I love being a parent. I don’t always love parenting.
All three of my kids have popped out of whack. The first two have hit a chute and plummeted back two years. All the bonding, all the maturing, all the ability to handle life, gone. The new one is equal parts amazing considering all she’s been through and struggling because of all she’s been through.
They tell you with older child adoption, to expect all different age levels to spring forth out of one child. One child might need all the nurturing of a baby, assert her will like a toddler, and crave the independence of a teenager. I’ve now seen it firsthand. Over and over.
For example, in a matter of fifteen minutes, A– fell on the floor in a toddler-esque tantrum when I asked her to fold her clothes, then shrieked like an infant in the bathtub and begged me to wash her hair for her while she cooed and splashed her hands in the water, then demanded that I let her use my makeup. She’s nine, but really she’s one-through-sixteen.
It’s a roller coaster over here.
I find myself increasingly short-tempered and am starting to wear motherhood like martyrdom. I’m not pleasant.
A friend reminded me that we’re still in the beginning stages of all this, and I needed to hear it. With my sleeves rolled up, up to my elbows in the manure of life, I forget how little time has passed, how much we’ve had to adjust in such a short time.
I squint myopically at my family and groan in frustration, but this morning, out of self-preservation, I’m taking a few moments to pull back and look clearly.
I’m starting the day with a song, a mantra sung loudly with my arms above my head.
Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders
Let me walk upon the waters
Wherever You may call me
Take me deeper than my feet have ever wandered
And my faith will be made stronger
In the presence of my Savior (Oceans/Hillsong UNITED).
I soooo understand how Peter started sinking when he got out of that boat and took his eyes off Jesus. I’m out of the boat, but I’ve been looking at the waves. Today, I’m looking back at my Savior.
I’m choosing joy. I’m giving thanks. I’m actively stretching for a smile. My smiles don’t really feel natural right now. They’re a little forced and don’t quite make it to my eyes, but the more I work the muscles, the more my face is remembering what to do.
I’m hugging my kids; I’m rubbing their backs; I’m cupping their little faces. Even when the force of their displeasure with me and with life feels like a cold slap, I’m reminding myself that I’m the mom. I set the tone. I choose love. I choose love. I choose love. I choose love. I choose love.
It’s a choice, and it’s my choice. It isn’t a feeling that can come and go. It’s decision and it’s action. It’s a hundred little ways I serve my kids from a sliced apple to a bandaid to grace when they’re sleepy and don’t mean what they say.
I’ve been wearing my big girl panties for so long that they’re starting to reek. Today, I’m putting on a fresh pair.
Hey mama, do you need a pep talk, too? Are you in the trenches of motherhood and feel in over your head? Are you struggling for a smile? Do you ever think you’re not good enough, strong enough, enough enough for your kids? Me, too.
I feel CRUSHED. That is my word. Can you relate? CRUSHED.
Do. Not. Lose. Heart.
We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed…Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal (2 Corinthians 4:8-9, 16-18).
Today, we fix our eyes. We fix our eyes. We fix our eyes on eternity, because apparently this slow-as-molasses parenting gig is in fact, not eternity.
I fix my eyes on Jesus, who is beginning to feel more like a concept to me as my faith gets a little squishy. Today, I remember that He’s a man. I’m leaning in, I’m fixing my eyes on the Guy who renews me day by day.
Oh, how I love being a parent. Oh, oh, oh, how I love my kids. Even when they’re turds. Even when I’m a turd. I don’t love all the minutes, but I love the life.
We get to do this. Really? We get to do this parenting. And we get to do it together.
I am for you. I’m rooting for us. We’re going to make it, and not just make it. We’re going to rock it.
image from RainbowArtist on etsy.com