I want to take a moment to encourage all of you moms who are raising a strong-willed child (or two). This is MY Xander. She is my first child…the daughter I desperately hoped for.
Everything about her beginnings was easy. Easy pregnancy. Easy labor - though, long. EASY baby – she slept 5 hours straight the first night we brought her home.
And then, she became a toddler.
What a toddler!
Intense. Passionate. One friend described her, “Xander just LOVES life.”
Busy. Active. Hyper. Within 5 seconds of her 3-year-old appointment, her doctor asked me if I’d ever considered ADHD (but that whole story is for another day). Let’s just say I have a number of living confirmations that she was more than a handful.
I was in over my head. I was afraid. I didn’t know what I was doing. I was frustrated...often...and I DID NOT KNOW HOW TO RAISE THIS CHILD!
But I was starting to learn about God. I had the wisdom to pray for WISDOM. I had the heart to pray over her life. I had the humility to realize I was NOT going to be the perfect mom. (I once spanked her fiercely for not taking a nap. It was not my finest moment.) So, I started to pray, “God, I know I am going to make mistakes. Please fill the gaps for me. Where I fail, be present to correct. Where I cause hurt, be present to heal. Help me to do right by this precious little girl.”
He has answered (and continues to answer) those prayers.
This year, Xander turned twelve. We have continued to have some tough moments. Attitudes and sloppiness, typical weaknesses of a typical preteen kid. We have struggled over her many times in these transitional years. I know we will continue to strive, as we train her into adulthood. But let me pause to reflect and share some of the moments in which I have seen her shine, because we have chosen to struggle and pray over her.
MY daughter was at a sleepover with a group of girls, when things took a very negative turn. One dear friend started verbally attacking another dear friend (who happened to overhear) in a very common jr- high-girl scenario. I was proud when I later heard that Xander refused to engage in the gossip, but I was even more proud to hear that she was able to handle it in a way that did not demean the gossiper. She simply said, “Well, that’s what best friends are for. You take the good with the bad.”
Then, she and another friend pursued the wounded heart until she was able to allow them in to pray over her.
Oh, that I would have demonstrated such maturity at such a young age!
It dawned on me one day, when Xander was still pretty young, that such passionate, active, and intelligent people are those who become the leaders of a generation. I have taken it upon myself to share this thought with young mother’s I have encountered in a struggle with a strong-willed child. I say, “You know, I tell all of my friends in this situation, ‘Take hope. You are raising a future leader.’ “
Little did I know how literally true was my own advice.
I have never seen kids flock to another like children do to Xander. She is a natural leader. How many times do you see a random group of children playing an organized game of “Red Light Green Light” in the McDonald’s play place? Or when is the last time you went to the park and saw kids from 6 different family groups…strangers before this moment…all playing hide and seek together – NOT ONE excluded?!
I told her yesterday, “Really. I am completely baffled that I had a part in creating someone so amazingly gifted and talented as you.” Leadership is just one of those gifts. I could go on (as any mother, I’m sure), but the point is to say this: It has not been easy. Rarely a moment, besides her pregnancy and infancy, has been “easy.” But, oh, the fruit. The fruit of our labors, which we are just beginning to see, is more marvelously satisfying than I could ever feign to describe.
Hang in there, you, Mother! Fight for that strong-willed child, because you, too, SHALL see the fruits of your labor.
And I promise you that I will continue to fight alongside you, as I continue to raise my precious Xander (and her equally strong-willed, miniature, male replica!).
Your little “homie”