loving: hard & free

Toss it up to my naiveté or young idealism that this never dawned on me before having children, but let me just say, parenting is HARD. (Yes, I can hear your laughter mocking me.) When I say this, I’m not whining because I don’t get to sleep in on the weekends any longer; although is it wrong to look forward to the day I get to pounce on my children, shouting “It’s breakfast time!” before the sun comes up? I guess that’s another conversation. Being a parent is hard because we are laying our life down. Always. Not in the child-gets-to-dictate-while-we-smile-and comply sort of way, but in the having to say, show, correct, discuss ALMOST EVERYTHING over and over and over and over and over with patience and hugs and encouraging words, when frankly, at times, I would rather throw myself on the floor, kicking and screaming. Ahem. I’m sorry, were you looking for an adult here? Parenting is hard because our CHILDREN ARE PEOPLE, who have personalities, perspectives, and emotions without the filter of maturity to hold them back. It’s hard because no matter how many books you read feeding you polarized parenting styles, WE have to ultimately decide how to love them and lead them into maturity. Even when your parenting looks different from others. It’s hard because, in the event you have more than one child, each of them will need, listen, respond, learn, love and challenge you differently. And that’s just how it’s suppose to be. It’s hard because everyone has an opinion on how you should parent (even the creepy stranger who wants to rub your belly). And since blogs are indeed mostly about unsolicited opinions, let me say if I were to write a parenting manual, well, it wouldn’t be a manual at all, but it would say something like this: There are few true absolutes in parenting: Be patient, kind, and quick to forgive, be mindful of your humanity and that you too were once a child and carved your name with a rock into your parent’s friend’s car (I’m sorry, who are we talking about here?), give lots of hugs and kisses, give yourself “time-outs” when you’re exasperated/angry, play, pray, ask for help when you (or your spouse) think you need it, and most importantly, if you ever think you’ve got it all figured out as a parent (you know, readily giving un/solicited advice to others without receiving any yourself), then you’d best pull your head out of your a** before you find yourself in a prideful pit of poo.

But, seriously, how can I begin to describe the blessing, laughter, and immeasurable delight I receive as a mother in return for what may appear to onlookers as utter insanity? Well, I just don’t know. But I do know somewhere in this process–in this laying down beneath blankets of legos, dress-up, laundry, meal preparation, potty training, lesson plans, and other miscellaneous clutter–I’m learning more about Jesus, about Love.

(this one’s for you, Tif.)