When I was 8 months pregnant, an acquaintance came up me and said, “Is this your first?” I said “Yes!” in a happy voice. With a grin she said, “You just wait!!!!!!!!!”
A few years ago someone asked me how old my daughter was and I said, “15.” She gave me that smirky grin and said… “You just WAIT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”
So here’s the million dollar question: What was I supposed to be waiting for?
The Battle or the Blessing?
When I was pregnant, I anticipated the blessing. I couldn’t wait to have a baby girl of my own. I couldn’t wait to dress her in all the pretty pink dresses hanging in the nursery. I looked forward to hearing her say her first word (which I hoped was “Mama”) and take her first step.
When the acquaintance said, “You just wait!” she was anticipating the battle. She was thinking about the sleepless nights, the crying, and dirty diapers.
It really is all about what you are looking for, and where you direct your attention.
If you are looking for the blessings you will find them. You will see blessings everywhere. It doesn’t mean that life doesn’t have its challenges. A new mother will have sleepless nights, crying babies and plenty of dirty diapers. But the challenges don’t obliterate the blessings. You never lose sight of the blessings.
If you are looking for the battle, you will find it. You see one struggle after another. You complain about it, and before you know it, that’s all you see. But here is the scary thing: when you focus on the battle, it blinds you from seeing the blessings.
I have been a therapist for over 20 years and I know life is not always happy-happy. But here’s what I know. What you focus on affects everything. You constantly are creating stories out of your experience. Let me give you an example.
A few years ago, I came home from my private practice to take my daughter to driver’s education. She had books and papers all over the dining room. I told her we needed to leave in about 5 minutes. I walked into the kitchen to get something to eat. She barked out, “Could you PLEASE be quiet?”
If I had the battle mentality, I would be expecting her to start a fight. I would think, “You are so disrespectful and you are not going to get away with that.” I’d say something like, “Don’t you dare speak to me that way. Drivers Ed is a privilege and I can take it away.” My daughter would fire some verbal arrows back and the battle would be on. I would have one more piece of evidence that parenting is one battle after another.
I won’t lie. A comment like that is irritating, and it’s tempting to lay into her. But there are blessings hidden in the story. My daughter was working really hard on her school work. I didn’t tell her to. She took the initiative. That’s a huge blessing. I drove her to driver’s ed and let her calm down. Afterwards she told me how stressed she was about all the work that was due tomorrow. On her own, she apologized for snapping at me. When we got to the house, she showed me all the work she had done that day.
Look at all those blessings.
- She apologized and owned her stuff.
- She let me know what was going on in her life.
- She showed me all her hard work.
- Both of us felt understood.
I would have missed all of that if I had the Battle Mentality.
There’s going to be drama with your teenager. You can’t avoid that.
But it doesn’t have to obliterate the joy and the blessings.