I’m accepting now that my children will need therapy as adults. I’m really okay with that.
Whatever expectations I once had of parenthood have slowly melted into a puddle like Frosty the Snowman on a warm day. So, I’m putting on my rubber boots and jumping in some puddles!
I think it wise to begin 2018 accepting that this year will have more questions than I have answers, more problems than I have solutions, and more crises than I have tears. I am accepting now that my children will do stupid things that I never could anticipate, and I will respond like a crazy woman more than once.
And you know what? The earth will keep turning and I will still love my children as much as I do as I type these words today, or maybe even more.
Am I promoting flippant parenting? No.
I used to have some seriously unrealistic expectations (read more HERE) of myself as a mother. I carried the weight of shaping those little boogers I birthed completely on my shoulders, and I beat myself up with every screw-up, believing for sure that I had ruined their yet-lived lives. Forever.
Truth. I will make mistakes that will affect my children. All of my good intentions, hard work, and therapy of my own will not change the fact that I am flawed. I can love them to the moon and back, but here on this earth I will fail them, hurt them, and disappoint them at some point. Or many points.
Truth. My children’s behavior, bad choices, and huge fails are not necessarily because I screwed up along the way. My daughter didn’t sneak out of the house because of how we raised her. My son didn’t stick a Christmas tree bulb in the electrical socket (at age 12) because he had not been taught about the dangers of electrocution. They’re just stupid sometimes.
Truth. God is bigger than my mistakes. He’s bigger than yours too. I have this picture in my mind of parenting as building a brick wall. During a hurricane. Blindfolded. With one hand. Though I love my children and have their best interest at heart, though I seek wisdom and I’m following the Lord, there are places in the wall where I didn’t put enough mortar, possibly weakening the wall.
Here comes the best part…God fills in the gaps! His handiwork is so much better than mine; he’s the one responsible for overseeing the job. And he is the master brick layer, his work is lasting. It’s on his strong shoulders.
I used to set crazy goals each year of all the things I would do better as a mom, pretty much all the ways I wouldn’t screw up again. At year’s end, I would be so discouraged and defeated because I looked back at my year as a mother, judging my success through the wrong filter. Perfection.
What if we set a goal for failure this year? Not a goal to fail as a mom, but a goal for how to have peace in the midst of failure as a mom. Failure sounds so awful, but it only means we made a mistake.
We can have peace knowing that our children are in the hands of Jesus even when we make mistakes. And we will make mistakes. We will fail along the journey.
The grace of God is so deep that when we fall, it covers us. When we rise up, covered with that grace, we can learn from our fall. Falling, or failing is an opportunity to grow in our parenting. (Poor first born children. Guinea pigs, every one.)
I tell my children when they realize that I have messed up (which happens often with six teenagers), that none of them came with their own instruction manual; we are figuring it out as we go. We may get it right with one, but then assume that works with the next. Wrong. I also tell them, “good luck to you when you have kids!”
Back to that goal. Goals are great, but now I write smarter ones (more on GOALS) than I used to when I was pursuing perfection. I have written several for the new year- goals for writing, health, and ministry. After all, if you aim at nothing, you will hit it, right? Failing to plan means planning to fail.
So what about a goal for our inevitable parenting screw-ups? How about these?
- When I make mistakes this year as a mom (since there’s a 100% chance I will), I will not believe the lie that I have ruined my child’s life.
- When I make mistakes in parenting, I will simply apologize to my child and let it go.
- I will set aside $100 for my child’s first counseling session. (She must pay for the rest.)
- I will trust God that His Word is true, that HE “will finish what He started” in my child, (Philippians 1:6) because I am not the Savior or the Holy Spirit.
- I will pursue wisdom in parenting, not perfection, as I make mistakes.
Sister mamas, life is about love and pain. Our children will experience both from our mothering. They just will. We learn and we forgive and we keep moving forward. We entrust our children to Jesus and we love them as best we can. And we forgive ourselves.
Feel free to refer to this list of mom fails (some laughable, some not, some mine, some not) including, but not limited to…
- yelling until your throat hurts
- forgetting to pick them up at carpool
- forgetting to pay for his yearbook
- feeding them popcorn for dinner
- forgetting the Tooth Fairy money
- making your kid go mountain biking not realizing they have walking pneumonia
- shutting the recliner on your crawling baby
- forgetting your child at church
- showing up for your child’s dentist appointment a day late
- forgetting your child at church again
- falsely accusing your teenager of smoking pot
- accidentally slamming your daughter’s finger in the door
- shaming a child for her mistakes
- telling your son he’s fine, but x-rays show one week later his collar bone is broken
- giving your son a black eye with the potty seat while trying to help him go pee
- telling your daughter while standing in the ocean, “Oh, there’s a pretty pink shell. Grab it!”, not knowing it was a jellyfish
- telling your daughter who was stung by a jellyfish that peeing on it makes it feel better (not true)
- forgetting the Tooth Fairy money AGAIN
- forgetting your OTHER child at church
- letting one son pee in a bottle in the car on a long trip, not noticing when the other son drank it
- forgetting your child’s best friend’s birthday party
- thinking your son would never look at porn on his phone
- comparing your daughter to her older sister
- assuming he will make the same mistake as last time
- going to the wrong school for the cross country race
- Being the worst Tooth Fairy ever and just telling your kid, “go get a dollar outta my purse.”
Whether our mistakes are ones we can laugh at later or ones that grip us with regret, none are too big for God’s grace or his healing power. So should we just parent our children carelessly? Of course not. Can we parent them perfectly? Absolutely not.
Can we parent them purposefully? Yes! Will God move and work in spite of us? I’m counting on it!
So let those perfect parenting expectations melt away and go puddle jumping! This year will also be full of AMAZING days, beautiful moments, and great choices.
Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. Philippians 1:6
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:9
For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. Romans 3:23