My boys chip at that block. They chip at it when they don’t obey, make messes, fight, don’t do so great at school, complain, all the negatives. A lot of times it feels like they chip it down to nothingness.
Sometimes they constantly, subtly, use sandpaper. Other times they use an axe and just chop away.
I like to imagine that at the core of that block is an iron heart. And while it may hurt when they whack at it, it can never be chipped. Because it is strong. It may be exposed and vulnerable, but its love is pure and cannot be broken.
In the past 6 years, I have solo-parented a whole lot of Friday night football games with my 3 and 4 boys. During most games, my boys will not sit still. They fight, they cry, complain, beg to go to the concession stand for candy, popcorn, or pickles; they continuously ask to go under the bleachers to play with their friends. I say no. We tough through it, and it is almost always hard. I’m almost always worn completely down after a 3 hour game with them.
This Friday they were good. This Friday they were great. They cheered with the cheerleaders, watched the game, and didn’t complain. This Friday, I had a woman come to me at the end of the game, give me a shoulder pat, and tell me “your boys are all so well behaved.” This Friday, that woman repaired my broken motherhood block.
It feels so good for that wooden block to be repaired. To witness our kids do good. For someone else to acknowledge their good. To be reminded. That is when the block is replaced, renewed, replenished.
We feel the blows when our kids come home from school crying because someone made fun of them. We feel it whenever our child works so hard to understand math, but no matter how hard they try, they just don’t get it. We feel it whenever our son or daughter spends hours practicing for a tryout but doesn’t make the team. We feel it whenever our child is rude and disrespectful towards us.
We feel it.
I wish I could share a perfect recipe that makes it easy. That will keep our wooden blocks from being chipped. But I can’t. Motherhood is hard. Sometimes it seems like we give so much of ourselves and go completely unnoticed. Or the behavior we’re teaching our kids doesn’t stick. Or we’re not appreciated. We spend hours a day cooking and cleaning, loving and raising our children, but they spend all day destroying the house, or fighting with each other and not obeying. In those moments I feel my block just disappearing before my eyes. And it hurts. I feel each whack, each slide of sandpaper.
However, I always find my motherhood block is replaced when I look up during the church sermon and see my 7 year old vigilantly reading his Bible. Or when my 5 year old notices the trash is piling up and offers to take it to the dumpster. Or when their teacher praises them for being great at school that day.
Or when a stranger tells me my kids are well behaved at a football game.
Instead of a recipe for easy, I want to encourage you to notice those good moments and cling to them. But more so, I want to encourage you to be that woman at the football game for someone else. Sometimes our blocks get so chipped that it feels they will never be repaired. It is amazing what some encouragement from a stranger can do for that.
Be that stranger. Build someone else up. Replace that worn down block with your kind words of praise and understanding. You never know, that stranger could feel beaten down to nothingness. And you could have been placed there at that time, at that moment, with the purpose of encouraging that woman and replacing her wooden block that is protecting her heart.
1 Thessalonians 5:11
“Therefore encourage one another and build each other up.”