My child threw a fit today.

Most of you just visualized a pouting child with crossed arms who is momentarily unwilling to do what is expected of her, much like this:

Unfortunately, that visual would be grossly incorrect. Let me paint a different picture (I don’t have a real picture, because there is not a mother on the planet whipping her camera out to take a picture of this):

I was attending a resource and encouragement class for moms this morning at a local life center. It is a class that I helped create and market. After the class, I had a scheduled meeting with the company’s Head of Health and Wellness Marketing, to discuss how the company can partner with another mom’s group that I led. It was also about my potential role as the company’s “mommy” voice on their blog, as well as a speaker at events they hold for women and mothers.

I only explain all of this because I need you to understand the irony of a situation where I am discussing my passion and role to equip mothers, while simultaneously my very own child decides to throw the biggest fit of her entire five years of existence.

She was across the room with the childcare workers, and she asked them if she could take home the coloring book she had been coloring. The answer was, understandably, no. Apparently, this coloring book held every secret to life my child has ever known and was made of candy and gumballs, because she proceeded to lose her ever-loving mind.

This girl knows how to throw a fit, and this was her best one ever. I’m talking blood curdling scream after blood curdling scream. It continued with hysterics and flailing body parts as she ran away from everyone trying to catch her and calm her down (we are in a place of business!!).

I had to end my meeting and drag her (literally, drag her body) out the door. We dropped everything we carried, spilling drinks and food, as every head in the place and in the parking lot stared at us. There were people I did not know, who were picking up my stuff and shoving it into my van with an obvious, “quick get them out”.

Humbled.

So very humbled.

Please, resist any urge you have right now to think thoughts such as, “If that were my child, I would have just ______(fill in the blank with a fool-proof plan)______”.  I have already received advice from the childcare workers as I was dragging her out, and I received them at the last class when she threw a fit about me leaving her.

Stop and hear my heart.

If motherhood has taught me anything it’s this: There is a big difference between an undisciplined child and a strong-willed child. Every single mother of a strong-willed child has tried everything there is to fill in that blank, and then she has tried 50 more ideas no one has ever thought of, each one more creative and time consuming than the last.

Fortunately, three of my four children are strong willed.

Yes, I meant to type fortunately, because strong willed individuals possess a power within them that can mightily change this world

My youngest and my oldest are off the charts strong-willed. It wears me to my core. I mean, is it too much to ask to have one hour, just one, where we are not fighting over what clothes we are wearing, what order we are conducting our morning in, what expectations we have for the day, what cup we are using, or how we cut the ridiculous banana…and for goodness sake, can we just be on time to one thing…one thing!!??  Can Mommy just breathe for a second and have a glimpse that everything might someday be easy?

Of course, that rant reveals two of my greatest sins: pride and control. I can hear countless confirmations from God that I am raising these kids right, but all it takes is one side glance from one person, and I lose my foothold on truth. I have to strongly fight myself from flinging headfirst into proving to whomever and to myself that I am a good mother. It’s pride at its finest. Far too often, I have to pick myself up and remember who and what defines me…and it’s not other people.

Control is an entirely different story.  For me, it takes no conscious thought to fight for things to be “under control”. It is my natural bend to control my environment. I used to think I was good at it, convincing myself that I had my life mastered. I also had a justification list a mile long to prove that being in control was a good thing. That is why God gave me four kids in four years, and that is why three of them are strong willed. It is not because “God knew that I could handle it”, but because God knew I could not handle it. This one is beyond me and without going to my knees every day…every hour…I wouldn’t make it through. I’m learning to let go of control. In my struggle God is building character, and I wouldn’t trade who I am becoming for any amount of perceived control or prideful appearances.

I’m making this entirely too much about me. In the end, it’s about this child and who God has designed her to be. I know where she could be right now if it weren’t for the perseverance God has developed in me. I also know where she could end up as an adult, but praise God, He has a beautiful plan for this little girl.

Nothing of beauty, depth, and significance comes easily.  So, I press on, for the life purpose of my child, and I press on for the glory of God.

I want all mothers to know that they are great mothers, but today if you are struggling with a child whose will has you on your knees, please listen to me: You are a great mother. You are making a difference. God is right there beside you, ready to help you shape this child into the strong leader He needs them to be. This might be the battle of your life, but it is worth staying strong and fighting for. If you’ve had a particularly horrendous moment, pick yourself up and know that you are covered in prayer right now, and I will say it again, you are a great mother, and you are not alone. “Let us not grow weary in doing good, for we will reap a harvest in due time if we do not give up.” – Galatians 5:9

 

Press on, dear mothers…press on.

 

Dawn Tiffany
Dawn is a writer, speaker, and leader of Fulfilled Ministries, the women’s ministry at Liberty Christian Fellowship church in Liberty, Mo. The ministry exists to equip women to discover the promises God has for their lives and how to embrace those promises on a daily basis. In addition to her ministry, Dawn is also the mother of four children and a wife of fifteen years.