It’s been a rough stretch in our parenting journey lately, so forgive me if this post doesn’t apply to you or is too mushy. This is a post for me to read on the rough days. I’ve been on a reading kick lately. I’ve found that reading books about life and parenting can really go a long way to keep me focused and intentional.
My latest read ended with a chapter of Q&A’s with the author, and one of her answers struck me in a big way. I’ve been reading it over and over again and trying to let it find a place in my heart and life.
Q: What do you regret doing or not doing when your children were young?
A: I wish that I would have trusted God more and worried less. I regret not being more careful about the voices I listened to. Thinking back now, I should have enjoyed my kids instead of worrying whether I was always doing it right. I definitely wish I had spent more time just loving them and letting them know how much I loved them.
And that’s when I said, “Oh”, and, “Ouch”. Because I like formulas and answers. I like to see the whole picture all at once and not have to have questions and doubts. I want someone to tell me that if I do this certain thing as a parent that I’ll end up with a happy, intelligent, loving child who grows up to do wonderful things and helps old ladies cross the street. But parenting isn’t that way. There are no easy answers and formulas to get it right. I think that there’s a realization when you become a mom that this is the most important thing you’ll ever do. You only thought that other jobs and events in your life mattered, but this? This really matters. Nobody wants to be successful in every other area, but raise awful children. Lincoln is my legacy, and maybe that’s the reason that I spend so many days feeling crushed under the weight of the responsibility. I constantly question my ability to do this job successfully and do everything the “right” way.
Then there are the voices. The voices of every person in your life and all of society trying to tell you what you should be doing and constantly evaluating your progress. There’s nothing like someone asking if you ever actually discipline your child. (Yep. True story) In that moment, you’re not sure whether to scream or punch something, because you know that at least 60% of your day is spent correcting, teaching, disciplining, explaining why it’s not okay to kick the dog when we are angry, why poop belongs in the toilet, why yelling and being mean aren’t permissible in our family. You want to say, “It would be easier to count the minutes in the day where I’m not doing some form of correction and discipline, ya jerk.” When someone makes a comment about your child’s behavior it cuts to the core of who you are, because it’s like them saying that you’re failing at your entire life goal. Usually people’s comments stem from unrealistic expectations of how a normal two-year-old will behave regardless of the amount of time his parents spend teaching him, but it still would be so much easier if all the voices were cheering you on instead of tearing you down. Since that will never be the case, it’s my job to choose the voices I listen to, and ignore everyone who isn’t in my cheerleading section.
Parenting is no joke. It’s easily the most difficult task I’ve ever taken on. But the rewards are sweet and I know that it’s worth the daily struggle. It won’t always be this way. He will grow up and the chaos of toddlerhood won’t always be a part of my routine. This is my reminder to myself and maybe an encouragement to any other mom reading who, like me, wonders if there will come a day when you won’t be embarrassed in public by your toddler who currently acts like a “drunk frat boy on acid.” This is my reminder to myself that it’s okay to trust that God has given me everything I need to accomplish this task. You were made to be a mother. It’s okay to not always get it “right”. Stop worrying. Love more, trust more, pray more. If I had a dollar for every time I’ve had a woman say to me, “Enjoy it. It goes by so quickly. I miss those days,” I’d have enough money for a full time maid. This is my pep talk for myself: Stop missing the sweetness of this season because you are so worried about doing everything right and worried about what people think about your parenting skills and your child. Enjoy the little bit of baby that’s left in your boy, because it’s fading away so quickly. Stop expecting perfection from him and from yourself. He’s two years old. He’s been on this earth two years. He will not obey perfectly at this point in life. Heck, you don’t obey God perfectly, and you’re 29. These are your days. The days that all the mommas with older kids and adult children talk about so longingly now. This is it. Soak it up. You won’t get it right all the time, but he will be okay. One day there will be friends, school, a girlfriend, sports and other things to vie for his time. Enjoy this short window when you are his everything. Spend your time hugging, cuddling, & playing instead of worrying. That’s how you will “get it right”. Love covers a multitude of sins.