Parenting was really hard for me today. In fact, parenting is hard for me most days. There are aspects of parenting that are hard for all of us. Can we all agree to take a deep breath and admit, together, that parenting is hard work?
The time of day that I am currently struggling with most as a parent is bath. Like many families, we often sandwich bath in between dinner and bedtime — not the most effortless hours of my daily itinerary. I suspect I’m not alone in my challenges with this time of day. My three children are early risers, and I still have a preschooler who is home before lunchtime and a 2-year-old who is home with me all day. By 6 p.m., I’ve already been parenting for twelve hours! Is there any job that is glorious after a cool twelve hours?
So let me tell you what my parenting can look like as we enter our apartment bathroom — a tiny room with amazing acoustics and no fresh air. Most of the time, I can look the other way when they throw down over who is going to pee first. (I have two boys, so that is a lot of pee all over the … everywhere.) Sometimes, I can patiently divert the tantrum over who sits nearest the faucet. Once in a while, I can even handle myself gracefully when my middle child unwelcomingly dumps water over his little sister’s head. But when the water spills over the side of the tub, that’s the one — the thing that makes my blood boil! It’s stupid, I know, but it’s the truth. I’m thinking about one of them slipping on wet tile; the expense of replacing tiles that are buckling from years of groundhog day; and all of the extra towel laundry from cleaning it up.
I mean to say, “Sweetheart, please keep the water in the tub.” But instead … I’m scary. I excuse myself upstairs to rock my littlest one — to take a “break.” When I emerge, they are playing [hiding?] in a fort. I kneel down and apologize. I say something like, “Mommy is sorry. I lost my patience. I was feeling really frustrated. You were fighting with each other. You weren’t listening to me. But Mommy should have been able to control her temper …”
That’s when I’m interrupted by my 4-year-old. (Please excuse this shameless plug for Grace Kids, because I’m pretty certain it wasn’t me or my husband who taught him this next lesson.) He says, excitedly, “Mommy, that’s good. That’s good because you showed self-control!” Huh?? Exhale. God’s grace.
That moment when we realize, we are NOT the perfect parent. But we are learning. God gives us the grace that whatever happens today is okay — and the hope that tomorrow can be better! I’m not a perfect parent, but I am a better parent than I was a year ago.
Pastor Chris reminded us of something during service last Sunday that resonated with me: “God didn’t make us to be parents; He made us to be children.” I’ve spent some time praying about that wisdom this week, and I am choosing to let go of the lie that parenting should come instinctively, effortlessly or consistently. Instead, I am focusing on the truth that parenting is an opportunity to learn and grow. Learning to parent well requires the same energy as any of the spaces of my life that I commit to growing:
1). A desire to learn
2). The encouragement of a mentor
3). Opportunity to practice
4). The commitment of a community
And that is what Breathing Room provides for parents! I invite you to join a community of people who commit to learning together. It’s a night designed to leave you encouraged, refreshed and connected with other parents.
Let’s stop pressuring ourselves to be perfect. There is only one perfect Father, and He isn’t any one of us. Once we let go of that tension, we may create enough space to catch our breath and discover that we are much better parents than we thought.
Register today for Breathing Room on Thursday, June 15th. Click here.