I just told my three year old to hush a third time this nap/quiet time. Apparently naps are for the weak and he is of the shouting for amusement age so he’s exempt.
“These are the times that try men’s souls.” (Thomas Paine)
Or mom’s souls.
Yes, i would venture to say this is where my soul is being melted and remelted, refined, and yep, simply tried.
So much screaming. And shouting. And noise. And whining. And shrieking.
And teasing and screaming.
Basically I have the loud kids.
If they are quiet around you. Well..I guess you get to keep your eardrums!
This morning was one or those rough mornings where they did everything childish and I gradually wound myself up to a dull roar. It boiled over in a loud, harsh “shhhhhh” directed at the youngest and, indirectly, the father playing chase all suddenly and loudly and towards me in an echoing hallway.
That moment when you realize you’re a little out of control. Or a lot.
Or you realize it a few hours after the children begin exhibiting their newest talent of playing nicely together and you manage to breathe enough to calm down so your ears no longer feel the pressure of imminent explosion.
What if we got to choose the quirks our kids might have? Those little things they eventually gain control or awareness of but right now are untrained and drive us towards the brink gradually and surely.
What if we could choose the mostly quiet kids, or the ones who mostly slept, or the ones that were mostly always nice, or articulated their needs without whining most of the time?
What if we chose the kids that would be easy for us instead of the ones that brought us loads of joy, but also managed to kill any sense of patience we might feel we should or did have priorly?
What if we got the easy kids and didn’t learn anything in the process?
These little quirks and crazy driving moments are growing us too. Just as they are learning the art of inside voices or controlling their violent impulses, we get to learn how to communicate love with our discipline and control our own less than awesome impulses.
The thing we don’t really get about parenting beforehand is that childbirth isn’t really the hardest part.
Nor are toddlerhood or teenage years.
Or the fact that the game is always changing.
The hardest part is being so blatantly shown our own misguided needs and impulses with a finely delineated, but impossible, list of what we need to change to be the A-plus parents we want to be.
All the time.
That’s the humbling part.
It’s not that we don’t know how to do this parenting gig every step of the way. We have books and the internet and parents for that. And no one expects you to know it all anyway.
The humbling part is that we will never be as fully formed or as perfect as we’d like to be as parents.
We are always growing and always need to be growing. Our kids gain ounces and pounds and grades and social skills and hopefully we will gain patience, and love, and hope, and tact. And all the fruit of the spirit we thought we had down already. Or think we should really have had down by now.
We are always waiting to make the grade so we can finally say: “Now, I’m a good parent.”
But the truth is we won’t ever arrive. And we don’t have to.
Part of helping our kids adapt to real life is showing them a healthy vision of what a grown up is and can be. Are we finally perfect as adults? No. Are we fully formed individuals, perfectly balanced, etc? No. We make mistakes, and letting them see that is more important than the perfect facade I am likely to pursue.
My impulse is to try to learn the patience (but no praying for it! now, don’t be crazy) even though I’m disinclined and uncomfortable. Because that has to be part of the point of raising kids being so hard. It teaches us too. Maybe I’ll learn patience. Oh I will. I can decide that… Righht?
But maybe not..
Maybe I’m supposed to learn grace a little better first or at least along the way. Grace for me, grace for them, grace as a better understanding of why it really doesn’t matter what I do here.
Because God has already shown us true patience and grace. And we don’t get to do anything to earn it.
It won’t make me more holy if I’m more patient.
Jesus was already perfectly patient and that’s the only place I have any claim to holy. And He is where God looks when he’s looking for my holy.
Not to say I won’t try to be more patient, I will and do.
But when I mess up, like I did this morning, I can remind myself of what is true (forgiven, covered, precious) instead of defining myself by what I can’t do (patience) or what I don’t seem to be good at (parenting) in that moment.
Because I don’t get to earn God’s love and should therefore stop trying to.