May 24, 2020 08:00am
Biggest Understatement of all Time: Parenting is Hard

My kids are out of control.  Before coronavirus, we had such a nice routine. Might I take a moment to brag?  They were so well trained and in the habit of taking care of themselves each morning, I should probably have worn a mother-of-the-year badge.  I mean, we even had a song set to the theme tune of “Danielle Tiger’s Neighborhood” to help drill the plan into their precious little heads, “Get dressed, eat breakfast, brush teeth, pack your lunch, put on your shoes, grab your bag and off . . . to . . . school.”  

I so wish you could hear it.  Was every day perfect?  No.  Predictable?  Yes.

But now, everything is out of whack and every day I feel like we are starting over.  

Please, tell me someone else can relate?

Oh, forty something days ago, I was on a mothering roll.  Determined to conquer quarantine, my first order of business was to develop a new routine, complete with homeschooling, chores, Bible study and play time.  We did fantastic — for about two and a half weeks. (Somehow, I feel that half week is important to note.)  

Then, well, I just sort of gave up.  We soared through Easter and it was finished. In fact, at this very moment it is 9:35 a.m. and my oldest two are still sleeping. Face palm. They’ve worn me down. They’ve decided this IS in fact “summer” vacation and they have things to do, better things than the ones on my list. 

Their growing attitude and dance with freedom has caused a bit of . . . tension, especially between our oldest son and myself.  He’s twelve.  Apparently, he has all kinds of plans plus justifications for those plans. Every. Single. Day.  

Last week we had a bit of a verbal spat over the blessed “screen time”.  Most parents of pre-teens know this argument well: Parent demands less time.  Child demands, whines and bargains for more.  

After days of unsuccessful and exhausting negotiations, which had led to me feeling like I was on trial and being convicted by judge, jury and executioner, I finally had a breakthrough.

And this is where I’d like to take a detour.

Parenting is tough.  And that’s probably the understatement of the century.  Despite Amazon pages full of books that I’m sure could help, there just never seems to be the immediate “just say this” or “just do that” idea at exactly the right time.  In the heat of day-to-day moments, I don’t have the time — or the presence of mind — to consult someone else. 

Truly, effective answers are harder and harder to come by the older and more independent my children get. They are smart and more regularly they are out-smarting me.  If I’ve learned one thing about parenting twelve years and three kids later, it is that just when I think I’ve really “found what works” — things change.  

It seems God is not too keen on letting me get comfortable. Don’t get me wrong, He has given me the basic things: teach, train, discipline, love. I understand. I try.  But, frankly, there are not a ton of black-and-white, specific-enough-for-me instructions, even in the Bible, on how to handle all the challenges that arise.  Like . . . oh, I don’t know . . . how to parent during a global pandemic where our whole lives are turned a bit upside down for an unknown period of time.  

This season is bringing me to my knees. 

And there, I know I’m battling for my kid’s hearts.  When Dad isn’t home and “because I said so” and “because the Bible says for you to obey your parents” aren’t getting desired results anymore, things get stressful.  Emotions escalate.

I worry I really am losing control.  

And perhaps that’s exactly the point.  

Ultimately, I found myself doing what I had somehow unintentionally moved away from: asking for wisdom. By God’s grace, I’ve been studying the book of James in the Bible. There is SO MUCH that applies to parenting, but the verse that jumped off the page is the one that says, 

“If any of you lacks wisdom (ummm, picture me with both hands raised) let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him” (James 1:5).

Hello?  Why didn’t I think of that before?  Seems rather straightforward doesn’t it?  Duh. I need help!  Who do I think I am?!  Parenting has moved beyond me.  I don’t have it in me to navigate these uncharted waters alone and that realization does not stress me more, it sets me free.

So, after some raw confession time with Jesus, I humbly did just that.  I asked.

Less than 24 hours later, it came to me: Let the twelve year old do the research.  Let him speak. Let him express and explain and seek to understand before you jump all over him to be understood. Be quick to hear and slow to speak and slow to anger.  Thank you, Brother James.  

It was delightful to watch him Google his little heart out. Fast forward and he admitted that I, his mother, was right. He didn’t need more time on screens. In fact, he was feeling sorry for his friends whose brains will be underdeveloped because their mothers are too nice. HA!  

We had a wonderful conversation. I’m seeing the bright, smart, kind and well-intentioned young man he is becoming.  I’m learning how good he is at critical thinking, problem solving, debating and planning. I’m seeing the potential God has placed in him to be a mighty warrior prince for the kingdom.  

All because God gives wisdom.  

Amazing how the Word of God always comes through!  My children aren’t perfect.  I’m not either. But we are making progress together and learning as we go.  Today might be another day of WILD, but that’s okay.  That’s exactly where God wants me.  

Will you allow God to use this season to make a difference in your life?  

What’s out of control for you? What’s gone wild?  Whatever you’re giving up on, however your emotions are betraying you, take it to God. Ask. Don’t doubt.  And watch what God will do.

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