**Warning: If you are someone who is made uncomfortable when people share the ugly details of a truly human life, you might not like this series of posts. Also, because I know no one wants to read a super long blog, I’m going to break down this topic into parts. Spilling out all of my guts at one time is too much for any person to handle. You’re welcome. 😏**
It wasn’t always this way. The way my life is now, the joy that I have, the peace that I know. This contentment. It’s taken 42 years, some seriously deep valleys, countless prayers, oceans of tears, many mistakes, bunches of scars, the companionship of many, and the persistence of a God who loves me better than I deserve.
At certain moments in my life as a mother, if you had asked me if I would do it all again, I would have told you “no.” Not a popular (or socially acceptable) response. But it was true. I loved my children- deeply and fully. I was just overwhelmed by the amount of work it was, how endless the hours seemed, and quite frankly by my certainty that I was definitely going to screw them up. The weight of it was crushing.
I felt like every choice I made was a “make them or break them” decision. What if I only serve one vegetable instead of two for dinner? Am I talking to them enough, singing to them enough, touching them enough? Did we read an ample amount today? Am I speaking into their lives as I should?
I was so focused on the work of it, the “getting it right,” that it wasn’t always easy for me to find the joy of it. It was a job I took very seriously (after all, these were PEOPLE I was helping mold- a task that shouldn’t be taken lightly), and it was one that had no weekends, holidays, breaks or vacations. There was no annual review to check my progress and there was no raise for a job well done. I was tired and felt inadequate and was pretty sure I was probably going to end up producing a rooftop shooter and a pole dancer.
So, no, I wouldn’t recommend parenthood and, if given the choice, I wouldn’t do it again. The world deserved better, my husband deserved better and these kids definitely deserved better. I wasn’t enough.
But, thank goodness, things can change. People can stop seeing everything through the filter of “me.” We can learn to ask for help, can recognize that doing our best is the best we can do, and learn that not everything matters all that much. So what if dinner was a meat, a bread, and ONE vegetable? I was remembering to feed them, and we had the resources to do so. It was a win!!
When I finally accepted (through the advice of great friends, the benefit of medication, and a closer walk with God) that perfection was neither expected and clearly not possible, things began to shift a bit. The best that this broken human could do was love on and raise broken humans that tried to be kind and recognized that their brokenness could only be made whole in Christ. I was trying to take on the job of God. Not on purpose, but because that’s what I thought I was supposed to do. I was trying to be all things for them. A job that, as much as I tried, as much as I wanted to, was not even possible.
So, I taught them to laugh. I tried teaching them that walking close to God is the best way to walk. I was honest about my flaws. I stopped pretending I had all the answers, and I stopped being disappointed in myself when I didn’t have them. I modeled for them what it looked like to mess up and to apologize and ask for forgiveness. I spent more time being authentically who I was, and I retired my self-awarded super hero cape.
True, it didn’t hurt that they were now big enough to wipe their own behinds, tie their own shoes and formulate complete and complex sentences, but with the weight of my over exaggerated duties gone, we were free. I could look up from “the work of them” to watch them. I could enjoy them. Who they were was no longer going to be solely determined by my raising of them (as if I had that much power- the arrogance). I could breathe and so could they. It was a thing of beauty.
Ask me today if I’d do this parenting thing all over again, and I can give you a genuine 100% YES!! I’ll say that it’s the second hardest job I’ve ever had (being a spouse is first), and it has broken my heart and brought me more joy than anything I could have ever imagined. Watching little people become bigger people navigating the world, it’s a pretty amazing show. I’m grateful for my front row seat. I’m glad to be a mom. But,
… it wasn’t always this way.