Friday, August 30, 2013

All Is Grace

"I fear our modern day Christian writers are creating a generation of parents who are scared to death that they're not parenting the right way."  -Brooke from the MOB Society

The above quote is absolutely true but also it's bigger than that; fear and guilt in mothering definitely aren't restricted to Christianity.  I think our generation second-guesses, researches, and questions things more than our parents or grandparents did.  Then, there's the oppressing implications of living in the Pinterest/Facebook/Blog-happy age.  Instead of simply getting advice from our mother and her mother about child-rearing, the whole world is roaring in your ear trying to convince you their practice is superior and how, if you're not careful, you're really going to screw that kid up.  They holler in your ear: Detach yourself from your kids!  Attach yourself!  Send them to public school! Homeschool them!  Private school! Montessori- school!  Then, YOU feel schooled with exhaustion...all from looking at a website.

Not long after, the fear of judgment sets in because You Didn't Choose The Right Thing, or you feel led to do something else and those Ever Wonderful Blog Moms/Friends/People-in-General are (you think) ridiculing you because you aren't doing it right.

Whether they are or aren't, you just "feel" these people are making assumptions about you.  But the longer I'm a mother, the more I realize that, no matter what way you choose to discipline, feed, or educate your children- they're still going to be imperfect, sinful, unwise little things- some of this might be your fault but most of it won't.

We live in a fallen world, end of story.

I think every mother eventually reaches this understanding at some point.  After I had my first child, I thought I had knew everything about mothering because I Read All the Things and I Babysat Other Kids and now, I Pushed Out a Child.  Ha.  Then he hit two.  Lord.  Then three. Help me, Jesus.  Then FOUR.  OH, the fours.  Then I had another one.  And another. And then I cried and cried and cried because every little disobedient act committed I took personally.  I wasn't doing it right.  I spanked, then I didn't, then I used time-out, but then I read that was cruel, then I used stern words, but someone said that wasn't wise, then I used kind words, and...they still disobeyed.  Then I read you're supposed to be consistent.

Well, crap.

Then I had this crazy epiphany.  I think I should probably pray for my children.  Every day.  And also for myself.  So I did.  "Lord, I can't do this. I. Need. You. Period.  Please help me.  Help me every single day for the rest of this mothering gig.  Be with my children.  Give me words of grace.  Help me be patient.  Help them grow closer to You every day because I am not capable of forcing them to do anything.  If they come to know You it isn't because of anything I did, it's because You chose them, You called them by name, You sought them and gracefully used me as a vessel somehow.  That's all.  Thank you.  Now donteverleavemealonebecauseIstinkatparenting."

Then...all was calm.  I'm kidding.  But, my heart had a peace I hadn't felt before.  Truly.  It still does.

I've loosened up quite a bit since my first was born.  With the birth of each child and the seasons and months gone by, I've come to better understand grace and humility.  OH humility.  Sometimes I think children exist merely to weaken the proud.  The minute you think you're rocking the parenting gig, your son throws an epic tantrum in the middle of Target because he can't have the Thomas bubble bath and starts screaming, "MOMMY, YOU ARE HURTING ME!!!" while you merely lifted him up with a death grip and put him in the cart.  Now every person is staring at YOU, an apparent child-abuser, not him.  Well played, son.

Oh wait, that doesn't happen to everyone?  My bad.

Sometimes you are just doing the best you can, in your current circumstances, with what you know- it may be different than how others do it, and that's okay.  So, yes, question, research, seek wisdom from seasoned mothers, and follow your parenting convictions but remember perfection in behavior (yours or your child's) is not possible.  It never will be.  Rest assured you/your kids will mess up often, but grace is ever-present.  Give them grace.  Receive His grace.  Rest in it.

Realize this and you become a more chill, I-got-this parent.  A parent who simply loves her kids, imperfections and all- and love covers a multitude of sins.  Oh, does it ever.  Like poop all over the bedroom wall sins (middle son), and peeing outside the library sins (eldest son), and not sleeping through the night consistently because he loves me and wants to eat all. the. time. sins.  Is that a sin?  Gluttony as a five month old?  Nevermind.

And you laugh when the epic-Target-bubble-bath tantrum arises.

Or just run the heck outta the store and drink a glass of wine when you get home.

Happy Mothering (in humility and grace)!  :)

"If you're a mom, what you do is nurture and protect and give grace. You do it all the time, and it's very important, because it reminds us in daily, tangible ways how God nurtures and protects and gives grace. And maybe today the one who really needs that nurturing and protection and grace is you."  -Shauna Niequist

1 comment:

mommy baum said...

love this, thanks abbie! i love your insights and can totally relate in so many ways.....i never thought that parenting was going to teach and humble me so much. ;) you are such an encouragement!