Every day is not a great day. It’s not always a family fun day. It’s a 11am and I am done with the day. The first Saturday after school has started. I have genuinely missed Cavin. I had grand plans in my mind to have a great family day full of fun and quality time together. And I am done. We are back at home and I am in survival mode. Parenting is not for the faint of heart. If I were to be honest, for me, it is the hardest feat in my life (right now, maybe forever). I do not find it easy, and there are some days that I want to escape. I have found a lot of grace in this as I understand myself and so much of why it can be a challenge. BUT, there are days like today…
I began the week teary eyed that Cavin was starting school. He is getting so big. I felt mournful in my heart that the two little ones would be starting preschool and they would be gone in the mornings Tuesday-Friday. I ended the day thanking God for the opportunity to send them to a great preschool, and I realized I was now anxiously awaiting their first day of school next week.
It’s just the way it goes, I get it. Parenting often rubs against all of my weaknesses. It can take festering wounds in my heart, throws salt on them, and increases the heat of the pain. It feeds the anxiety I am always battling and causes clouds to swallow the sun.
On the worst days, in my weakest moments, I want desperately to blame them. If they weren’t so selfish, spoiled, demanding…and the list goes on. Yet, at the back of my mind, rationally I know that they are children. They are innately selfish and demanding - and somewhat innocent. All of the demanding and selfishness that stirs in my own soul, God by his grace prunes and cleans. Through the pruning, Christ in me controls and tempers this demanding nature. Yet, in their little faith journey - they just are not there yet.
More grace, patience, and understanding is called for these little guys.
I KNOW this. Yet, I get exhausted and weary. I become weary with the arguing, the ignoring, and the demanding that what I have given or done is NOT ENOUGH. And it causes deep pain and a mourning for my lack of grace and patience for it. Don’t get me wrong, there are days where the battle within my mind and soul is overcome by grace. I can kiss their sweet cheeks and say gently, your behavior is not okay and it hurts others - let me show you a better way. On other days, however…
Ignoring their behavior is not an option. They WILL know boundaries, standards, and limits. Always. Tempered in grace and gentleness is the goal, yet it does not always come out that way. Why? Because I am human and I get tired. As if I didn’t already feel inadequate to meet their needs - their demanding little nature adds fuel to that fire of insecurity.
I get a little sick and tired of those that say enjoy it while you can, because you will miss these days. It takes grace just to smile and put the comments in their rightful place - down the toilet where they belong. Pardon me for the attitude, but all that does for me is fuel the natural guilt and shame of motherhood when in that infuriating moment with your child - you think I don’t enjoy this now and I won’t miss it later. I will miss those cuddles, kisses, and sweet conversations, the silly jokes, the willingness to be crazy and goofy, the easy delight of simple runs in the park, and more. However, the pain of demandingness and never enough - I will not miss. I will not avoid the pain and weariness I feel simply by telling myself it’s okay because I will miss this stage when they get older.
My sweet children cannot feed the need for peace. They cannot satisfy the depths of my soul or my deepest longings. Therefore, using them to do as such will bring heartache for them and for myself. When surrendered to my heavenly Father, I feel the freedom to acknowledge the pain they unintentionally cause me. I can acknowledge the moments they have broken my heart and my expectations. And then I can run to my Father - the only one who meets the deepest needs of contentment, love, and appreciation. It’s this, I find, that gives me the grace to temper my discipline.
I have a deep gratitude that on days like today when I fail miserably, I can run to my Father and fall on my knees. In my mourning for my failures, in repentance for my lack of control - I find comfort. I receive the promise that He redeems and restores and makes all things new. I feel badly because I know that they don’t always understand the pain and weariness I am experiencing. Some of it is a result of their behavior and other times (a lot of times) it is a result of the battlefield that is my mind or the stress of my exterior world. However, I believe it is still necessary to, with boundaries, explain some of that pain. I truly believe this is part of discipling our children to acknowledge themselves as whole people created by God - body, soul, and spirit. We should be discipling them not just spiritually, but emotionally. And if we never reveal our pain to them - they will never learn to acknowledge or understand their own.
I can vulnerably and transparently explain to my children (and I have many times) that I am so sorry for the way I spoke to them. I can explain the hurt and frustration I felt. From my own examples of failure, I can share that their behavior affects others and that their words have power to harm or build up. I can teach them an appreciation of limits and boundaries.
And sometimes that is enough to provide the deep breath I need to continue and sometimes it eases the anxiety and brings relief. However, sometimes I still feel anxious and broken and exhausted. Like today. And, in these moments, I have to evaluate why. What is happening in my soul, my body, my spirit? I learn something new every time - every episode - every bad day.
I have to recognize my limits. It’s painful when we don’t recognize our limits. When we realize that even in our best efforts we fail, that in our strive to be gracious and God-honoring as parents - we realize we are just imperfect and broken. It becomes simple to love other broken people (children) when we face our own brokenness. Oh what grace we can offer when we acknowledge our own imperfections and we accept the limitations they offer.
That grace we find extends to others and extends to our self. And sometimes we just accept that grace today will mean not locking them in their rooms or just running away. And sometimes that just has to be enough. It will be enough to insist that they will find a way to play on their own. They will work out their own problems - and barring any emergencies and with the exception of food and drink - they will be self-sufficient today. And I will wait as patiently as possible until I can pull away, unplug, and sit broken in the arms of the Father who sees beyond my imperfection and failures. He will tenderly lift my head, and say:”You are not enough, but I am enough through you. Take comfort in my peace and forgiveness, and move onward”.