Sometimes, my kids can be annoying.

Did that make you gasp? Are you appalled that I could be so cold and callused toward my own flesh and blood? Let’s be real for a minute. I love my children more than life itself and I love nothing more than spending time with them, loving on them, and making them smile. But sometimes, just sometimes, they annoy me. And that’s okay! I’m human, after all.

My Kids

My baby just turned one and she literally has the face of a cherub. Her round little cheeks are the perfect pinchable size and one even has the cutest dimple you’ve ever seen. She’s adorable and so sweet—and it borders on ridiculous. But recently, my husband and I started to worry that maybe she was coming down with a cold or teething because she was not being her normal easy-going self. She was screaming and whining and crying for no apparent reason. But when I saw her throw her little body on the floor and scream when she wasn’t getting her way, I realized my sweet, easy-going, angelic baby was becoming a toddler. Yes, we’re about to re-enter the tantrum-throwing toddler days and I find myself whispering serenity now more often than I’d like to admit.

My older daughter is 3-1/2 and she’s my wild one. I always said that from the time she was an infant, you never had to guess how she was feeling. If we were at Target and she was having a good time, she squealed the entire trip. But if she was upset about anything (ANYTHING), you’d know it—and so did the whole neighborhood. She’s always been extremely determined, which is probably one of her best and worst qualities. The day after she learned to crawl, I remember how frustrated she was because she couldn’t stand and walk. But with this remarkable independence and ambitious spirit came stubbornness like I had never seen! I’ve had to learn about both patience and consistency when raising her, and sometimes those qualities are hard to channel when you’re having a battle of the wills with a head-strong two- or three-year old.

My Expectations

Before becoming a parent, I imagined what it would be like once I had children. I wasn’t completely naïve. I knew that there would be hard days and sleepless nights. I knew that I would have to discipline and it wouldn’t always be easy. And I knew that there would be unexpected difficulties along the way. But probably the most important thing I’ve had to learn with my on-the-job training is patience. After all, when the Bible talks about love, the first quality it mentions is patience–“Love is patient. Love is kind…” (1 Corinthians 13:4). I know this verse is often quoted during weddings, but it applies to any and all love. And I think it’s no coincidence that the Bible mentions patience first above all other qualities. So if we show patience with our children, isn’t that possibly the greatest expression of love we can give them?

My Reality

But what does that mean to show patience with your children? Does it mean wait around for 20 minutes while your kid insists on putting their own shoes on, fastening their own seatbelt, or buttoning their own shirt? That’s not exactly the kind of patience I’m talking about (although these kinds of things can be good exercises in patience, too!). The kind of compassion and patience I’m talking about is taking the time to listen to your kids. I mean, really listen to them. Life is hectic and chaotic at times. And sometimes kids are annoying (yes, I said it again). But those are the moments when we should stop and take the time to slow it down and let your child have their own voice to tell you what they need or want. It’s easy to love on your kids when they’re being lovable. But when they’re acting like rabid raccoons, it can be harder to show that compassion and love. I know I have a lot to learn since my kids are still very young, but I pray that I learn more with each passing day. And on the days when I’m ready to rip my hair out because I can’t listen to another scream, another whine, or another “I want Mommy to do it!” I pray that I remember how patient God has been with me over the years and that I project some of that same patience towards my girls.