Since Maddelyn had her first birthday, I’ve heard several times from several different people
“How do you do it with her??”
or “She is… wow….”
or my not-so-favorite favorite
“She’s seriously a lot to handle!“
But it has happened on several occasions, nonetheless.
As her mother, I want to tell those people to…well, things I won’t type here.
How dare they??
That’s MY daughter they’re talking about!
I’ve worked in Nurseries. I’ve worked in Schools. I’ve Nannied.
Been around A LOT of kids.
And, yes, it’s true.
Maddelyn is a lot to handle.
And she is literally the most incredibly strong-willed child I’ve ever seen.
Maddelyn is the one who makes my eyes bug out of my head that a scream that shrill
or a yell that loud or words that hurtful could come out of such a small blonde curly-haired child.
She’s the one who’s the driving force behind my weekly to daily cry-fests in the laundry room.
She’s the one who isn’t afraid to stand up to someone four time her height and defy defy defy.
Maddelyn is the the one who makes me wonder if I’m doing anything right.
the apple didn’t fall far from the tree.
Maddelyn and I are both extremely strong-willed,
and it’s very easy for us to go head-to-head
in no time flat.
The truth is…
The cold, hard truth…
(because admitting when we, as Moms, don’t have it all together is hard!)
is that I’ve learned a lot from Jesse.
Jesse has a personality both Maddelyn AND I respond to very well
when our passionate emotions run high with each other.
He’s a peacemaker by nature.
We joke that I’m the fire and he’s the water,
and it’s funny and true, but honestly,
it’s also very necessary.
I know without a shadow of a doubt that no other person in this world
could handle me and love me DAILY the way I need it like Jesse can.
The way he can calm both mine and Maddelyn’s personalities
is nothing short of a blessing.
And something I’ve needed to be able to watch and experience to learn from.
I’ve prayed for a long time asking God to help me be the Mother that Maddelyn needs me to be for her.
I’ve asked Him to help me with my frustration bursts when she relentlessly pushes back and takes me to my limit.
I’ve asked Him to help me wisely handle her disobedience and defiance.
I’ve asked Him to help me set the right example for her without suppressing her spirit.
Without putting out that inner fire that makes her the undeniable force to be reckoned with that she is.
However, as incredibly intense her “strong-willed” streak is when it rears its head,
Maddelyn is the one who sings to herself around the house all day long, filling it with joy.
She’s the one who rushes with all her might to get a band-aid when she hears someone say ‘ow.’
She’s the one who leaves everyone we pass in the grocery store with a smile
from her bold and cheerful “Hi! How’s your day?” as we go by.
Maddelyn is the the one who makes me know that somewhere along the way I did do something right.
But when people make those comments asking me ‘how I do it with her,’
…it has nothing to do with me, really.
I’m human. I make mistakes all the time.
I do my absolute best, but I still wear out.
It’s God in his infinite grace.
It’s God hearing me and helping me every single time I ask for it.
It’s also Jesse.
Our marriage was definitely not by accident.
God matched me with a husband who can balance me.
A husband I can learn from.
A husband who models to me that the exact kind of gentle responses I need from him
are the ones Maddelyn needs from me.
Despite frustration, fatigue, whatever causes it…
I don’t want my kids to learn temper-driven reactions.
And I have been so afraid of messing them up because of mine.
The key (and hard part) is learning to consistently lean into God’s grace to over-ride my tendency.
And the ironic part is:
It forces me to take the whole thing to God in prayer
Having Maddelyn as my daughter literally forces me to pray almost constantly.
Because of Maddelyn, I feel like I rely on the Lord more than ever before.
And isn’t that the whole point??!
Isn’t it the whole point that God wants us to rely on Him?
Isn’t it the whole point that God wants us to trust Him because He shows up?
I mean the whole entire Bible, from start to finish, is about Him doing so.
I’ve watched God answer the prayers I prayed for Maddelyn while I was carrying her.
I prayed for her to leave others more joyful than when she first arrived,
and I see that every day.
I also prayed for her to be fearless and tough,
to be one that would stand face-to-face with Goliath and not be afraid,
and I see it constantly.
So I know God hears me now, just as He heard me then–
just like He hears every single prayer any mother prays.
I also know He gives us what we need.
I know God gave me this child to change me. To continue to mold me.
To teach me to be more gentle and self-controlled, even in the face of conflict.
To help me be more like Him, and to rely on Him, especially in my weak area.
So that’s what I’m currently working on in my journey as Mom:
Remaining gentle in nature, and gentle in responses,
even at the limit of my frustration,
and even at the brink of my sleep deprivation,
with my intentional, strong-willed, brave, beautiful daughter.
My intentional, strong-willed, brave, beautiful world-changer.
My hope is that she will wildly change it for the better,
and because of a God who bestows grace upon grace (John 1:16),
who works all things out for our good (Romans 8:28),
who so much as bends down to listen to our prayers (Psalm 116:2),
and who thinks “How dare they?? That’s MY daughter they’re talking about,”
despite any and all of our shortcomings…
I am free to both continue to grow as a person myself,
and confidently mother Maddelyn on her own mission,
fully assured that will be the case.
That even as I work on my weakness,
it is being used to train her for her purpose.
We don’t have to be perfect, and we don’t have to have all the answers.
All we have to do is keep looking to the One who is and who does.
That’s the best example we can set for our children anyway.
God will handle the rest.
If you, too, have a strong-willed child,
know you’re the perfect match for them,
and that they were given specifically to you for a reason.
They’re a major part of your calling.
And they need you for theirs.