very cheerful, and strangely wide-awake, Marianna into the bed. We kissed her goodnight, turned out the lights, shut the door, and let the battle of the wills commence.

We eventually lost count of the number of times Marianna emerged from her room over the next hour, but I would guess she made somewhere in the neighborhood of 15 to 20 appearances. We held firm and won out in the end, but the battle took its toll on all involved. Honestly, I found that the hardest part of the entire ordeal was trying to keep a straight face in the midst of her numerous- and I might add extremely creative- attempts to avoid what we had told her she must do: remain in her room.

Since Saturday the battles have become progressively less lengthy, although we’ve had a naptime flare up or two that were certainly notable, but the entire experience has given me a lot to chew on. I’m beginning to think that God allows parents a special glimpse of His perspective in being our Heavenly Father. I know I’ve already seen on a small scale the magnitude of what God did for us by allowing Jesus to leave Heaven and come here to Earth. I think letting go of Poppy helped me to understand that as best as my mind can comprehend. As I've said before, having Poppy has changed my perspective and given me new lenses through which to see everything, including parenting. Because of this, I’m seeing in a new and fresh way how many aspects of raising my child can shed light on the way God sees us.

What has stood out to me over the past few days is how clearly I can see myself and my relationship with God mirrored in Marianna’s antics. Maybe what stands out above all else is my stubbornness. When this first occurred to me, I bucked up against the thought, but the more I considered, the more I realized how accurate the picture really was. I may not be as openly defiant, but just as Marianna tells us by her actions exactly what she thinks about our plan for her, I subtly do the same to God when He tells me what His best is for me. Marianna has showed me that there are a number of ways to do this, and I’ll share just a few of my favorites.

1. Rationalization: Marianna has mastered this technique. My favorite example of this happened that first night. She tiptoed out of her room, shut the door with her finger to her lips, and told us that she had to leave her room because she had put her book to bed. I believe in her mind she had come up with an airtight case for avoiding bedtime: she could not stay in her room because she would obviously disturb her book by doing so! I think my excuses must sound just as silly to God, as I make arguments that are so sound and logical in my own head, but in the end are just attempts at avoiding what He has told me is best.
2. Blame: Yesterday as I was sitting on the couch waiting to see if Marianna would go down for her nap, I saw her bedroom door swing open. When I questioned her about it, she immediately yelled out “Chum did it!” The fact that the dog could never have opened the door if she had not first cracked it for him didn’t occur to her. But once again, I see now how I do the exact same thing. I blame other circumstances (fear, intimidation, anger, busyness, etc) for preventing me from doing what God wants, but I don’t acknowledge that I am the one who opened up the door and allowed something to come in and get a foothold in my life in the first place.

Many more examples come to mind, but I think you see the point. Yet, as I’ve struggled with Marianna over the past few days, what I’ve felt stronger than anything else is my love for her. Her disobedience and stubbornness hasn’t lessened my love for her one iota. In fact, it’s allowed me to see just how much I love her. I want what’s best for her, so even though I hate when she cries and I hate when I have to punish her, I do it because I love her. So it is with God. If you have ever struggled with knowing how God can love you in spite of what you do, consider your children. I realize now that there is nothing Marianna could do to make me love her less. And God tells us that he loves us with a love that is greater and deeper than that with which we are capable of loving our own children. Nothing could sum it up better than John 3:16. “For God so loved the world that He gave is only son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life.”

18 comments:

Jaclyn said...

we are going through bit of the same...for the fIrst time we are really trying to let our 8 month old "cry it out" at night and not go running in at every wimper. Can we say strong willed? Even at 8 months!
What you say is true. Since having Grace I feel like i understand a bit better Gods love for me. Although, I know it is something I will never truly "get".
Angie....you have touched my heart more than I can say and I continue to pray for you. I feel strongly that the Lord led me to hear you and Boothe's stories. You continue to teach me new things and I thank you!

Laurie said...

Oh Angie, this is good, so good and so cute. As a grandmother now, this is even more evident of the love between Father and Child, and Grandchild. Could this be why He mentioned "through the mouths of babes"?:) What a joy to be a parent and see ourselves mirrored back at us. God has such a beautiful sense of humor and love to show us these things. I am so grateful our God is so well rounded for all of lifes moments. Put her book to bed, what a crack up classic!! It only gets better Angie and more precious and heartbreaking at times, as our love for them needs to become a little tougher in bigger situations. We are all a work in progress that God lets us be participants in. He does good work and I see it in you Big Time. You bless me so much and I love you. Thank you for all you have done for others also. You sure can be counted on:)

Love, Laurie in Ca.

Anonymous said...

