The question was odd. But Bubs asks a lot of strange questions so it didn’t hit me at the time the level of “weird.”
“Why is it bad to be the straw that breaks the camel’s back?”
I had about 4.7 seconds to ponder how I would answer the question and why he would ask such a random question before another mini-crisis hit our home needing immediate attention. Playing fire woman to little family fires, eating supper, and bedtime routine kept me from ever answering his thought provoking question.
When I made it to bed, I was exhausted and a ball of stress. I could feel the muscles in my back so tense I wondered if it was the flu. I knew better though. The aches in my body weren’t from the flu but stress. I was trying to carry the weight of parenting on my shoulders. Parenting Little Man to be exact.
We were on Day 3 of a downward spiral. I couldn’t leave him for a moment or destruction would happen. If I had to take him in public, I had to put on battle gear and pray I didn’t run into anyone I knew. He was yet again going through a period of lying and sneaking, all while being deceitful and manipulative. I got to the point where I didn’t want to know what he was doing. I didn’t want to walk in and find him yet again not doing as he was supposed to. I was exhausted and unable to see through the fog.
Of course this was the week that my husband was married to his job. I praise God that this is not typical but the note on Monday saying, “Don’t plan on seeing me much this week. Sorry. I love you.” was enough to put me in tears. I knew he was working on finishing a huge project but this also meant that I was in charge of getting the kids to ever appointment. More than that, this meant I had to take Little Man to every appointment – and of course this week was swamped as Sweet Pea was beginning the world of orthodontics on top of our normal speech therapy and activities. There was not a chance he could be success sitting through all of this. Plus we needed milk and some other staples. Walmart is brutal for Little Man. Sensory overload.
I messaged my accountability gals and begged for prayer. I was desperate for life to return to “manageable” and Little Man to stop the tornado of destruction. I needed them to come as Moses’ friends had in Exodus 17:12 and hold my hands up. They prayed and sent encouraging messages and verses to me each day. But they didn’t stop there. If you are friends with me on Facebook, you read that one sweet sista showed up with a meal. One took Little Man during Sweet Pea’s first orthodontist appointment. And one took Peanut so I could have a morning off to take care of me. Pray. Get my thoughts back in order. My sisters-in-Christ became the hands and feet of Jesus to me. Thank You, Jesus!
Bubs’ question about the camel stuck with me through the evening as the war of thoughts continued to battle in my mind. Am I too hard on Little Man? Are my expectations too high? Am I making a mountain out of a mole hill? Why am I feeling this way? Why. Can’t. I. Release. This. Stress.
Little Man goes through dips and valleys. He has since he was itty bitty. I hear this is very normal for ADHD kids. And, I believe the higher his mountains climb from successful times, the more brutal the valleys are for all of us. The entire family suffers when Little Man struggles to keep his impulsivity and anger in check. Little Man would be the first to tell you that he wants to make the right choice. He truly does. For whatever reason, he can’t get from Point A to Point B. He can’t keep his emotions between the ditches.
In only a Holy-Spirit way, Bubs’ question answered my questions. Taking a step back I saw that Little Man really wasn’t any worse than he had ever been. Though definitely at an extreme, we’ve seen similar valleys. Destruction, deceit, and impulsivity isn’t new.
It is excruciating to watch your child spiral downward. And Little Man is 6 1/2. I can’t imagine what it is like to have full view of a teenager or young adult ruin his or her life. But in that unimaginable thought lies my greatest fear…a child who chooses the low road. A child who runs from God. This time, it was simply the straw that broke the camel’s back.
We take God’s commandment to teach our children very seriously. We train and discipline now because we are laying a foundation. At these ages, the stakes are low and natural consequences are kinder. But with each year, there is more and more ripple effect with each poor choice.
But there in lies the problem. Control.
I want to know that if I do X, Y, Z in parenting our children, they will end up as wonderful Christians adults. I want my children to so respect me that when receiving “the look,” they immediately turn from sin. I want my children to make our home a place of peace and laughter. I want my children to be “easy” because then my life can be easy.
There isn’t a special formula to what the world considers “perfect children.” I could do absolutely everything perfect according to the gazillion parenting books and one or more of our children could stray away from God and His desires for their heart.
And that scares me to death. Stress. Panic. Control.
The “straw” is God showing me yet again that I don’t have control. And He wants it that way. For when I feel like I am control of the revolution of life, I don’t depend on Him.
Without realizing it, I made a fist again. Holding tight to everything I wanted to control. God was saying, “Let go.” He asked me to open my fist, extend my arms toward Him, and release all that I was trying desperately to control.
In gentle tone, God was telling me to stop worrying how each one of our children would turn out and take the next step in training and discipline. One step.
Well, I must close as it’s time for me to wake my little cherubs. Honestly, I am a little scared. What will Little Man do? Will he get angry? Will it involve hurtful words to me? Will he fail to move from Point A to Point B and get lost in a world of imagination? Will his emotions take him to a level that he struggles to come back down?
Mostly likely this day will be filled with redirection, discipline, and struggles. But God is asking me to take the first step.
And when that one step is over, He will ask me to take one more. And then again.
But each step will be covered with the wisdom and grace I need for that step.
One step. One step at a time. Open hands waiting for wisdom and strength.
I would love to get to know you as well.