I'm a terrible parent.
No, no, before you try and come to my defense, let me just tell it to you straight. I am.
But being a terrible parent is such a large topic, I think it's important to break it down for you.
Where to start… wait a second… I think I just heard Owen drop something in the toilet…
…no worries. He was just licking the toilet bowl. Perrrrrfect. Now where were we?
Oh ya. I was talking about being a bad parent.
Reasons Why I'm a Bad Parent:
Reason #1 Why I Feel Like A Bad Parent: I'm selfish.
Georgia, please quit interrupting me. I'm trying to get this done.
Stuart, can you change the diaper? I'm obviously quite busy on Pinterest at the moment…
Owen, I need you to keep taking your morning naps. Don't you know that it's my gotta-do-stuff-so-I-can-feel-better-about-my-accomplishments time? I neeeeeed it.
There is no defense. I am a selfish human being. I savor my time spent working on the blog, baking in the kitchen, or planning the spring garden. And when I become focused or fixated on these projects, I tend to get particularly selfish about my time and exactly how I'd like to spend it. Poopy diapers? Broken plates? Missing socks? Ain't nobody got time for that. Don't these kids know I'm on MY schedule?
Reason #2 Why I Feel Like A Bad Parent: I'm short-tempered.
If I could grasp my husband's temperament and somehow implant it into my body via some form of Frankenstein science, I would totally do it. Praise God that I was given a level-headed, cool-under-pressure man. Because I'm anything but. And when you've redressed your daughter for the fifteenth time before eight in the morning, filled so many sippy cups with milk your head could explode, cleaned far too many floating turds out of the bathtub, and brought the dog in just so he could lick the spilt applesauce up off the floor (hey man, one less chore for me) you may understand where I'm coming from. Children. Require. PATIENCE. And lots, and lots, and lots, and lots, and lots of it. Because they're not all rainbows and sunshine, my friends. They test you. And tear you. And manipulate you. And break you down.
Don't believe me? You must not have children.
Unfortunately, in this world, we all have our struggles. Patience is mine. And when Georgia is screaming over the broken crayon (that she purposefully broke) that she can't find (while she's holding it in her hand), I'll admit – sometimes, my emotions get the better of me.
Reason #3 Why I Feel Like A Bad Parent: I'm short on grace. For my children, my husband, and myself.
Anyone else out there quick to throw stones at the ones they love?
Why can't you just help me more? Can't you see I need someone to wash the dishes?
Why are they being so difficult?
I'm so horrible at this, why would the Lord even give me children in the first place? I'm just going to mess them up!
Sometimes, I feel alone in these thoughts. But I know that I'm not. Giving others grace, as well as giving ourselves grace, is a difficult thing to do. And when one is in the trenches of the little years it's even more difficult. I'm so quick to expect things out of my children that I'm not even able to do myself (am I not still selfish? lazy? disobedient to my Father?). We all are in need of grace and so desperately long to receive it – from the Lord and from others – and yet, we are so slow to dish it out to the ones we love. Instead, we expect them to earn it by acting right, treating us well, and doing what we wish them to do.
Oh ye of little faith.
When my husband was at his school the other day, he was approached by a reader of the blog (whom I don't know, personally). She said to him “your wife is like Superwoman!”. Stuart replied (as I would have wished him to) with a kind “thank you, but she would be upset to know you thought of her that way”.
Hear my, dear readers: I am not superwoman. Just because I make cheese and raise chickens does not make me the coolest person on the planet. It doesn't even make me the coolest person in this room (and the only other one in here with me right now is my dog). If you could see the ins and outs of my daily life, you would see that it's monotonous, difficult, frustrating, challenging, and messy. I loose my temper towards my children and have to ask for their forgivesness all the time. I burn supper. I loose bills on my desk. I pick pieces of crayon of my baby's nose. I clean up dog throw up off the floor. I slip on the snow going down to the chicken coop and dump a bucket of water all over myself.
And somedays, I feel like a really horrible parent.
Yes, fear not, there is a but. And a big one.
Not a big butt. Just a big BUT…
But God does not leave me in the trenches, covered in poo, soured milk, and baby drool, alone. He doesn't give me disobedient children and then throw me to the wolves. He doesn't give me frustrating circumstances without giving me the tools to work through them. Because somewhere between the tantrums and the pile of dirty diapers, there's a glimmer of hope in my children. There's a “yes ma'am” or a smile in obedience that brings me hope.
Even when I don't have grace or patience for my children, my King does. He sees them, in their filth and frustration, and loves them. He sees ME, in my filth and frustration, and loves ME. Even though I “feel” like a bad parent because of my selfishness, my short-temper, and my shortness of grace, I'm not. Because the Lord promises that He loves my children as much as He loves me. When the cirumstances in life are too much to bear, the Lord bears them with me. And if the entire purpose of parenthood is to bring me to my knees in utter dependence on the Lord… well… then I've officially “arrived”.
Isn't that what the Lord hopes for? That we learn how to love others and extend them grace? That we come to recognize our dependence on him? That we actually LIVE the gospel each day in our homes by recognizing our sinfulness and our need for forgiveness and a Savior?
I'm going to be straight: left on my own, I'm a sinner. And not that great of a parent. See reasons #1, #2, and #3 above.
But PRAISE GOD I'm not left on my own. The Lord equips me for the service He has called me to!
I'm forgiven and I get to pass that joy of forgiveness onto my children. I'm a sinner and I can recognize that in my actions as well as in my children. I'm also a child of God and I get to celebrate in that mercy for myself, as well as for my children. As our Pastor reminds us: The Lord can draw straight lines with crooked sticks. And Praise God for that, too! Because I can trust that despite my feelings and despite my crookedness, the Lord can (and will!) accomplish his great purpose in my children, in our family, and in the world.
I'm free in Christ (of reasons #1, #2, and #3 above). And I'm forgiven! And I'm loved! And that knowledge, belief, and understanding is the only thing that makes me a GOOD parent.
And that joy is worth sharing.