For some mothers, postnatal depression can last much longer than a few months. This is especially true if they have given birth to a strong-willed child.
Thankfully, my sister Michelle has a personal relationship with Jesus, so never suffered from this. In difficult times, she turned to him instead of Valium and Prozac. However, Christians aren’t exempt from mental health struggles, so the rest of us need to tread carefully when a believer expresses dependency on medication to ease their anxiety and stress. Yes, Jesus is the best cure, but we all are on a separate journey with the difficulties we face.
Here is an excerpt from my latest book, ‘God Loves Children’, entitled, ‘Toddler Years:Tantrums R Us’:
She was barely 18 months old, yet as I entered the living room, the wail sounded like it was coming from the lungs of a burly teenager.
My visit to my sister Michelle was an unexpected one. I had popped round on the off chance that her and her little lassie would be in and I had envisaged them snuggled up together on the sofa, watching a fun cartoon.
Young Isabel, however, was sat on the bare laminate flooring, away from the plush rug, looking like she’d landed there after falling through the ceiling or been part of a magic trick where one suddenly emerges from an odd place.
With legs outstretched in front of her and arms motionless by her side, she faced the open doorway that leads into the kitchen. Inside, her mum was standing with her back to her, silently washing up a pile of dishes.
Michelle’s arms were elbow-deep in a sink of hot, soapy suds, yet her daughter was dressed as if they were about to go out.
The house was very warm, yet Isabel resembled a snowman. A thick, woolly hat was on her head and it was fastened with a strap beneath her chin. A large lilac pom-pom bobbed about on its pinnacle like a balloon tied to the top of a tent. Every time Izzy inhaled deeply in order to exhale an even louder yowl than before, it wobbled precariously from side to side.
She had on a winter coat that was buttoned up to the neck and a scarf draped around it in a knot. Elastic that was threaded through the arm holes were attached to mittens that were hiding her hands. Thick, white tights clung tightly to her chubby legs and her shoes were fastened with shiny buckles.
“Hello Isabel,” I interrupted. “what’s wrong?”
Like an arthritic owl, Izzy slowly turned her head around 180 degrees, and looked up at me. She momentarily went quiet, but her mouth remained wide open as if she had been inflicted with Lockjaw. Stood before her was another adult who most likely would not be the desired accomplice she needed. As I was of no use to her plight, her head swivelled back round to face her mother and the howling resumed at higher pitch.
Stepping forward, I could see a pained expression on her face that indicated she was failing at getting her own way. She blinked hard so that a tear plopped onto her red cheek, but something about her posture and gaze told me that this was more owing to anger than sadness. This wasn’t a lonely moment. This wasn’t an ‘I’m in pain and need a hug!’ scenario. It was a story of, ‘I want it now!’
Her mother, who had not even dared to turn around to greet me, was doing her utmost to ignore her. By the jerky way in which she was handling the wares and the speed at which cutlery was being thrown into the plastic tray, my suspicions were confirmed.
Her firstborn was having a mighty tantrum. Another one. And my poor sis’ was doing her best to ensure that she won this round.
It was also evident that prior to my arrival, they had planned to go for a lovely mother-daughter walk in the crisp air and wintry sunshine. Something had ‘kicked off’ causing the behaviour of this cute, but strong-willed tot to rapidly decline. Michelle had decided that Izzy will have to wait, but my determined niece was having none of it. She wanted her recent misdemeanour to be instantly overlooked so that she could have her treat.
Her mother wanted her to learn that bad attitudes are not to be rewarded with fun.
As Isabel continued with her Oscar-winning performance, I wanted to laugh. For some reason, the naughtiness of other people’s kids is far more amusing than that of one’s own – in fact, if it had been my Sarah acting in this way, I would not have been the slightest bit amused.
I wondered how many times I had hollered at God because he did not do as I had asked. How often had he withheld something from me because I had proved too immature to receive it? Like Izzy, had I refused to accept that there are consequences for bad behaviour? Had I continued to be immature and throw a dreadful tantrum?
For the Lord disciplines and corrects those whom he loves, and he punishes every son whom he receives and welcomes into his heart. (Hebrews 12:6)
I’m sure there have been plenty times when I have spiritually misbehaved. The only thing is, when I do it, I don’t look as cute.
Taken from paperback version of God Loves Children.
Thanks for taking to time to read this, in a world where it is getting harder and harder to sit down with a book without visual distractions overtaking our lives. I wish you a very blessed day.