All I can hear is everything they don’t like. We sit down to the lunch table and my two children let me know their opinion of everything I have set before them. The meal that I have worked hard to prepare. The preparations that I have worked hard to provide. The job that I work at and the school that I went through and loans I’m still paying off and suddenly this is all about me.
I can take my son saying, “I don’t like this yogurt,” to a personal level. Somehow him not liking yogurt transforms into him not liking me. What is that about???
I have to laugh. This is not about me, and my sweet boy is allowed to not like yogurt. He just is.
Parenting is a pride-swallowing saga that we never fully tell our children about. Pride-swallowing is hard, especially in a world that lifts high the woman who has it all together. A Christian culture that holds parents responsible for their children’s behavior, both good and bad. A community that prays for mothers, but does not help them.
My journey seems different. I swallow hard.
We focus on the power of a praying mother and the love of a mother and how to raise Godly children. I think those things are good, but they are not the only thing. They are not the thing.
There are so few verses in the Bible about parenting that I am left to conclude that weren’t meant to all do it one way. While this may seem obvious, when mothers have their standards set on a woman who has obedient children, a clean house, home baked goods, and stellar fashion all the time, it can be a little shocking. It was for me.
The ideal is the goddess of the norm. We worship her. We long for her. We live or die by her rules, and ultimately friends, we die.
I had to get off the internet and drop the illusion that I could ever be like “her.” It was driving me mad. It was my false idol, the woman I was trying to breathe life into and begging God to bless. This was not God’s best for me, and I learned, boy did I learn, a thing or two.
1. My kids don’t know that mother I want to be. They know me. They know me and love me and want more. The moments when I let them in, they come closer. When I look them in the eyes and engage, they do too.
2. I have to say I’m sorry when I am sorry. My children don’t know or understand my good intentions. They shouldn’t be expected to operate on an adult level, but saying ‘I’m sorry’ is a very elementary thing.
3. I am a model. They are watching and learning all the time. That is sobering.
4. I don’t want to parent children, who grow up to be perfect and conform to what “right behavior” looks like at that time in our society. I want more than that. I want my children to grow up to be themselves. I want them to discover who they are, who God created them to be, and go be it.
5. One day, when my parenting days are over and they are grown and we are friends, I want them to choose me, not be obligated to me. To think that they would care for me because I am their mother is not enough for me. I want them to have a deep, honest relationship with me and choose to continue in it.
I think the times when I don’t humble myself with my children are when I fail most. The moments I’m trying to live up to this unattainable mother figure that we have cultivated into desirable are the times I do a disservice to my children and myself.
When my children challenge who I think I should be, I should thank them. My children liking everything I give them to eat is a far inferior goal to them knowing me. And there is a lesson in that. A teachable moment. Jesus is in there somewhere, and I hope to lead my children to Him.
Because friends, it’s about Him.