I’ve been at this parenting gig for about two years now. Rory and I were married in 2015, and we welcomed our first kiddos into our home in May 2018. What an adventure that was! We didn’t know what we didn’t know. It turns out that parenting is much more complicated and layered than we ever realized. Not only that, but when parenting children from hard places, there are so many other factors to consider and different methods that need to be employed in order to guard the hearts of the little ones that God has entrusted to you.
Rory was my first and only boyfriend, and when we began to grow closer, I realized just how exposing our relationship was. I could no longer (attempt to) hide my flaws because there was someone there who could see everything, whether I liked it or not. So it goes with parenting. Like it or not, my kids see it all — the good, the bad, and the ugly.
I so badly want them to see a mom who is akin to Mother Teresa, someone who is gentle and kind and always has all of the answers. The trouble is, I don’t even know much about Mother Teresa except what I’ve seen in pictures and oft quoted sayings. I remember a friend of mine sharing about how she read some of Mother Teresa’s now published journal entries. In these journal entries, the world renowned saint shared about her struggles with sin, pride, and selfishness. These confessions were from a woman who was known for her great selflessness and kindness to the least of these. If Mother Teresa struggled with selfishness, then you better believe I do, too.
You see, in my mind, I have a perfect ideal of the mama I should be. And I want my kids and my husband to see that version of me. I don’t want to struggle. I don’t want to need the grace of God to be my sufficiency. I want Him to just show me what to do and then be able to do it all by myself so that He will be proud of me. But this is the exact opposite of the Gospel.
The Gospel of Jesus Christ exposes our need and brings it to a Savior who delights in helping us. The Gospel says that I am poor in spirit and cannot do anything that is worth doing on my own. The Gospel says that I need the love of Christ in order to bring any kind of hope and healing to anyone else. The Gospel reminds me of my sin and gives me cause for rejoicing by showing me that I have a great Savior who paid my debt and now lives to intercede for me, allowing me to bring Him my weakness each day.
A few days ago, I was in a funk. I was frustrated because I was dealing with some emotions of annoyance within my parenting, which caused me to feel ashamed. In my head, I knew that I should not be upset with a child for needing help and guidance. That is what my job as a parent is — to provide that help and guidance and be a safe place where growth can happen. Nevertheless, I found myself annoyed because the execution of said job wasn’t coming naturally. I was complaining to Rory, and I said, “I’m sorry. I know I shouldn’t act like this.” To which he said, “You know, you’re allowed to be human.”
Immediately, tears sprang to my eyes. Human. I am a human being. I am not a human doing. God created me to be with Him. He created me to be with others. Those relationships — vertical and horizontal — are to bring glory to Him. In order to be with Him and with others, I have to allow Him to sift through me and show me how to walk with Him each and every day. He doesn’t expect me to get it right the first time, or the tenth time. He just wants my heart. He wants me to be honest with Him and walk in repentance, acknowledging when I sin against Him and asking Him for the strength to walk in the other direction. But He is not demanding or unkind. He is generous and loving.
In order to be a present mama, I have to drop the act of perfectionism. My kids know that I don’t have it all together. And they are ok with that. I know that they don’t have it all together. And I can be ok with that, too. Because God never asked me (or my kids) to have it all together. He just asked me to follow Him and make disciples. And the work of making disciples in this home He’s given me just may be the most important work I ever do.
I cannot give away what I do not have. In order to love my kiddos well, I must first understand the love of the Father. Hard as it may be, I am learning that in order to be a good parent, I must fist sit at the feet of my perfect Heavenly Father. He is all that I need, and He won’t lead me astray. He is right beside me, giving me the strength for each day