“Raising kids is part joy and part guerrilla warfare.”
I worry about being a good mom.
Do you? I read somewhere that the concern over whether of not you are good parent signifies that you are indeed a good parent, because you have put thought into it. Apparently bad parents are unconcerned with their bad parenting. I’m not sure. I mean, I think about what Taco Bell does to my insides and it concerns me…. a little bit… and yet tonight after two miles on the treadmill I treated myself to a Mexican pizza and two tacos.
But parenting…. plagues me. It reduces me to tears, keeps me awake at night, and makes me dream of life stranded alone on an island. I am responsible to the entire world for producing two productive citizens that will add something to society.
The story of how I stumbled into motherhood is an Epic. I retell it often for laughs and for testimony. I will whisper it over to my children (when they are old enough) to remind them and myself of God’s great Grace.
Short version: My senior year of college, having been able to legally drink for a whopping 6 months, I ended up pregnant. If that isn’t proof that alcohol is bad for you I don’t know what is. Needless to say, having a baby at twenty-one tilted my world’s axis in a way I felt ill-equipped for.
I took a 14 lb baby to his one month pediatric visit and the Doctor looked him over and said, “I think you were made for this….” I was delusional and believed him. I lived in delirium and looking back Jesus must have packed our tiny apartment with angels. There is no other way we could have survived. Cholic, milk allergy, WIC, a two-week maternity leave…. I think it was best how woefully ignorant I was of what I was in to.
But we made it. And three years later we survived a difficult pregnancy, and Gabriella was her brother’s opposite and was the baby I needed for the time she came.
The past 8 years have been a grace filled adventure and one would think I would have gotten the hang of it. I figured out how to be a decent teacher…. but am I a good mom?
Someone once told me, “You would have made a great Spartan mother.” I don’t think this was a compliment.
I was also told I was raising feral children. I was thinking about this today and it might be true. I mean, feral animals are fiercely independent. Bred from a once domesticated species, they fight and scrape waiting for someone with the bravery to tame them, love them. And they can be tamed; not broken, but bridled. Don’t believe me? Have a conversation with my Dad about me and cats.
Is this not parenting?
Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it. ~Proverbs 22:6
Now, no one wants to admit that their child is behaving badly or that they feel like a parenting failure. Lately, though….
We are in the THICK of BEHAVIOR.
They are not making the best choices when they interact with each other or us. Kids will be kids..… how do we fix this though? Every time Corbin goads his sister or Gabriella hits her brother my heart sinks. How do I ensure that I am raising kind children?
Gabriella should not be a mean girl. She should be kind and smart and witty (in that order.)
Corbin should be not be weak. He should be courageous, kind and smart. (in that order.)
They should belong to Jesus.
And I believe that parenting is hard because while you are the thick of it you are also waiting; and waiting is hard work.
What if I don’t give them enough opportunities?
What if I don’t help them enough on their homework?
What if I bruise their fragile dreams?
What if they make the same mistakes I did? (I don’t want to be a grandma at 42…)
What if they need therapy? (I’m sure they will.)
So, after breaking the polite conversation rules and asking a half a dozen church folk to pray for us I have also been deliberately seeking out Godly council via the Interwebs.
In a tangental turn of events this week I happened upon a post by college friend who does Jesus so much better than I could. I decided to send her some encouragement. As I prayed over what to say to her I found myself telling her to consider the mighty things her children will do for the Kingdom because they have watched her and her husband remain faithful in the trenches of ministry.
And in true Jesus fashion I heard the whisper in my soul. It seems that I hear his voice when I seek to offer truth to others….suddenly as I speak, or write or type …..I hear, “This is for you!”
About a month ago I stumbled upon a video done by Jen Hatmaker on mothering.
Her words have been haunting me.
Her message was to remind
me mothers that if I we stopped worrying about what I we do right, and what I we do wrong, and spend all my our time pointing them to Jesus, He will take care of the rest.
Why don’t I remember this? Oh my goodness it makes so much sense. How much worrying I can release if I just show them Jesus.
And as I have wrestled through this the past few days I have settled in my soul the desire to make sure this is what I do. I will not hide the mess. I will not strive for perfection. I get them to bathe by telling them “No one likes the stinky kid.” I will reward teamwork and compassion with ice cream and marathons of Courage the Cowardly Dog. I will apologize for raising my voice. I let them see me hurt, and angry, and wounded. I will let them watch me fall and wrestle with my own muck as I cling to Jesus with all my might, all in the hope that they might one day do the same.