Ya'll, parenting is kind of, you know, hard. There I said it. And I don't mean it in the sarcastic and funny "meme about mom's drinking wine out of sippy cups to get by" kind of way, but genuinely difficult.
I spent the morning at a parent/teachers conference. (You read that right, teacherS....with an "S". Because there is nothing more intimidating than a meeting with a teacher...except a meeting with 2 teachers.) There were many feelings after that meeting, but one surprising one was relief. Sometimes it's nice to know that everyone is on the same page and just wants what's best for the kids. All the other feelings were made better by an immediate trip to Starbucks. (Because Priorities.)
I then went to Kroger to gather all the goodies for my daughter's birthday weekend. I walked the aisles struggling with the resentment of buying ingredients and making recipe plans to celebrate the one who made it possible for me to meet with 2 teachers earlier today. Don't get me wrong, all of my kids' teachers are quite friendly and very very good at their job, but I have always been a bit nervous around administrators and I strictly avoid confrontation as a rule. Needless to say, I was a bit out of my comfort zone this AM. Thus the bitterness.
So there I am roaming around Kroger dealing with my feelings with ear buds in my ears when I get an encouraging text from a Godly friend. I had sent a text novella to my core group of friends and they had all responded with wonderful mom encouragement. (side note: all moms need friends like these.) But this one friend said exactly what I was thinking at that moment....
"This parenting gig leaves little rest for the weary. Sometimes I wish we were back in the toddler/newborn stage."
Isn't that just exactly it? I just started crying right there next to the marshmallows. I really never thought I would long for those sleep deprived, spit up covered days. When they were babies, I dreamed of a time when I would get to sleep 7 hours at night and wake up to an alarm clock instead of a crying infant. I looked forward to taking showers and putting on make-up and jeans that buttoned and going to exciting places like Kroger, Target, and (dream of all dreams) Starbucks all by myself.
I just knew that once I made it past this "just keep everyone alive" stage that I will have made it to the easy part of parenthood. (I can hear my mom laughing all the way from Mississippi right now.) I really never thought about what kind of personalities they would have or how that would play out in the future. Well, maybe I did, but I think I just assumed they would be awesome. (because obviously)
I thought that I would be so great at this parenting thing that they would become perfected little versions of me and Steve. Only our good parts and none of our bad parts. Little people that would light up any room. They would be kind and funny and caring and love God and love people and (even though they constantly fought with each other at home and disobeyed us from time to time) would be model citizens in the world. They would be PERFECT.
How completely naive and unfair of me.
I don't really remember myself in the 5th grade. I mean, I remember 5th grade and my friends and the people around me, but I can't really remember what I was like. I am pretty sure I had an attitude and was (if not already) on my way to being a royal jerk to my mother. (I'm so sorry mom.) I'm pretty sure I tried desperately to fit in by wearing blue eye shadow and getting an extreme Mariah Carey perm (that lasted 5 days until the first time I washed it). But I don't remember what kind of friend I was. Was I a push over or the Regina George of the group? Did I make people feel better or worse about themselves? Was I a motivated student or just barely getting the job done? It's hard to tell, that was so long ago and my memory is fuzzy. (If any you guys knew me back then, feel free to chime in... or maybe not.)
I tried to find pictures of myself in middle school/Jr. High, but I don't seem to have any pictorial evidence of that glorious time. If my memory serves me well, I believe I looked something like this girl in the movie 13 Going on 30 only less adorable and with poofier bangs. (And I would have never been allowed to wear that off the shoulder number.)
Oh wait... actually a little more like this....
Anyway, It's unfair of me to put unrealistic expectations on my kids when I struggled with the same issues growing up (and lets face it. I'm still struggling with some of these. Except for the perm. No one is trying to look like Mariah anymore.) I think as parents (and possibly even more as Christian parents) we expect our children to be perfect, because that is how we have always seen them. We don't want to believe that they, too, have been affected by the sinful world.
It is crazy humbling when they don't live up to our perfectionist expectations and other people are present to witness it. (And then have a conference with you about it.) It's embarrassing. It makes me feel like a parenting failure. I wish they could just obey, for the sake of my reputation. It's the least they could do for the one who changed their diapers, right? I say I love them unconditionally, but deep down I make a selfish list of conditions. Then God shows me those prideful conditions get in the way of love and grace.
/ / / / /
Today I planned to sit down to write about the day Amelia was born. Something I have wanted to write about each of my kids for a while. I want to remember every detail of that special day that I became a mom. But when I sat down, this is what came out instead. I guess this was my own personal little therapy session. If you read every word of this, you should charge me some sort of psychiatrist fee. Of course, I would have to pay you in baked good laced with resentment.
I'm going to go now and make sugar cookies in the shape of a lego head (whatever) because I love my almost 11 year old and she is, in fact, awesome in her own way. I love her for who she is today and who she will become. She's growing and the Lord is working in her life (and in all their lives) in ways that I can not understand. That's scary for me, but I trust that He's got this.
Because I am beginning to realize I DO NOT have this and I am thankful that is okay.
FACEBOOK FROM THE PAST
"You guys stop fighting! Just pretend each other doesn't exist. You are all only children today!" Excellent parenting skills today.