Let me just be blunt. Parenting is honest. I joke that I was a much better parent before I actually had children. That is because I really thought that if I did things a certain way, was a certain kind of mother, my kids would be these beautiful little creatures that brought joy to the world. I will admit that I naively would look at children who were misbehaving or causing problems, and I would think, "Oh, the parents must not be doing something quite right..."
I don't believe in karma, but if I did...well, it bites.
Sorry. I shouldn't have said that. And I still could erase it but I won't. I am too tired to erase it. And I meant it. I still shouldn't have said it quite like that.
Anyway, I apparently forgot a couple of factors.
I am not perfect. I want so much to be perfect, to a fault really. But I am so not. And my attempts at being a perfect parent have failed big time. I rarely make lunches and even more rarely put in sweet notes of love and adoration. Lauren does that for me sometimes in Maria's lunchbox (who despises getting them :). I haven't made a Halloween costume in years. I don't have big birthday parties for my kids. I yell sometimes and sometimes say the wrong things. And when met with some challenges, I sometimes feel like I am grasping at straws as to what to do, how to handle them.
The other factor? These children. They have their own personalities. What works for one doesn't work for another. Ultimately, they make their own decisions.
And really, how could I not know that? After all, at the beginning of time, human time, God created this amazing earth. And He brought forth some amazing creatures...animals, plants, etc. Finally, he created (out of dust) a man and then brought forth a woman to complete the picture. And they had this incredible garden to live in. They had no jobs they were required to do. There was no war, no sickness, no death. No sadness, no hunger, no fatigue. It was a perfect place. And God was and is the perfect Father. Yet even with all of this in front of them, what did that man and woman do? They made their own decision to eat of the ONE tree that God told them not to touch. And then life was never the same.
If two people, grown ups no less, made such poor decision even with a perfect heavenly Father, what on earth will my children do with a very imperfect mother?
We also have our own circumstances that may differ from the usual household. We have two children who are not only dealing with our expectations in their life but also dealing with shadows of their past. Any adopted child, no matter who they are, how old they were when they came home, and how much they are loved, struggles with feelings of loss and pain. Some more than others.
All that to say, parenting is hard. Sometimes I do all of the things I think I should do, but ultimately my kids make their own decisions. Sometimes I am proud of their decisions, other times I am left shaking my head in wonder and dismay.
So what do I do? I cry. I pout. I question every word, everything I have done or said. I compare and wonder why other families look so more normal than ours does. I share my worries with friends and seek any solutions I can.
This morning I was thinking about one child who has been a bit more challenging recently. I was going through all of the things I have just mentioned, wondering why, what can I do to fix things, how can I be such a failure as a parent...
And God stopped me.
Um, what, God? I do pray. Almost every night before they go to sleep, I pray with the kids and specifically pray for the challenges we face.
No, Reba. Not with them. Pray for them.
Uh, God, I do that too. Maybe not every day. Maybe just when I am at the point of desperation. But I do.
Reba...Reba...(Do you think God shakes His head when He speaks to us like I do when I am dealing with my children?). Pray for them. Earnestly. Not in passing. Not when the whim hits. Be intentional. Truly pray. And don't just pray...listen. Let Me work. Trust that I am in control.
So that is my goal. To pray. Often and unceasingly. Specifically for each child. And to listen. To truly hear what He says as He guides me through this crazy thing called life.
Hold me to it, dear friend(s).