Do you feel like your kids are determined to make you crazy? Probably not their intent!
Early on in motherhood I developed a simply strategy – when life gets crazy, reach for the flour tortillas. This most basic of foods was, and still is, grace to my mothering menu. Everyone likes them, no one complains. Quick. Easy. Done.
When the kids were feeling picky, when we were running low on groceries, when I was tired and had no lunch or dinner game whatsoever, I could throw whatever we had in a tortilla and the kids would be happy. Scrambled eggs, refried beans, even peanut butter and jelly – my kids never complained when I wrapped it up in a tortilla.
I adopted this strategy with my firstborn and set the precedent for years to come.
The Little Quirks That Drive Us Crazy
And it was perfect, save for one small issue; my son, about 4 years old at the time, would always eat the bottom of the tortilla first. I carefully wrapped my humble tortillas into a little pocket, tucking the bottom end in nice and tight, and leaving the other end open. Without fail, my boy would turn that little wrap upside down, and bite into the bottom end first, while everything I tucked neatly inside the tortilla funneled right onto his lap and eventually, the floor.
I tried coaching him.
Buddy, that’s the wrong end. You need to start at the top of the burrito, not the bottom.
But I got nowhere. Before I could even get the words out of my mouth, he’d grab, turn, and bite the wrong end every. single. time. And there we were again – two open ends and refried beans caked on the floor.
Before conceding and training myself to tuck both ends of the burrito, I got plenty frustrated over the whole thing.
“What is wrong with that child?” I asked my husband, “Can he not learn to eat a burrito right side up?”
You know those things that seem to be a really big deal at the time and are laughable a few years later? This may very well qualify, particularly now that I have 4 kids and food falls on my floors on a daily basis.
What Makes Our Children Unique?
However, that same boy is now a 12 year old, and the other day he sat at the kitchen bar eating a burrito for lunch and told me. “I’ve always loved burritos, mom.”
“I know you have.” I smiled.
“Do you know what my favorite part is?” He asked.
I half laughed because we are talking about an I’m-running-out-of-groceries burrito here; there aren’t too many parts to it.
“What is your favorite part?” I asked, truly interested now.
“The ends. They are all warm and soft and tucked in really tight. That’s the very best part.”
I think I dropped my dish towel on the floor and stopped and stared at him. Twelve years old – not quite a boy, not quite a man. A little gangly, a little awkward, this sweet and daily changing mix of everything.
He loves the ends. Of course he does. How did I miss that? The four year old that drove me crazy eating burritos upside down loved them, too. I just never understood it.
I paused to wonder about him and his three siblings. All sweet kids that I love wildly, but sometimes have traits that seem solely designed to drive their mother insane. What if more often than not, I’m simply missing it? Missing what makes them unique, missing parts of their one-of-a-kind design, missing the fact that they really aren’t trying to drive me crazy, they simply like the ends of burritos best.
Opportunities to See More Closely
I know as mothers we have this incredible responsibility to shape and guide, to teach and grow responsible human beings. Preferably, ones that don’t make burrito messes for their entire lives.
But what if the things that drive us crazy also speak wildly of their unique design?
How many of my present frustrations in parenting are simply opportunities for me to take a second look, draw a little closer and learn a little more about the amazingly unique children God has given me?
God, grant me grace and patience with the kids that you have given me. Thank you for making them so creative and unique. Help me to see them like you do; give me a heart that loves and appreciates even amidst messy floors and personalities that I don’t always understand. Your power is made perfect in our weakness and sometimes (most times?) being an agent of grace in motherhood feels beyond me, but it is never beyond You. I trust You to help me lead and grow my children faithfully and gracefully, always and only for your glory. Amen.
Katie Westenberg is a wife, mother and writer who is passionate about living life bravely for the glory of our Creator and encouraging others to do the same. She enjoys country living in a small town, time spent with friends and family, and saying YES to adventure. She writes at ichoosebrave.com.