Friday night was a rough night. My husband was working the night shift (which goes from around 4 p.m. to about 2:30 a.m.) and I had a rough time getting the kids to bed. My oldest child, age eleven, was out with a friend (he had been invited to go with that friend for his birthday to an amusement park). My ten-year-old, who is the second oldest, had been a big help that evening. He had cleaned up the dinner dishes, helped the seven-year-old with her weekly chore of picking up the dog poop in the backyard, had changed the poopy diaper of the two-year-old and helped the four-year-old with going to the bathroom before bed all while I was attending to other children and problems. After the younger kids, ages eight and under, were in bed, I was rewarding the ten-year-old with a turn playing Minecraft on my Kindle Fire and having a bowl of ice cream when the eleven-year-old walked in.
He eagerly began to tell me about his day at the amusement park and then he saw the ice cream and asked for a bowl. Now, I had just given the last of the carton to the ten-year-old, so I explained that his brother had been such a huge help to me that night and was being rewarded for his efforts. This sent the eleven-year-old into a preteen tantrum about how unfair life is and how he never gets anything he wants (hmmm...he just spent the entire day at the amusement park and I had even checked him out of school early to go). He thundered up the stairs, grumbled as he took his shower and grumbled as he went to bed. The ten-year-old finished his treat and turn on the device and went to bed. I then went and took a bath, feeling quite disgruntled.
I sat in the tub, mulling over how things could have gone differently. This oldest child of mine is a whirlwind of emotion. I'd like to say that it's because of the preteen hormones and all that, but he's always been like this. We have never been ones to give in to whims or bombard our kids with all sorts of unnecessary but fun activities and toys (they have to earn their time on the Kindle Fire, for example, and we only have the one device, the Kindle Fire, which I got for Christmas just this last year). I don't know where this spoiled sense of entitlement comes from. I was frustrated and alone, since Husband was at work. I couldn't even call him to vent because he just doesn't have the kind of job where you can call unless it's really urgent. My mom wasn't answering her phone and it was too late to call most everyone else. I just needed to talk to someone about my frustrations with this child!
Then it hit me. I needed to pray. Heavenly Father is always available when I need someone to talk to and it was just what was needed. As I voiced my frustration and prayed for understanding and the ability to communicate and teach this child, I felt my resentment and anger towards him melt away. Not only was I able to refill my spiritual cup, which I desperately needed, but I was able to have my heart softened toward my child and I felt like I could still reach him, whereas before, I just felt a sense of utter and total failure.
I need to remember this, that my Heavenly Father is always available to listen and often, the best choice in someone to vent my frustrations to and seek an ally. I still talked to my husband when he got home from work around 3 a.m. and told him what had happened and how I handled it. I also told him about my inspiration to pray and he agreed that we should both pray more often for help with our kids. After all, Heavenly Father knows our child better than we do and sometimes just putting it all out there in His hands helps us think through how best to approach a situation.
Prayer is such a beautiful gift that we have, a way to communicate with one who truly knows and loves us.