I’ve been struggling with parenting lately. Bean is at this age that constantly tests my patience and, if I’m completely honest, I have not exactly passed those tests. I’ve been quick to snap at my kids, quick to anger, quick to discipline. Sometimes those actions are needed, but sometimes I go to them because they are easier than having the patience to parent kindly.
Gosh, that sounds horrible when I write it out.
This Sunday, our minister gave a sermon about individualism. She talked about discovering who God calls us to be and using the gifts we have been given. A lot of the sermon was about looking inside yourself, but the parts of the sermon that spoke to me were the parts about giving our loved ones the space and encouragement to discover who they are as God’s children. She talked about raising children to be not who we want them to be, but who God calls them to be. She talked about kindness and acceptance and patience. All those things that have been missing in my interactions with my kids lately. Sometimes, I love when sermons reach into your heart like that and touch you personally. But this time, it made me squirm a little in my seat. I was embarrassed in front of God. Embarrassed in front of Chris. Embarrassed in front of my children. Because God was pointing at me in that service and saying, “Back off my children, momma.”
I think my heart was open to hearing that message on Sunday because Saturday had been so spectacular. It was the parenting day that I had always wanted – full of places to be and cheering for my kids. Gracie had her first ballet lesson, which was just about the cutest thing I’ve ever seen in my life.
She was about the most un-GRACE-ful kid in the room, bless her little heart. Her little belly stuck out of that pink leotard and she stood on those long, skinny, little legs of hers and looked every inch like a flamingo.
I watched her through the little window in the door (which is why the videos are so blurry), and couldn’t stop smiling.
After her ballet lesson, we scooted on home to meet the rest of the family so that we could head to Bean’s soccer game.
He really loves soccer practice, but he isn’t crazy about game days. I don’t think he likes playing in big herds of kids. He’s fairly popular with his friends, but when given the choice, he always seems to prefer to play in smaller groups or on his own. He gets overwhelmed with large groups or activities, and I think game day is a little intimidating for him.
Chris and I do our best to encourage him out there, but therein lies my parenting dilemma right now. My “encouraging” looks more like “pushing.” Because Bean is naturally a little shier than others, my go-to instinct is to give him a little nudge to get him out there with everyone, but as my patience wears thin these days with factors other than my family, I have noticed that my nudging is getting a little pushier. My tendency towards tough love has drifted more to the tough and less to the love.
Which is why Sunday spoke to me. I adore my children and, most of the time, I’m a pretty good parent. But I have forgotten that these kids are on loan to me. They belong to their Heavenly Father, also. And he has created every hair on their heads, every thought in their heads, every gift in their little hearts to become the people that HE wants them to be. Parenting is much bigger than me, and I have momentarily forgotten what a privilege it is to have been chosen be their mom.
As we sat in church on Sunday and I tried to stealthily cry so no one could see me, I prayed the same prayer over and over again. “Lord, parent through me. Lord, parent through me.” And as we have begun this week, I have continued to go to that prayer over and over and over again. “Lord, parent through me.” When I lose my patience, when I need more kindness, more lovingness in my words, “Lord, parent through me.” And it has reminded me to stop and take a breath, and to remember who my children are and whose my children are.