Angie,
I hope you have a blog forever.
connie

Jessica said...

AHHH - The big girl bed! It will get easier! They are too funny with all of their excuses, though! I felt the same way when we switched Maddie over, and God continues to teach me daily through the girls. I love that! It makes it all so real and I am learning so much more and paying attention to Him better because of it! I love your blog!

Shane and Devin said...

Angie,

That was funny, touching, and so true all at the sime time. I experience all those same sorts of things on a daily basis with my three sons (just turned 4, just turned 2, and an almost 1-year-old).

What a great reminder and encouragement that God loves us in the same way that we love our children--that's so wonderful to think on!

Devin in Illinois

Rhondi said...

That is so perfect for me right now, considering I'm doing the exact same thing with my own son. Thank you for shedding more light on the subject & having me look at it from a different perspective.

CresceNet said...

Hello. This post is likeable, and your blog is very interesting, congratulations :-). I will add in my blogroll =). If possible gives a last there on my site, it is about the CresceNet, I hope you enjoy. The address is http://www.provedorcrescenet.com . A hug.

Crystal said...

Well, we just moved Betsie to the big girl bed two Saturdays ago. We also dreaded the day and found it hard to keep a serious face when the door quickly opened after we had tucked her in tightly. What a blessing children are especially as the Lord uses them to sanctify us by showing us our sins.

Kenzie Stanfield said...

Angie-

This post just made me smile the whole time I was reading... what an awesome perspective! You are givning me things to think about as we haven't yet moved Deacon to his big-boy bed... one of those things where he doesn't get out, so why fight it right now? : )

Thanks for sharing your life with us!

Love much,
Kenzie

So Blessed said...

Though my children are now adults, one of the greatest lessons I have learned is the correlation of my love for them and our Father's love for us....and what a precious lesson that is. As much as we love our children unconditionally, our heavenly Father loves us even more. We can trust that His ways are best...
May He continue to bless you and your family. I am praying for all of you.

Anonymous said...

HI...i JUST REAd much of your blog for the first time....I am so so sorry for your loss. I love the montage of your daughter Poppy. I could just see the joy on your faces!

Our baby Kelly was still born on June 8th of this year. It was and is still so hard, but we know this was God's plan for Kelly and for us. She also had t-18.

God Bless you and your family.
Anne marie lillwit
AM_lillwitz@yahoo.com

Aunt_Nette said...

My little cousin is rather strong willed also.
We all went to the race car park one morning. Then we grabbed a light lunch and went home. After a couple of minutes we realized we did not know where Katherine was. So finallywe went and checked her room. evidently she walked straight to her room and laid down and fell fast to sleep. No arguements, tippy-toes, drinks or anything.

Rebecca said...

Thanks for telling us about Marianna's big girl bed adventures.

I hope you'll tell us more about her.

I'm curious. Does she ask about Poppy?

Angie Luce said...

she actually doesn't ask about her anymore. she did right at first, but she had an easy time accepting that she is with Jesus in heaven. if you ask her, she'll tell you that Jesus takes care of Poppy (along with Mary and Joseph.. since she died around the time we were teaching her the Christmas story, she associates Mary and Joseph with Jesus). she does enjoy talking about her, and often brings her up on her own. i'm glad that she has so many pictures to help her remember. thanks for asking!

Jen in Al said...

Great reminders!!! it always amazing how God teaches me so much through my sweet children. Sometimes, it is especially through their disobedience! it is a great comfort to know that God is so intimately in control and involved in every aspect of our lives, using every opportunity to draw us closer to Him. Molding us into the image of His Son. i have to say that Marianna is so cute!!! i LOVED her singing Happy Birthday to sweet Poppy!!! Praying for you every day!
Jen in al

Kim (marygracesummons.blogspot.com) said...

Angie,
Lesson....life goes on huh? What a sweet cute story. I went through a week with Allison fighting bed time (about 2 weeks into finding out about Mary Grace) - I thought wow - timing is a cruel thing - Am I being punked?? One thing about it...it helps us to focus on what's in front of us. You are such a precious Mother and I love reading what your write and have to say. You are a blessing!
Kim

Laurie said...

Hi Angie,

Just checking in on you today to see how Marianna is doing getting her book to sleep in her new bed:) This still is making me laugh. I am praying for you guys that your week has been sweet as you continue to learn about yourselves from this little cutie. And I know we are all praying for Kim as she meets Mary Grace tomorrow. Praying hard here.

Love, Laurie in Ca.

Tracy said...

Oh goodie :) We are about to convert our 2 year old to the big boy bed as well. We just put together his furniture and all I need to do is put sheets on the bed. Boy oh boy...I can't wait! ha! :)