Tonight my husband gave me one of the sweetest gifts. He complimented me on my role as a mom (initiated by a discipline decision I made and stuck with amid the cries of unfairness). They were words I needed to hear because it had been kind of a long day, partially due to some children and partially due to me. Anyway, I am blessed by his words of affirmation.
To me, being a mom is the hardest job in the world. There are days that going and facing 20 kindergarten students is easier than being at home. It isn't that I don't love my "job". I do. But to me motherhood is the ultimate responsibility. I think about it ALL of the time. Almost anything I do throughout the day has a purpose. Yet, to me (the control freak), one of the hardest parts about being a mom is that ultimately, my kids will decide what kind of people to be. I can do (or try to do) all of the "right things" and yet they may take very different paths than what I hope for them. I am guessing God must shake His head and laugh at me...here He gave Paradise (Garden of Eden) and what did His children do?
I am a bit of a perfectionist, though I have "eased" up in that part of my life in recent years...more for my sanity than anything. I want to do my "jobs" well. And parenthood to me is THE ultimate job. Yet no other role makes me feel like more of a failure on a daily basis. Some of the feelings of failure come from me. "Why did I react that way? Why did I raise my voice? Why didn't I see what she needed from me?" And some come from the kids (not necessarily them but their actions...), like "Why is he acting like that? How did I go wrong? Is she always going to have that trait?"
I am thankful I have a mom to talk to. She is my "parenting expert" (Just look at how I turned out :) and can be counted on for good, fair wisdom when facing parenting dilemmas. I am fortunate to have friends and family to share my struggles with. It is comforting to talk to my sister and find out that our kids are doing some of the same things. You would think with four kids, I would feel like more of an "expert" in this area, but they are all so different (yet not one of them is a quiet, reserved type...wouldn't you think the odds would be in my favor on that one?). I am grateful for co-workers, many of them "experienced parents", who can give me the view from the other side of the road I am trying to cross. I am blessed even with Facebook. When I post about a trying time or make a joke about the day, I have encouraging words (most of the time) in moments. Same for my blog friends.
Still, there are some days I worry about my blood pressure. I am a worrier and as a mom, worry is a constant companion. I tend to analyze every behavior. And I want to respond in the right way for each of them.
I do believe the Bible is my guide for life. And it has some good advice and commands for parents. I am always quoting for my husband, "Fathers, do not exasperate your children..." But it is a guideline for life. I have yet to find the verses that tell me when to take a pacifier away or how to handle "screen time" with my kids. I need a manual.
Ultimately, I realize I can only do my best (realizing and truly holding that belief in your heart are too totally different things) and basically hope for the best. I can pray. I can be consistent. I can be firm. I can be loving. I can meet physical needs. I can encourage. However, in the end, they will choose for themselves who to be. And none of the worrying in the world will change that. That would be the "free will" we learn about.
Some days I wonder if I should spend as much energy and thought on it. We all know people who had really rough childhoods come out on top...wonderful citizens and successful in life. And we also know that sometimes parents with only the best intentions who invested all of their time in their children end up on their knees in tears watching their children choose poorly whether it be crime, drugs, or even just getting caught up in the world. When I think about those times, it is tempting to wonder, "Why bother?"
But God has given me this role. And I take to heart the command to do all unto Him. And that includes parenting. So for now I will stay the course, even though the course can be a bit daunting at times. I will continue to commit myself to guiding my children. And maybe, just maybe, I will learn to "let go and Let God" in times of worry. (Don't laugh...it could happen) And of course I will pray. I will pray for my kids and the life He has planned for them. And I will pray to give thanks for the toughest job I have ever been "assigned to"...hopefully out of this role, I will become more the child of the King I was designed to be as I lean on Him in my weaknesses (which I am finding are many). Sounds good anyway. :)