There we were outside on this rare beautiful day. I was raking, basking in the sun trying to ignore my sore hands. My daughter and nephew were digging in my flower bed enjoying the freedom. Suddenly with no warning, my ever so distressed daughter starts running toward me "moooommmmmy". In her eyes I knew that this was serious business, but my first thoughts were, "oh geez what is it!" I stopped my raking and knelt down so I could look her in the eyes.
"What is it lily? What's the matter?"
"Mommy, I don't wanna be outside, it's too sunny", she had a whine in her voice that was all too familiar to my ears. The kind of whining that makes my blood start to boil.
"Well hunny, the sun is good for you, it keeps you healthy, now run along now and play with Adam, we don't have much time out here today"
"Ok," Again the whine that has the tendency to get my head spinning.
So she and Adam ran off, and I resumed my chore. My thoughts went to my other daughter, I glanced at my phone, only been 15 minutes since I last checked on her. She wasn't due to wake up for at least another forty five minutes. I glanced over at the other two only to catch the tail end of lily walking through the front door.
Very perplexed and a bit annoyed, I set my rake down and headed for the door. No sooner had I got there and she was on her way back out with two strollers.
"We gonna play with these outside mommy k?" I knew full well this was not a question, it was a telling of what she was going to do and if I challenge it, she was gonna fight me full force.
Well, I don't back down from a fight with my daughter very often, so I protested.
"Lily you did not ask me if you could have those strollers outside"
" I don't want tooooo", the last word dragged out into a low growl, one I thought might resemble an angry dog. So I thought, here we go, she's ready to pounce.
She was starting to get limp with a temper so I pressed on
"Hunny, mommy doesn't have a problem with you bringing certain toys outside, but you need to ask first."
On a good day this comment brings on a. "Ok mommy, may I....please"
However, unannounced to me, this was not a good day
"I'm not!" complete with hands crossed and pouted lips.
First, I took a breath
Then, I bent down to her level once again
"Ok, if you are not going to ask mommy nicely, then go put the strollers away, you may not play with them outside,"
Well this brought stomping and grumbling, but she proceeded to obey and put the strollers away. I called her over when her chore was done.
"Now we are going to go outside and enjoy the day at least until your sister wakes up."
She said not a word, just walked by me out the door. (Well more like pranced, with her head held high.)
Proud of my daughter not talking back to me again, I resumed my raking with my spirits lifted once again. Granted she did have an attitude with me, but it was not followed by a snotty remark so, I decided to give her grace on her defiant body language. I started to hum a hymn I've had in my head for several weeks now,
"Though none go with me, still I will follow,"
A smile formed on my face as I was enjoying the tune of one of my life songs. Thanking the maker once again for the sunshine.
I heard it again, the front door was closing. Lily was prancing inside and Adam wasn't far behind.
All that smiling turned fast into an angry gritting of teeth, in frustration. I once again set my rake down and headed for the door. Inside I heard Breia whimpering and Lily saying sweetly, through the monitor, "Time to get up B I don't wanna go back outside,"
"Oh Lord help me now!, I need the patience and strength to handle this awful situation", it was me saying these words that kept my blood from boiling over. Only by his grace did I not flip on my child.
I darted into the girls room passing Adam, who obviously didn't wanna seem like he was in on it. I found Lily in the crib kneeling behind her sister, now sitting up, patting her gently on the back. Breia was, naturally, sleepy eyed and totally bewildered. I said very sternly to lily,
"Get out of that crib, and go sit on the couch I will be out in a minute."
She climbed out and proceeded to leave the room, not without looking behind her to give me one of those "I'm smarter than you think I am," smirks.
I layed Breia back down, and rubbed her back, hoping she would drift off once again. Poor thing, it didn't take long before her eyes were just too heavy to keep open.
Out in the living room, seeing me, made lily frown. I knew she was fully expecting to see me walk out with Breia. I sat next to her on the couch and instantly changed my mind about punishing her in the usual way. After all wasn't going back outside going to be punishment enough for her?
"Do you know why mommy is upset?
"Yeah, I woke up Breia"
"Lily, you do not go in your bedroom when Breia is sleeping, and you do not go in her crib, clear?"
Well that was a start, at least there was communication
"Now why don't you want to go outside?"
"Cause........ I don't know"
"Mommy has more raking to do so we are going back outside, and you and Adam are to stay out there with me, is that clear?"
She proceeded toward the door, this time with no attitude. I was shocked, but the more that I thought about it, I think she was just in shock herself. In her mind she got away with something, there was no usual spanking. However I was now on high alert, realizing my daughter had an axe to grind, and I was the target.
I went back outside, determined, she was not going to get the best of me on this day. My temper was not going to boil, and my emotions were not going to overtake me.
We were outside without incident for the next twenty minutes or so. At which time I put my rake down and headed toward the kids.
"Time to go inside and start making lunch"
"Noooo Mommy, I won't", Oh no here we go
"You do not speak to me like that," I said very sternly to her.
I started toward her to give her flick on her defiant mouth.
She uddered not a word. A sure sign her fits were not over.
"Now, lets go we can come back out when we are done with lunch", I looked intently at my daughter who was giving me the look of death. They both stood up and headed for the door.
Inside, I began preperations for a typical Lunch, Adam and Lily were playing so nicely with the toys that were already spread across the floor from earlier that morning.
Lunch was nearing serving time, so I went in to get my youngest, who was showing signs of coming out of slumber. I walked out and informed the older children it was time to clean up.
"....lunch is almost ready, we need the toys cleaned up so we can go back outside after we finish"
Well this sent Lily into a fury. She began to flop around on the floor whining,
"Mommy, I don't wanna go outside"
Seriously? I had an oversized worm wiggling across the floor, she was flopping around so effortlessly. Was I really witnessing this? I was left with no choice, I took her into her bedroom... and sat with her for a few minutes until she quieted down.
In those moments, hearing those sobs, I believe the Lord spoke to my spirit.
"She is just like you Sarah!"
How many times do I whine? How many times do I give "lip" for what I think I want? The reality is, I don't know what I want.
I was willing to hear Lily out, she was just too stubborn to see what was right in front of her. I wanted her to enjoy the beauty of the day. To give her something different, give her a chance to run and play outside where there is more freedom.
My mind is, so often, too focused on what I don't have. I don't even realize that the Father is teaching me something. He is trying to tell me that, its not about me.
"Try something new", he says, "look beyond your own stubbornness, you might just like this new concept, this new road."
"Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross, and follow me." Mathew 16:24
I'm confident that doesn't mean only when we want to. Only when we like what he is telling us or when we like where he is leading.