When did parenting become a competitive sport? Lately, I feel like I may get benched for not pulling my weight on team McAndrews. Seriously, there is no varisty letter for parenting... and yet every mom is getting schooled by bloggers, authors, videos, and every other expert out there. Parenting is a high dollar business. There are some well-payed athletes with skin in this game!
I'm here to tell you that according to a recent blog circling Facebook, I'm raising loser kids. Well, not loser kids- so much as kids who will be loser adults. I want to state, before I go any further, that I believe the author of the blog I read is coming from a place of love, sprinkled with humor, and seasoned with experience. That being said, what bothers me to no end is that so many moms then take this as gospel truth and feel inadequate parenting their children.
Remember when we had our kids? Mine are nearly 16 and 14, and I have a 9 year old for good measure. I remember reading every book out there when I got pregnant. I was on bedrest for a good part of it, so I had time to read about all the things that could and would happen to me, my baby, my husband, and my life! So many experts, so little time to figure out which one was right! Then the baby comes and I'm stuck with the mind blowing: Co-sleep- Ferberize- Pacifier-No pacifier- How the heck do I swaddle! Seriously, though! I can't imagine what our parents would have done with all this. Some of them were still smoking in the doctor's office- WITH THE DOCTOR! We're lucky we can even read...
This all began when my well-meaning husband pulled up the blog post, "Stop Doing These 8 Things For Your Teen This School Year," and laughingly told me to read it. You see, I still do 7ish of those things. In the past I would have been angry at the accusation that I was going about it all wrong, probably would have complained aloud, and then cursed the author. I felt none of that. In fact, I felt a little sad for moms out there that I know would read it and feel they were failing miserably. That familiar tug in your stomach reminding you that you're just not enough. That shrug in your shoulders that shows defeat. Not all moms, but there are some out there who put great stock in what social media has to say about their performance. I used to, too!
If you have read any post on my blog, I'm sure you know where I'm heading with this, but all that parenting shame ended when I left it at the cross. Seriously. I went from trying to parent my girls to perfection, to simply loving them. I love each of them enough to know that if I don't pack their lunches (which they are fully capable of packing), they will eat disgusting food for lunch. DIS-GUS-TING! I once logged onto the lunch account to see that my daughter was regularly buying nachos and Pop Tarts! Um, NO! I wake my kids in the morning. I do it because I'm too cheap to buy them alarm clocks. They have to turn in their devices at 10, and charge them in my bathroom. They cannot have their phones in their rooms overnight, therefore they do not have alarms. So guess what. I wake them. It usually starts like a nice Hallmark show with me gently rubbing their backs and saying something sweet. Then the lights go on and I've turned into Mike Wazowski waking Sully in the morning. Do I believe this will ultimately keep my kids from graduating college? NO. Does it work for my family? Yes. Am I implying you should do what I do? NO- in fact, I think you should do what works for YOUR family and let everyone else do what works for theirs. We'd be better suited if we agreed that parenting is not a one-size-fits-all sweatshirt. Has one size ever really fit all?
We want our children to become productive citizens of the world. Most of us raise our kids to take responsibility for their actions, to say please and thank you, to write thank you notes (or at least call to say thanks), and to get good grades by working to their fullest potential. But let's be honest. Don't we want more than that for our kids? I know I do. I want them to have their feet planted firmly in their identity in CHRIST (Proverbs 22:6). I want them to know that this small space they're in isn't the whole world. That there's a world out there that needs them, their message, their love. I want them to see others like Christ sees them, with humility and grace. I want them to grow in wisdom and seek Him before the world. I want them to trust in His plan for them, and to walk out His call (Ephesians 2:10) . I want for them the same things I want for myself; a deep, beautiful relationship with our savior Jesus (Lamentations 3:22-23). Waking them up, making their lunch, taking a forgotten item to school- those things won't change the full trajectory of the adults they become- not when they're done in a place of love and are appreciated by your kids. No, it's their faith that will create the path that leads to adulthood. I cannot hold their hands as they walk onto their college campus (although, I might try), but He can. I may not answer the phone when they need to talk, but He hears (Philippians 4:6). I cannot always give them the advice they need, but the Word is filled with wisdom (2Timothy 3:15).
Here's what I want to say. Moms, you are the mom your child needs. They were uniquely created and you get to raise them! That is a gift. Treat it as such. Stop worrying so much about whether or not you're doing it right. Seriously, stop worrying. Just love on those kids no matter how old they are. Give them stability. Let them know you hear them, see them, LOVE them. Pray over them and for them. They are only yours for a short time. We can't waste that time comparing ourselves to each other- we are parenting different kids. Instead, let's use that time to build each other up, pat each others' backs, and encourage each other in our efforts.