When Raising Firecrackers Burns You Out.

Hands up if you’re raising a firecracker?!


Okay, group hug ….! Because I know you’re tired, exhausted and wondering if anything you are doing is right when it comes to parenting this tiny whirlwind of a child.

Because I sure am … annnnd … this is my second in the line up  – but it still leaves me aghast some days as to how much Trouble (and yes, that is Trouble with a Capital T!) one little three year old can stir up.

Marker drawing on the newly cleaned carpet.
Stolen food from the pantry (mostly sweets, of course).
Breaking out of her bedroom at night and nap times.
Screaming fits, especially when tired.
Stealing sibling’s newest markers and leaving all the lids off. {See above}
Using lip gloss to paint the dresser.
Stubborn “Nos”.
Year long potty training ‘accidents’ (are they REALLY accidents at this stage in the game?!).
Even the dreaded biting of siblings. {How humbling!}
Oh, there’s more but I think you all can relate and are probably nodding your head right now – and if you can’t, well, just don’t go gloating in pride because- I tell you – if you have a few children, there is bound to be a strong willed one in the bunch.


Now, parents, of course, we love our strong willed child. We’d die for them, give them our last chocolate (at least before they stole it from us) and read 100 million bedtime stories to them. But those independant, loud, stubborn, wonderfully determined children really can test our patience and humbly prove just how many flaws are still embedded in our own character.

I’ll never forget (or maybe I will – that would be nice…) the day I had just finished scrubbing more, er,  pooh (yes, I’m sorry – seriously, gross) from the walls and bedding and door and crevices of this particular child’s room after she had decided to literally “make a mess” during her nap time. And this was probably the 345th time this had happened.

I was exhausted, after just having my sixth baby and therefore was tired and the usual-after-baby-weariness … after scouring down the bedroom that had been freshly painted with feces, I had just finished washing all the bedding from this ‘accident’ and was hanging it on the laundry line when a friend drove up … all oiled and relaxed from their day at the spa.

Yes, the spa, ladies.

She gingerly walked across our gravel driveway, not wanting to mess up her freshly painting toenails and explained she was just dropping by to say hi.

What a humbling, frustrating breaking moment – to be feeling so disgusting and worn out, failing as a parent, in comparison to the recharged, relaxed spa-visiting friend.  I don’t think I handled that social call very well.

Yes, raising these incredible strong willed children can truly wear you down.

Especially when you are trying to homeschool. Let’s face it. It’s just harder to school with them, around them  – if they’re not involved, they get into trouble or hurt someone or steal someone’s school books or raid the fridge, spilling the milk in the process.{how I found her after ‘napping’ – yes, it was just as hard as you can imagine to scrub this off of the culprit…
and yes, it was the night before church,
so you can imagine what her legs looked like her in Sunday dress}

 But this parenting thing … it means there is more than just bleaching soiled walls and using olive oil to scrub off eye-liner staining your toddler’s skin. We, mothers, are called to this. Parenting is not all cookies and milk, snuggly bedtime stories and cozy summer campfires singing boy scout songs. It’s falling before God, the One who we are working for, and begging for yet another dose of loving patience and a grateful heart in the midst of it all. It’s realizing you cannot do it alone – that we can only do this mothering job with the strength of the One who assigned us this calling in the first place. I’m not enough, my human nature is impatient and frustrated more often than I care to admit … there’s no human way to get through parenting one or three or seven children without God’s sweet grace, a spirit of tenderness and the ultimate vision that we are raising little Warriors for God. Not just humans. Not just voting-tax-paying-upright citizens. I’m raising a little girl who will one day use her fierceness, Lord willing, to win souls for Jesus, to be a shining light in a dark world.


