A year or so ago we introduced Isaiah to “Candy Land”, his first board game. He loves it and understands it more now…but he always wants to be the winner of the game.
Pick a card that makes you go backwards? Just put it back and pick a new one. Another player is farther ahead than you? Just cry or insist you catch up to them. Needless to say, the game usually “ends” before it actually ends.
Isaiah wants to play the game, but he wants to be in control and has certain expectation as to how it should go. He wants the end result of winning, but he eventually loses interest in actually enjoying the game.
It sometimes stinks when you see so much of yourself in your child.
Adam and I have always enjoyed a good board game, but some time before we even got married, I started to refuse to play Yahtzee with him. Because I always seemed to lose. And I hated that. Sure the game takes a little strategy, but for the most part, winning or losing is dependent upon the luck of your roll, not your skill, ability, or intelligence. I couldn’t control the outcome of the game. So I quit playing it. And no, I’m not 3 years old.
You see, when it comes to games, our tastes seem to reflect the opposite of our personalities. Adam loves strategy games like “Risk” and “Settlers of Catan”. I, however, am tempted to roll my eyes just thinking about them! I would much rather play a game that I don’t have to think too much about, that involves a lot of laughing, and that leaves me feeling zero guilt or shame for losing.
Maybe that’s why I like those kind of games. Because in “real life” I play the game of strategy and winning and losing, rather than a laid back enjoyment of life (more like Adam). I love to plan, organize, and think through the best way to get things done. But I also tend to analyze, think too much, and have to have an “answer” or “fix” for everything.
The latter are not my most endearing qualities when it comes to mommy-ing an 8 week old.
Wouldn’t being a mom be so much easier if babies were easier to control? If they came with a personalized instruction manual like a board game? I really struggled with that when I had Isaiah (who was a high maintenance baby…especially when it came to sleep) and was determined to not let it bother me this time around. I wanted to be the laid back mom. The mom who goes with the flow, doesn’t stress out over sleeping through the night or a baby that won’t nap, isn’t tempted to run to books, other people, or the internet for “answers”, and finds it easy to live in the moment rather than worrying about down the road. Babies are constantly changing, right? Everything’s a phase, right? They’re all different and don’t always go by the book, right? I know all of that…but knowing IS only half the battle.
I do feel much more relaxed, grateful, and confident in mothering this baby. But I’m still so tempted to want to be able to control my circumstances. Toby fell into his own schedule pretty early on and was extremely predictable and consistent for the first month or more when it came to sleep stuff. He was sleeping beautifully at night and was taking good naps. I loved that I knew what to expect and could easily plan my day and get things done. Now that he’s extremely social and nosey, he has more of a love-hate relationship with sleep. We began to wonder if he was turning into (gulp) his brother? He’s still ridiculously happy and almost always content (which I am careful not to take for granted), but he some times fights sleep now (guess we’re just too darn exciting) and takes shorter naps. And though he slept great last night, last week he threw us for some loops and was waking a lot at night and was really restless. Add to that the fact that he still has belly issues from time to time and his sunny disposition some times turns grim when he’s laying in bed.
And the control that I long for slipped through my fingers. So then I begin the analyzing and strategizing and search for perfection…
Does his belly hurt? What did I eat?
Why is he doing that? I’ll check google for an answer.
If he gets off of his schedule, how can I tweak it to get him back on?
There’s got to be something I’m doing wrong. What is it?!
I’ve realized how much of an idol that desire for control can be for my heart. If I’m not careful, it can consume my thoughts, determine my mood, distract me from what really matters, and cause unneeded anxiety.
“Can anyone of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?
…So do not worry saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”
Matthew 6:27, 31-34
I’ve got to stop running after a win and simply enjoying playing the game…trusting that what I need will be provided…and there’s absolutely no value in worrying about it.
I’ve also realized that after only have one child for the past 3 1/2 years, I had certain expectations about what I could still get done or still be involved in while being the mom of both a preschooler and a new baby. I have a planner and a list of things to do or get done every day. I don’t want to just play the game; far too often, in my pride, I want to be the winner. The mom that can juggle everything. The mom that has it all together. Perhaps there will be a season for that later…but that sure ain’t me right now! 😉
Though there’s still value in my to-do list, I’ve decided to not pay much attention to it and make a to-do list that won’t vary from day to day. A list of the 4 primary things I want and need to get done in a day…and let everything else be secondary.
1. Nurture and care for the two little boys entrusted to my care with PATIENCE.
2. Spend quality time with the Lord.
3. Go for a run to start my day if possible or do some kind of exercise to take care of my body and refresh my mind before the chaos starts.
4. Be consistent in serving and loving my husband, saving enough emotional and physical energy for focused time with him.
My husband desires my attention and affection more than a spotless house. I can’t neglect discipling and training my own children just so I can do it for someone else’s. I will only feel more tired if I’m not taking care of my body. And I have NO chance of becoming a Godly “success” of a wife or mother or friend or Youth Pastor’s wife if I’m not connecting with the Lord.
Realistically there will be days when I will still fail at at least one of things on my new list. But I want my attitude to be this…
Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.
If I’m able to accomplish more of the secondary things on my list, I want to simply see it as grace…and another opportunity to serve Jesus.
Yesterday morning at church, an elderly woman stopped to admire Toby. She took his hand and said to me, “I had 5 children. I wish I would have enjoyed them more.”
I wish I would have enjoyed them more.
Those words haunted me all day. I don’t want to get to the end of the game and have to say that. Unlike Isaiah’s version of “Candy Land”, this game doesn’t allow me any do-overs and I want to make the most of the journey I’m on.
This game of life is fun and a blessing…but it’s not a game of luck and it has serious consequences if I don’t play it well. Guess I need to continually make sure I let my definition of a “good” game be defined by the One I’m playing the game for…and no one else.
Though it’s certainly not fun, I’m thankful for circumstances that force me to open my hands, breath deeply, and leave the control of the game to the One I’m serving…
And just maybe I’ll be ready to play Yahtzee again…some day.