Unlike a new nine to five job, there's no training period for parenting. Most employers know you'll have a learning curve. They anticipate you'll make a mistake or two and they (usually) put you with a more experienced co-worker to help you learn the ropes.
But motherhood doesn't give you a month to learn the job before it unleashes a helpless human on you.
And to make it worse, as soon as you find a rhythm and routine, a new season smacks you in the face and the rules go out the window again.
Parenting requires you to be constantly intuitive to what your child needs, even when they can speak because words are often their last indicator of needs. (I fail at this, daily.)
Good parenting requires you to evaluate yourself, your family, and your children and see where improvements can be made. It requires you to fight fiercely for your children.
Parenting should be hard. After all, we're raising the next generation of young men and women who must rise to the occasion of being mentally stable, God-fearing, Jesus-loving, Christ ambassadors in a world that is slightly scary and falling apart.
The Wild Ones
For the moms of the wild ones, parenting requires even more:
- A love that words can't articulate,
- endurance you never thought you had,
- patience beyond your capabilities,
- a continual sacrifice that hurts, and
- protective instincts better than a grizzly sow.
The wild ones demand you face your fears, (like doing a 5-story ropes course) and step out of your comfort zone (like dancing in the rain and picking up swarming honey bees.)
When your child is a wild one the intensity level of parenting is increased.
I know moms whose children are quiet, content, and cautious. They are laid back and low maintenance.
Not so with the wild ones.
They are high-energy, loud, and carefree.
They need engagement, entertainment, and have energy that never seems to stop.
Left unrestrained, their good intentions can cause havoc, and their care-free spirit can get them into trouble.
The wild ones get the bad reputation of being too loud and too shushlie (an old word my Grandmother uses for squirmy).
They are dismissed when they have good intentions because their approach isn't refined. I've seen the dismissive looks and condescending tone used to dismiss my wild one whose heart is kind and caring and it breaks my heart.
The wilds ones are quick-whitted thinkers who don't fit into the box society has made but God never created.
Raising A Child Like Mine
Watching our son grow up is so amazing it hurts my heart.
Stuck between wild child and young man, he can throw a fit about the shirt I tell him to wear to church and an hour later lead me in communion with a simple yet profound prayer that brings me to tears.
His fierce independence and strong will can be as bad a Category 4 hurricane. And as soon as I think I can't possibly take another moment of it, he turns to me and says, “I'm sorry Mommy, I love you,” and kisses me on the forehead, and the lips, and both cheeks.
And when I've gotten the best of myself and I throw a mini fit he's quick to take my hand and say, “Mommy stop it! We need to pray.”
A moment later he's talking to his imaginary friend and making gun fire noises with his army men.
He loves a hot tea – peach is his favorite and he can't wait to be an adult so he can make rules. (I think all kids say that, don't they?)
This constant ebb and flow from mini-man to care-free kid is taxing on me (and Daddy).
From the outside, he must look wild, loud and “all boy.” I hear that often.
He probably seems overly rambunctious, hyper and hard to handle.
Maybe he is.
Yet if you look deeper I think you'll see it too.
The man-child who holds open doors for others, hold conversations with complete strangers and asks people if they know Jesus loves them is far more than a rambunctious, hyper kid.
Of course I'm biased. I should be. He's my gift, carried, birthed, nursed and prayed for daily by me. And my biggest fear is that I'm failing and he really is just another obnoxious kid. It eats at me some days and brings me to tears more than I care to admit.
Then someone will notice what I think is lost.
Just last week, on our way to vacation a truck driver in a convenience store told me my son is special, and not a condescending special. He said, “You are doing a great job. He's special. I see a lot of kids and rarely does a little boy say ‘excuse me' or ‘thank you'. Keep up the good work.”
It isn't the first time. It's like Daddy's encouragement when I need it most. When I can feel the judgment of other because my son isn't pliable and perfect or when the enemy has convinced me for a moment that I'm failing, Daddy reminds me that He created my son and He is fully in love with him, wild and all.
I can't dwell too long on what other people think what other people think. It hurts too much or makes me so mad I could spit. I just pray and hope they don't casually dismiss and disapprove the loud ones because a truth I have learned since becoming a mother is this: you cannot spend a few hours with someone else's child and know them.
Children are not mini adults. It was not God's design for them to come out of the womb refined, polished, and perfect. God designed children to grow and learn and He gave us the enormous responsibility and wonderful privileged of molding them without crushing them.
Even the loud ones.
Even the rambunctious ones.
Even the wild ones.
I admit, other people's kids are not my forte. I could not do daycare or teach full time. My hat is off to those who do. But my prayer is those who spend time with other people's children see past the external actions and into the heart of those kids.
Ask them questions.
Guide them toward Christ.
Don't assume they're wild and out of control.
Don't assume their actions are malicious.
You never know what the child is learning at home.
Maybe they have never heard the word No. Maybe no one gives them an encouraging word or positive feedback.
Or maybe their parents are working hard to teach, train, and disciple without crushing the God-given tenacity and curiosity they have.
Maybe they have a godly mentor.
Maybe they are just being a kid while trying so hard to be like the adults in their lives. A blend of kind-hearted, sensitive, and caring Christian mixed with rambunctious, snips and snails and puppy dog tails.
Raising Your Wild One
I wish I could end this post a “top ten list of helps” for raising a wild one.
Maybe one day.
I don't know a quarter of what I should and some days even less.
But today I'll tell you, mama, never stop.
Don't stop reigning them in.
Don't stop letting them go.
Don't stop fighting for them.
Don't stop defending them.
Don't stop evaluating behaviors, molding, and shaping their world view. Be that good parent I described above.
Don't let anyone squash your child's spirit.
Point them to Christ, every day in all they do.
Don't always point out the negative and the wrong they do. (I fail at this daily.)
After all, the wild at heart were made in the image of God.
Let the wild ones live, let them be strong and fierce, caring and courageous. And let their moms have the courage to parent them well.