Parenting is hard.
When the kids are little it is hard.
When the kids are big it is even harder.
When you have bigs and littles all at the same time it can feel downright impossible.
This has been a tough week. My kids are all awesome with awesome-sauce, and really it isn’t them, their behavior, or choices, but just me…. Trying to figure out what to say, what not to say, when to step in, when to let them feel the natural consequences of their own choices and when to bail them out of situations that are more than they can handle without some help. And honestly, I never really feel very confident that I am doing the “right thing”.
I’ve heard it said that there are a thousand ways to do this “Mom” thing well. But I fear the opposite is also true… That there are a thousand ways to get it wrong, and I am far more likely to end up on that end of the spectrum. I have my own hang-ups and fears influencing every decision (or non-decision, which is in fact, a decision) that I make. And sometimes I just sit down and hang my head in despair that I am one huge “Mommy Fail”. The second-guessing and the beating-myself-up and the anxiety weigh me down like an anvil tied to my legs and pulling me deeper and deeper into that pit.
Because that’s exactly what it is. A pit. Designed to trip me up, make me fall, keep me down, and render me ineffective and useless.
And when I parent out of fear, I am guaranteed to fall into it.
So today, I determine to not be afraid. Not afraid of making the teenagers angry when I enforce rules, not afraid of how the four-year-old throwing the tantrum makes me look to the other folks in line at Kroger, and not afraid of what the other mommies at church and school think of me and my kids.
I don’t have to be afraid. Because if I am trying to love them well, trying to honor God in my parenting, and trying above all else to be a picture of Jesus’ love to them, then I can’t even mess this up. Grace will fill in the cracks where I am weak. And that same Grace will pick me up when I stumble and teach me how to pick them up when they do. And stumble they will. I am not afraid of that either. What is that really, besides an opportunity to show them God? Isn’t that ultimately our most important job? To give them just a glimpse of that kind of love… That always persevering, never failing, always hoping kind of love… The kind that I can give only because I have received.
I’m not so good at the how-to’s and the what-not-to-do’s. I don’t think it even really matters. All those mommy-rules just make me tired and frustrated anyway. If the one rule is Love, and not Fear, then I have Faith they will turn out just fine. Even with a few detours. I’ve certainly taken a few of those, myself. I want to be the kind of mom they can come home to, even when they are lost. And the kind of mom who gets that they will have to go through some stuff to find their way back sometimes. Is that scary? Heck yeah. But I still choose to say, I am not afraid.