So, I’m not the mom I expected I would be.
No, I was going to be the cool mom. The one who laughed endlessly, had nerf gun wars all the time, laid in the grass and daydreamed. The one who kept her cool and came up with genius analogies and always used the words, “It’s going to be alright,” before tousling her kids hair.
Turns out I’m not this mom at all.
I could make excuses about tired and work and so. much. to. do. But we all have that, no?
So I won’t. What I will admit is that I get angry. Angry when 14 minutes after cleaning the entire house, there are things – just things, everywhere. Angry when I have to explain (again) the rules of the house and how it’s suppose to shake down. Angry when I say something very clearly and it is completely disregarded.
These things didn’t anger me when my kids were toddlers, or even elementary school age. They were little and I was their teacher and trainer and this is just what being a mom was.
But they’re all big now. Two of them are taller than I am. They (technically) can all follow more than 3 steps of instruction in a row. They’ve known the rules for a long time and yet, most days we end up in chaos with backpacks and shoes and cups of water and dishes everywhere. Most days I look at someone and give them a direct instruction and it doesn’t happen. I am perpetually frustrated and what comes out is snappy. Short. Unkind. Let’s just take yesterday for example…
I was seething.
I couldn’t even look at him I was so mad.
I’m going to hope you get it, this feeling. That as a parent you understand how completely maddening it can be when your kid does something inexcusable. When his actions aren’t anything you’ve ever taught. When his attitude about this situation isn’t responsible enough. When he’s not willing to own the mistake but sluff it off. Make excuses. Blame shift with the best of ’em.
I had to walk away because his words were making it worse. I knew this wasn’t the time to talk. Anything that came out of my mouth at this point would be rant, not talk. I knew this wasn’t the time to work it out. Working it out right now would be me pointing out all of the ways he did wrong, which would work exactly nothing out. I knew this wasn’t the time for any of it.
Instead I gave myself a time out. I sent me to my room.
This was supposed to be my retreat. My place to reason out all the ways that I’m right and he’s wrong. To get to that parental place of, “I’m calm but this is still so much less than awesome and you need to know it!” Basically, to shame, probably place guilt and bring him to the place of sincerely looking at me to apologize, hug me and maybe even shed a tear. That’s what he needed to do. I just needed to find the words to get him there, regardless of what those words were.
Of course, what greeted me instead was a heap of laundry piled atop my bed. 4 loads deep.
I sighed the sigh and felt sorry for myself because first that and now this. I wanted to be the victim.
Huffing and puffing I kneeled beside the bed and grabbed a t-shirt. Fold. Stack. A pair of jeans. Fold. Stack. A sweater and pajama pants. Fold. Stack.
I laughed out loud when I noticed my posture. Really, God? I storm out of the room and you bring me in here and you get me on my knees? Well, played.
I’m not one to fight it. As long as i’m here…
I began to pray. First angry like. God why? God help him. God teach him.
God help him to grow up.
God help him to learn to take more responsibility, to outgrow that cavalier attitude and simply grow up.
God humble him.
The fumes, they lessened just a bit. Isn’t this so often what prayer does? Dismounts you. Takes you off your high horse and places you in a posture of humility. Makes you see that whatever position you were taking in anger is ridiculous before a Holy God? Yeah, he brought me to that place. He brought me there and he didn’t leave me, but rather showed me what exactly I was asking for.
God help him to grown up.
Grow up? Like, what you mean is that you want him to know all the things you want him to know, right now? That’s called being an adult. And adults move away. Out of their mama’s houses. Because they know all of the things and don’t need to be discipled anymore.
Okay, maybe not grow all the way up.
God help him to outgrow that cavalier attitude, to understand the importance of things.
Oh, you mean the attitude that doesn’t take life too seriously? The one that doesn’t ever sweat the small stuff? The one who has the perfect timing to make everyone roll on the ground laughing? The one who glides through life not caring what people think of him because he gets that life’s too short for that and he knows who he was created to be without trying to fit in? That attitude? The one you love about him?
Okay, maybe don’t change that attitude so much.
God humble him.
Do you mean, teach him humility or make him feel shame? Do you mean, help him to see his errors or help him to see that your ways are always right? Do you mean make him grovel? Is that what you want? You do remember how I’ve humbled people before, right? Take away their kingdoms, their life achievements, all manner of pride, and then place them in a field to graze as the animals did. Are you asking me to turn him into a cow? Do you believe he has no regard for me and so I must strip him of all and bring him to a place of utter desperation? Or do you just want him to do things your way?
Okay, so I don’t actually mean strip him of all things. Not that kind of humble.
And that was all I needed. I saw before me that I was trying to make my boy into a human that he isn’t. Maybe one that fit my needs a little better. Stroked my ego a little more. Made me feel really good about my parenting skills.
I saw that this wasn’t really about my boy at all but about me.
I wanted my son to behave like a respectable 34 year old. I wanted him to know how to take ownership, admit wrong, apologize and make it right in ways that I still struggle with at 38.
In short, I was frustrated that he’s not perfect. Frustrated that I haven’t taught him perfection. Cause, y’know, I know all about perfection. *cough, cough*
I’ve found myself in a cycle of grace-less parenting. Of wanting more from my children than they are equipped to give just now and it’s leaving me at my wits end.
I know I can’t change this on my own. I do know that over and over again, God shows me grace undeserving, patience unending, and relentless love. Even when I frustrate him.
I’m asking him to help me see this today and everyday and impart the same to my teens. To look beyond myself, my abilities and even my wants and be the mother – no, the person – He calls me to be.
It’s a good things there’s endless laundry because it seems that being on my knees is exactly where I need to be.