push + love

This week has been one for the books. Coming off a long & relaxing holiday weekend, maybe I should have expected it, but regardless, I have been pushed to [what feels like] my limits. And then pushed beyond them. Way, way beyond them. I get frustrated, upset, enforce the rules + discipline, then a few minutes pass and I feel awful for getting frustrated in the first place. 

If you're a parent, it's a familiar pattern. Whether you stay home or not, every Mama goes through the push & love cycle with their children. Your little one pushes the boundaries, pushes your buttons, or just pushes (fights) against everything you are trying to do. You lose patience, yell, or just resort to putting your child in their crib while you take a deep breath and reset yourself. Then moments pass, they smile at you, giggle, or give you a look that makes your whole world stop and crumble. You feel guilty, apologize, and wonder how you ever got upset. 

Sound familiar?

I remember when Olivia was just a baby, even up until about 9-10 months, when she rarely pushed me or Dustin. She was always content, never really fussed & was full of joy what felt like 24-7. I looked at her and wondered if there would ever come a time where she disobeyed, where she pushed the limits and acted up. At the time, I couldn't picture myself ever getting angry with her, or worse yet -- yelling. She was so innocent and tender-hearted, how could she possibly disobey?

Then around 11-12 months, her "toddler stage" started. And don't get me wrong, she is still a very tender and mild little girl, but there are days weeks that I just can't help but want to scream because every time I turn around, something is going wrong. The pictures that nobody actually shares, the moments you don't really talk about because you'd rather forget --- food being chewed and then spit out onto the floor or rug; having a toy taken away and throwing a fit; throwing books and toys out from the crib or pack & play; squeezing watermelon until the juice covers both her clothes & the floor; getting into places and spaces that just aren't for little girls. 

When things like that happen, my first reaction is to get upset. I tell her NO in a firm voice. [I use the term "firm" loosely.] In that moment, I feel good about enforcing the rules. I followed my instinct. But then she looks at me with her big blueberry eyes all welled with tears, silently telling me she has understood what I've said. Cue the guilt. And the heartache. Then she comes over to me, wraps her arms around me or gives me eskimo kisses and everything she had done fades away.

I call this the "push & love" of motherhood.

In those moments I feel pushed, I am working on my patience. There is a time to enforce a rule and to discipline, but there is also a time to give grace to your child because sometimes, they truly don't mean to push the limits. There are many external factors which affect a child's behavior [sickness, teething, growth, sleep patterns/adequate rest, hunger, etc.] and instead of waiting for her love to kick in, I focus on patience through the pushing instead of an immediate [negative] reaction.

I also ask for God's help through the push & love. It is in those difficult, frustrating moments where I need God the most -- where I throw my hands up and just say, "God, I can't do this without you" or "Help me through today because I can't do it on my own" || He is always faithful. He softens my heart when it needs to be softened, or he gives me strength to discipline when necessary. He whispers that I am doing the best job I know how and that no matter what, Olivia is so loved. He reminds me that I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength, especially succeed at motherhood. 

Psalm 16:8 says "I keep my eyes always on the Lord. Because He is at my right hand, I will not be shaken" || I often replace "shaken" with "pushed" and I remind myself that because God is with me, because He is my focus, I do not have to be pushed. It is a matter of perspective. I can practice [my own] self discipline, love, grace, kindness, gentleness and tenderness toward Olivia even on the toughest of days. I can still tell her NO, I can still teach her what behavior is acceptable and what behavior is not, but I can do it all with love. After all, that is going to teach her the most anyway. By being an example, she will see first hand what is important.

So instead of the push & love, how about the love & love? Even when you are pushed, try responding with love to your child. Respond with gentleness and grace, even when it is challenging and unnatural, as it often is. The past two days with Olivia have been one thousand times better.
Why? Because patience and love have been my main focus. 


  1. I can SO relate to the "push and love" of motherhood. I often get trapped in guilt of getting flustered. We are making our way through the two's and we have had a rough go over the last couple of weeks. Such a great reminder for me. Thank you dear friend!

  2. Love love love this all!! And needed it! It's been one of those weeks for us too, and I've faced the guilt one too many times. Just got off the phone after venting to my mom only to find Hannah took off her diaper and peed on the carpet. I laughed and laughed. Felt so much better than feeling frustrated again. You're an amazing mom! It's obvious. :)


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