After my first child I called my mom and said, “ok how did you do this?”
When my second child was born I called my mom crying and said, “no seriously how did you do this??”
She comforted me, told me I’d survive, and to push on. That’s pretty much all you can do some days. The fact that I grew up with three brothers didn’t mean much as a kid, it was my normal. I never looked at my mom in awe and said, wow I can’t believe you have managed four little lives so well. As a kid you know your normal and are blissfully unaware of the actual reality of adulthood, I always thought it consisted of bossing others around and eating lots of candy. My brothers and I told my parents once we thought they had so many of us so that they had someone to do all the chores. I think their exact response was, “HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH.”
Something magical happens when you become a parent though; you get this new found perspective known as empathy. All the sudden it’s really impressive that you had a childhood filled with love and that you’re mom managed to keep her sanity while raising three boys… and me. I have often wondered how my mom did it so well because my brothers and I have all said if we could give our kids a portion of the childhood we had we would consider the grade on our parent report card to be a big fat A+ (which would be impressive since I’ve never managed to ace anything in my life… including gym).
Recently I asked my mom after a particularly stressful day how she didn’t lose her temper at us daily. Again she laughed, “I did.. a lot.” I couldn’t comprehend it because my memories involve love, laughter, trips, more laughter, and a lot of family dinners. Isn’t it amazing though how love really does cover a multitude of sins?
My parents had a hard marriage, hard finances, hard illnesses, in fact they had a hard everything but they loved us all so much we didn’t feel it. They shielded us from the realities of their world by pouring enough love into our tiny ones. I didn’t know until I graduated from college the real heartache my parents had endured to make our childhoods so incredibly wonderful. They chose us over themselves, they worked hard to provide, and they sought the lord for wisdom.
I was searching for the words to describe how this could happen when I realized it was grace. God gives us so much grace in raising our kids. I am often so concerned that I am screwing my kids up. I should be more patient, I should do more crafts, I should turn the TV off more, etc, etc, etc, when I realized that I devote most of my energy to making sure my kids have a childhood worth remembering. Grace covers the rest. Our worry often blinds us to the really amazing things that happen under our roofs every day. Like when my daughter tells me she helped a kid who got pushed in class, or my son lisps out I love you when I put him down, or a million other incredible things that happen because we love them enough to make an impact.
I think sometimes we need less rules and more grace, sometimes we need to expect less and love more, sometimes we need to get to the end of day and thank God that he fills in the gaps in our parenting. The task of parenting is so daunting that my prayer has become, Lord just convict me when I’m doing it wrong… and he does. The truth is adulthood is hard, seasons suck sometimes, illness happens, conflict happens, and life isn’t nearly as beautiful as I thought it was when I was five and we will fail our kids. We will yell when we should comfort, we will discipline when we should let go, we will screw up but his grace is sufficient for our children’s hearts just as much as it is for our own grown up hearts. Praise him for that.