The interruption of my already scheduled day by a fiesty preschooler is supposed to be my day. I don’t need to start panicking that we are off schedule and running out of time because that is what God has scheduled into my day. That’s what I’m here for – it’s not an interruption, it IS all part of what I’m called to take care of. My best laid plans are not what God had intended. I may see a well oiled homeschool day, flowing with ease and wonder but my Heavenly Father may have another lesson for me to learn grace, mercy and patience …


It’s not easy, it’s certainly a daily challenge that can leave me breathlessly asking the One Higher to give me strength … but it is a calling that I aim to take seriously. Other than God, no one loves our children like we do – open-armed, with our whole heart, kinda love.

And so as we homeschooling and non-homeschooling mothers start our school year together, let us remember that God  has entrusted *US* to raise these children of His with love, discipline and patience- yes, even the firecracker ones that will always keep you on your tired, un-manicured toes.


September 18, 2015 - 1:14 am

Tawnia Oh how I needed to read this post!! My 3 year old “middle child” Scarlett is definitely my firecracker! She is the most stubborn, strong-willed, needy child I have ever met. She has the brightest smile though (if you can get her to stop whining) and she is hilarious with her silly stories and songs. The same qualities that make her difficult are the ones I would not change because they make her who she is (though please remind me of this the next time she cuts a chunk out of her hair or kicks her sisters!). I just hope the same qualities of stubbornness, drive and persistence will one day serve her well! In the meantime she is is my crazy little blonde spirited wonder ! <3

September 16, 2015 - 2:31 pm

Courtney I can totally relate to this today – my wonderfully strong willed little guy just dumped three full jugs of laundry detergent into my washing machine. Thank you for yet another wonderful post 🙂

September 11, 2015 - 3:14 pm

kristina Yes, I have two of these little firecrackers (my second and my fourth) and they certainly can wear you out faster than the more mild-mannered children. But they can sometimes make you laugh harder, too! Your perspective is inspiring and encouraging, as always. 🙂

September 10, 2015 - 2:54 pm

Claire I love and relate to the honesty and humour in your post Gillian. Good reminder that no matter what age or how many little people we are lucky enough to care for we all have the moments of being overwhelmed that you just wonderfully described. Thanks for this! xo

September 8, 2015 - 10:39 pm

veronika goisova One of my favourite posts of yours truly:)Made me smile and yes my middle is like this,she just can’t help herself many many times every day,and does stuff thats she is not supposed to do… Love he rot pieces and hope for more and stronger patience to be given!)

September 8, 2015 - 1:10 pm

Sandra Great big hugs to you Gillian! I hear you loud and clear. Hang in there. I’d like to say it gets easier, but even now my almost 16 year old ‘firecracker’ loves nothing better than a good argument (no joke, he’s told us so and is even debating studying to be a lawyer!). Whew! One book that I’d highly recommend is “Journey of a Strong Willed Child” by Kendra Smiley. She is a Christian author and I saw her speak on the topic a few years back. The book is written by both herself and her strong willed son. I have read and reread this book as I’ve raised my ‘firecracker’. The best pieces of advice she has given me?
1) Choose your battles carefully (they will exhaust you if you pick them all!) and whatever ones you choose, you MUST win
2) Find an encourager (or two or three) for your child who is outside of your immediate family. Someone who loves and adores them for who they are. Not always easy to find in a world where patience for ‘firecrackers’ can be limited. It’s been very helpful for my kiddo! Cheers!

September 7, 2015 - 6:19 pm

Jen Heemskerk bwahahaha! I can’t stop laughing at this series of photos. I can so relate to this post though, there always seems to be one firecracker in each family to keep us on our toes. The good Lord gave me 2 of them! =D I remember watching the Christian film “Mom’s Night Out” and seeing how the mother in that movie had a child that drew on the walls of her home, and I was like: “What mother lets her kid even do that?” The very next morning, I literally found Evelyn’s name, in her own glorious printing, etched down the walls of my hallway. Not joke! 😉 It was certainly humbling and exhausting- I eventually just framed her signature as I could NOT scrub it off! Then I laughed, and cried, and laughed some more. God has a great sense of humour when he gives us these little firecrackers! Great post!