Sometimes my kids wind up teaching me lessons that leave me smiling and thinking about how great it is to be a mom. But sometimes my kids teach me lessons that make me cry and humble me and have me thanking God for grace. This past Friday was one of the latter situations. My older son was having “a day.” If you’ve been a parent for any length of time, you’ll immediately know what this is, but just in case, I’ll clarify. To have “a day” means that any and everything is a potential trigger for tears, tantrums, or tumult.
On this particular day, it seemed like nothing I said could smooth over my son’s mood. In fact, everything I said or did just seemed to be making things worse. We were at that point in his crying where he was doing the often non-recoverable from hiccup slurping. It was just bad.
I dropped him off at school feeling every bit the world’s worst mom. I kept thinking, “I hope I didn’t say or do something that will really impact his future negatively.” Right after leaving him, it was (ironically) time for a parent prayer gathering that I lead at my children’s school. I went in with glassy eyes and sort of exploded to them about how I felt like I was going to do something to really “mess up” my poor, sweet child. One of the other mom’s there looked at me and said, “You know, I think we take too much credit for the good our kids do, and, in turn, place too much blame on ourselves when we feel they have messed up.”
Whoa. That was kind of a freeing, life-changing thought for me. It’s all too true that I cling to my children’s good behavior as some sort of validation for or result of my great parenting. Meanwhile, it all comes back to control. I fear the things in life that I cannot control, so I cling to those (in this case, the fallacy is my parenting) that I think I do have a level of control over.
So the combo of one of my “controllable” factors suddenly acting out and showing me just how little control I really do have over them (in this case, my inability to fix my son’s “day”), really left me feeling weak and vulnerable.
If you are a parent, take heart! Our kids are not meant to be little beings created for our control that showcase our exceptional skills and parenting decisions. Rather, they are mini individuals who will eventually become full-sized individuals, and, as such, they are often unpredictable. Our best path would be to remember that we are the temporary guardians for these God’s children, and to live accordingly. Release them each day to the Lord and ask for His guidance to help us be the best parents we can be. Then, when they have good days, we can simply thank God. And, in turn, if they have bad days, we can ask God to help us with the care of His children, and trust that He will carry them on His great love and plan for their lives.