I was a horrible performer growing up. What I mean is that I didn’t do a great job at being a “good kid.” My parents learned early on that I was a horrible liar and even worse at faking it when I didn’t want to be in certain situations. I told my grandparents friends who owned waffle house that I didn’t want to eat at waffle house because the food was gross (to be fair I was 10 and how was I supposed to know they owned it.. I have since changed my tune). I asked my mom when I found her wedding dress why it looked like something from little house on the prairie. When my parents put Andy Stanley sermons on during road trips when I was a teenager I blared bone thugs through my Walkman (sorry Andy… I listen to all your sermons now). I guess honesty is a good characteristic to people but there is a delicate way to share opinions and I just have never mastered it.
Ben- “babe do you like this shirt”
Me- “no”… moving on
As a parent now I love when my kids perform… I mean behave. I love when briggs smiles at strangers, I love when Claire acts all happy in front of other people, and I love when she says please and thank you. I pat myself on the back and think “I’ve really mastered this parenting thing… I don’t know why people say this is so hard.” (I never say that…. Ever…ever.) Then Claire growls at a target employee, briggs yells at me for a straight hour because he only speaks baby and I don’t know what he wants, and Claire throws a toy at her brother because its Monday. Then I reevaluate my calling, my life, and my decision to not drink during the day (its a joke people).
It’s all small stuff right now though, and I pretty much get a pass at most things because they are toddlers/babies and those words are synonymous with tears and tantrums. But what about when they get bigger and it’s not about the Elsa coloring book it’s about clothes that are too tight, cell phone usage, and God forbid dating. What will I do if like my mom I have to hear others critique my parenting skills because my kids are bad performers?
Today is my mom’s birthday and each year I reflect on the woman and mom she is. Pretty much every year I feel more grateful that she parented and loved me the way she did. This year, as I struggle to remind myself that I am raising two tiny imperfect humans, I am reminded of the first time I realized that my mom had to say she cared more about a relationship with me than what her friends thought of her. She cared more about me experiencing the love of Jesus than she did about what others thought of her parenting skills. I am so glad she chose me over her reputation. I’m so glad she listened to what God said about loving me rather than what others said about how to raise me. I am so glad she didn’t care about her image. I’m so glad she threw it all aside and loved me back to a relationship with God. I’m so glad she was able to grasp that my performance wasn’t tied to her ability to be a good mom.
Pretty much every time I talk to parents they want to know what my parents could have done differently. They want to know what would have “cured” my rebellion. More grounding? Stricter rules? Dad answering the door with a shotgun when guys came over? Sadly I have to inform them I don’t believe anything would have helped me (although the shot gun thing sounds promising), but I know what wouldn’t have helped, my mom thinking of me as an embarrassment. I always knew they loved me, its probably why I came back. Unconditional love is contagious.
So fellow moms, as we struggle down this road called parenting lets surrender to the fact that we cannot control our kids. Lets accept that we will screw up. We will fail. Our kids will be lousy performers. But our love can define us. Our love can change lives especially the little ones down the hall. Lets drop the act, if you see my kids looking all cute and acting just right then you caught me on an off day. We are all lousy performers.
Happy Birthday Mom! Thanks for always being the mom my imperfect heart needed!