When Parenting Stinks

9:37 AMHeather

Oh, yes. Tis the season for Father's Day. Just weeks after Mother's Day. When we all revel in the glorious grandeur that is parenting. When we are all Hallmark cards with our love for being a mom or dad and having a mom and dad, and we are just floating in the glow of warm fuzzies.

Except here's the thing.

Sometimes parenting just stinks. Really. Sometimes, I just wanna scream out that I do not want to adult today--you can't make me adult. I need someone more adult to do it for me.

Because it's exhausting, in case you didn't know. The early years of parenting are physically exhausting. DUH says every tired mama who paced the floor with a crying baby last night. NO JOKE says every parent keeping up with a toddler to ensure they don't eat the dog food, fall into the toilet, or climb the bookcase.

Must. Get. Sleep.

That's all a parent in the early years longs for. Could we wrap that up as a Mother's Day or Father's Day gift?

I was warned that the later years were a mental exhaustion that is hard to describe. Truer words were never spoken. 

Because for one thing--there's the incredible mission impossible of being a pioneer parent in the digital age. Trying to keep up with technology and keep track of the dangers and the pitfalls and the influence of social media. There's the coaching your kids through news they are getting in real time. There's cyber bullying and worth valued by the number of likes and reposts or retweets...or whatever the kids are calling it these days.

On top of that, there's academic pressure and which way to school your kids and how to prepare them for college and how to not say 1,347 times a day during finals week that, "Hey, don't forget. ALL these grades count toward college now" to your high school student. Then you have kids driving and you somehow feel that if you expend enough brain power and emotions you can somehow control the car and keep your child from danger. Or, you know--you can just pray. A lot.

Oh, yes. Parenting in the later years is indeed mentally exhausting. Middle school angst and changing bodies and hormones and emotions and peer pressure. ALL with the super awesome combination of undeveloped prefrontal cortexes in the brain (for the kids, not for the parents--hopefully).

So basically, as I continue striving towards freedom from worry and how to really believe God and take him at his word, I find myself a bit ragged around the edges in this parenting season. 

Which led to the perfect storms I had this week, whilst solo parenting while the husband was out of town. Some moments, I handled not-so-bad. Some moments, I cried. A lot. And possibly, yes, I cried myself to sleep. And in some moments, I would cringe if there was audio or video evidence of my screechy raised voice asking, "Why, for the love, can you not just get along?!"

Basically, I had a few "parenting really stinks" moments.

Moments when I had to remember to be strong. To pray and take a deep breath before I spoke. To pour grace on my children, remembering they are still children and not adults. To not compare them to my perception of other people's more perfect children. To not allow some momentary mess-up to take me down roads of worry that basically picture some horrible fate. 

In case you are in a parenting stinks moment here, let me speak to you.

You've got what it takes. You do. God entrusted your little angels to you because YOU are the one he wanted for the job. Because you are uniquely gifted and qualified and called to parent the children in your care. In the way THEY should go. Not in the way someone else's Facebook feed says their children are going. YOU are THE one. And God will equip you for each new day, for each new moment, for each new season, for each new stage of childhood or teen years. Fall hard on his grace, swim in his love, and beg for his help. 

He made these kids. He is the instruction manual. Back to the beg for his help statement. If I had a dime for every time I've cried out, "Lord, you made this one. Show me--guide me what to do here"--well, there would be a fully funded college fund for each of the three. Isaiah 40:11 promises that He gently leads those who have young. A-hem. That means YOU. He will indeed gently lead us. It's a truth we can fall back on, pray out loud, and ask for repeatedly.

We are investing in the long term. Lord, help us keep our eyes on the long term prize. That we may not give into the easier thing for the moment. That we will be able to do the harder thing NOW because it will reap rewards later. That we can stick to our discipline guns and set firm boundaries and not sway on consequences and be the mom who is declared the worst mom ever. That we can know that someday we can be their friends, but not during their childhood. Help us to be strong here, God!

Because there's a harvest coming. Oh, that we can remember this is so true. It's Biblical truth, in fact. Galatians 6:9 says, "Do not grow weary in doing good, for in due time, you will reap a harvest if you do not give up." Whether you are sleep training an infant, setting boundaries with a toddler, working on social skills with a preschooler, or raising teenagers. May we all remember the harvest to come. God, give us eyes to see all the amazing possibilities of how you might guide and bless and use our children for your kingdom. Help us to see them with YOUR eyes, to see their potential and even their more challenging traits to parent as specific bents you have placed in them for a purpose. 

What we do every day when we parent is huge, kingdom work. It's miraculous, even in the mundane. I was reading Luke 24 this morning, and for the first time, I was struck by the first few verses. The women were going to the tomb to prepare Jesus' dead body with the spices. 

Um, so this is not glamorous work. Not for the faint of heart. Probably a more mundane and dreaded task for women in that era. Not really that unlike changing dirty diapers or potty training or teaching a teen to drive or filling sippy cups or playing mom taxi or reminding your kids about their chores. I honestly don't know much about that job back in the day, but for the first time, I realized, these women were just going about their duties. Like when I fold laundry or discipline a child or enforce a rule. It's just what I do. 

But listen, weary parents. We never know what a day might bring. Because we serve a God who turns sorrow to singing, hopeless to victory, mundane to miracles, and who breathes life into that which we thought was dead.

It's never too late, in other words. 

How we forget that our God has power over life and death and that he breathed this world into existence with one word. How we forget that he makes the blind see, the lame walk and the sick well. How we forget that he sits with the sinners and the outcast, that he ministers to the ill and struggling, that he is ever present and full of grace. How we forget that if he provided our salvation from death and sin then he can provide for what we need in each day. How we lose sight of the fact that he showed up in a tomb and rolled the stone away and he can show up in our parenting woes too.

And here's the wonder of parenting.

Here's the thing we forget.

The women were just going about their daily tasks. They were just doing their thing, bringing the spices to the tomb.

And these women were privileged to be the first in all the world to witness the glorious resurrection.

So, let's lean into this when parenting stinks.

As we go about our hard and mundane tasks, we are actually getting a front row seat to the movements and glory of God. 

They may not be as spectacular as an empty tomb. But when we parent, we are uniquely positioned to see God move in the next generation. We are the ones who see the tiny miracles when our kids achieve even the smallest victory. And we cheer because we saw all the struggle to get there. We are uniquely positioned to applaud every little milestone, to witness the wonder of a child growing and developing, and to impact the kingdom in never ending ripples through the way we parent the ones entrusted to us.

You just never know.

You never know if even on a hard day, doing a hard thing... you might witness a miracle of how Jesus is still moving and acting and showing up in our world.

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