If you read one parenting book a day, for the next seven years, I firmly believe you would only skim the surface of what’s out there. Methods, schedules, support groups, sleep training… it’s enough to make my head spin.
And for what? I mean, let’s say you read all the books, go to all the classes, and reach the Gold Standard of Parenting. I am actually fairly certain there are quite a few people out there with this mindset…and I can almost guarantee at least a few of them have still raised serial killers, jail birds, and/or certified ass hats. (Okay, I curse too much. That’s fair.) So, is there an award for perfect child rearing? If so, then I’m in. But I am highly suspicious that we are all actually in a game of smoke and mirrors: chasing after highlight reels and snapshots… and missing the life and raising that happens in between.
What does it mean to be a good parents anyway?
Chances are, you don’t remember one specific thing your parents did to raise you right. Because it probably wasn’t one thing. I’m going to go further out on the limb here and say this: it probably wasn’t even when they were TRYING to get it right that they actually did. For instance, when I was eight my parents surprised my brother and me with a trip to Disney World. My excitement was palpable for weeks prior. But I will never forget the first sentence out of my mouth when we arrived at our destination:
This isn’t as good as I imagined it.
What a brat, right? I also couldn’t tell you much about a single birthday party I had growing up (even though I know my parents went ALL OUT every single year).
So, what do I remember? Not the forced. I remember the magic in the mundane. Eating apples in the garage with my Daddy, watching the rain. Memorizing Bible verses while brushing my teeth before school. My grandpa picking up canned goods from my school to sort and deliver to needy families. My mom teaching Sunday school, loving even the wayward teens as her own.
There’s a reason I don’t remember the “parenting wins” of my childhood. Because I think parenting happens somewhere in between the 2am bottles, math homework, first heartbreaks, and last diaper changes. We were given this job of Mom/Dad to bring our natural, innate love to the surface. We were each made in the image of Jesus, so don’t tell me you don’t have what it takes.
Speaking of, allow me to go on a tangent… (per usual). I think I love differently than others. I always have. I don’t naturally think of others first, and I’m constantly scared that I don’t even truly know what love is. I don’t let people get too close. They called me a Social Butterfly in school, because I was part of a lot of friend groups… without really belonging to one in particular. It looked like the way to go, but it left me on the outside looking in most times. A therapist once told me that I actually have a lot of emotions, but I’ve buried them so far down, that not even I can reach them. Its safer that way, I believed. More practical. You can’t be hurt if you don’t have feelings to hurt. It takes the sting out of failure and makes the load of loneliness lighter. But its no way to live. And I never even realized that my feeler was broken,
Let me drive this home by saying that I think we were given the opportunity to raise kids as a glimpse of just how vast and unconditional the love of the Father is for US. That’s the big secret. You just take in as much as you can about who the Heavenly Father is, and how He loves… and then see what comes out. And let me relieve you of the pressures of perfection: it all comes out in the wash. We each miss the target more than we make it. But if you can BE love to your tiny people, the raw kind that changes diapers until fingers are sore and sings lullabies until lungs give out… then you’re doing it, Mama. If you can just help them find magic in the every day… then Jesus has a way of working out the rest. Without your help. After all, He is perfect by definition.