Maybe I don’t have to parent perfectly

I remember when I thought my parents could do anything, and when my Dad was the strongest and smartest man alive. I remember when my mom’s word was law and how she never stopped moving, always cooking and cleaning. I grew up happy, safe, warm and loved. (That’s me on the far left.)

us as kids

Now, I’m a mom. I have kids that look at me with trusting eyes. They, like I did, believe that money grows on trees, the cupboards will always be full, and that they could never, ever, hurt my feelings.

Oh, the blissful ignorance of youth.

I’m not the strongest or the smartest. I struggle every day to gather the energy to wipe clean the messes, feed their bellies, and to smile through the tears as their sometimes hurtful words pierce my heart.

Just like my parents did.

I battle feelings of guilt, sure that I’m on the cusp of some irreparable mistake that will scar them for life. I work to exhaustion because there is never enough time, energy, or answers. I must lack what they need because, if I’m honest, I’ll admit that I have no idea what their real physical needs are. Not really.

Do they need to be homeschooled? Public schooled? Private schooled? Do they need more time with mom and dad? Less?

Do they need more social times with friends their age? More opportunities to shine outside the family unit?

Do they need firmer boundaries? Fewer boundaries? Consequences? Grace? I don’t know, and neither did my parents.

Maybe that’s okay.

Maybe it’s okay that this mom doesn’t have all the answers. Maybe what I really need is to spend more time praying, more time examining my own heart, actions, and choices. Maybe it’s less about what my kids are (or are not) doing, and more about how I am reacting to it. Maybe, what God is trying to teach me at this moment, is not how to be a better mom to my children, but how to be a more obedient and loving daughter to Him.

Maybe this season isn’t just about shaping them, but it’s also about shaping me.

My parents made mistakes. Their parents made mistakes. I’m going to make mistakes. But I serve a God who can take the ashes of my mistakes and create something beautiful.


*from the archives

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