Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Some Thoughts on Parenting

Parenting. It is such a hard subject, and one that I actually feel insecure writing about here on the blog.

Parenting can be so hard. I fail everyday. I mess up. I make mistakes. Maybe that's why it's difficult to open up about.

Honestly, though, I think that we are all good-enough parents. I really do! I think that if God bestows a person with a child, it's because he thinks that person can man-up and handle it.

I think, though that we all have different strengths and weaknesses when it comes to parenting.

Some people are really good with early childhood development, such as talking to their kids, dealing with behavior issues, teaching them patiently to tie their shoes, or giving steady time-outs or increasing time-outs, on cue, to keep their kids in line.

Others may have mastered the acts of mercy-- giving water to the thirsty, helping the sick attentively, instructing the ignorant in the ways of God.

Still others may have teaching experience, or there again, experience with babies in a nursery. They have patience that comes from that experience on their resume, and they can competently address issues and complications that babies or children may face.

Each of these things brings light and grace into a parenting scenario. Thus, we all bring a different game face to parenting and we all get something different out of it, maybe. We should respect each others' strengths as fellow parents and seek to overlook weaknesses in our friends and in our spouse. The ultimate purpose for parenting, anyway, is to get these people to heaven. And that's definitely not the same thing as teaching them to tie their shoe patiently. Patience is part of holiness, it's a package deal. (fruit of the holy spirit, anyone?!)

I also think that we can't judge our parenting game during busy or stressful seasons of life.

No one is going to be at their best two weeks after surgery or the birth of a child. Don't waste your time analyzing your capabilities when stress is a mother-f-ing mountain. :) :D

When the girls were about to get out for the school year, so many things piled up on me, it would have been the most terrible time to judge my parenting abilities.  I was 9 months pregnant their last week of school, no lie. More things were draining me than were giving me life. I was drained by ballet responsibilities, recitals, fights with my Mom and Stephen, worrying about my stats on instagram, the hustle and busyness of end-of-the-year projects, Anders' and Annabels' tantrums, trying to find and line up babysitters and meals, preparing for the birth of a baby, attending Mass and confession.... and my spiritual obligations felt very laborious to me, on top of it all.

When Conrad was born, however, so many things were giving me life. The change in routine; getting to know a new, sweet baby; all of the help with meals and childcare that we received; having several weeks where Stephen and I barely fought even for a second; noticing beauty in the everyday and wonder at a little miracle. Despite a surge in hormones, I also felt it was life-giving having time to read while I nursed and write and reflect on all of it ... this gave me so much joy and I found pep in my parenting step. haha :)

I brought Conrad to church when he was only a few weeks old, and my friends surrounded me and oohed- and aah-ed over him.We received help and meals for 6 weeks straight, no lie. It's funny... but when Conrad was born I felt... forgiven. I know that sounds strange, but it's true. I wanted to do cartwheels in the backyard. I felt a freedom and the fresh grace of God. Why? Because he was such a gift, such a beautiful, precious undeserved gift.

It felt like the sacrament of confession.  It felt like I had gone to talk to a priest about my faults, and I had received absolution for my sins, a penance for the sake of learning to do right, and the lift of a huge burden from my conscience.

And that's the beauty of motherhood.

I'm a parent, not because I earned the right to be.

I'm a parent because God blessed me with a child.

I'm a good parent, not because I have skills.

I'm a good parent because God gives me the grace everyday to step up to the challenges of motherhood. 

A child is a gift from God-- nothing more, nothing less.

It's an undeserved bestowal of grace. If you've messed it up (and I have), remember that you have a new chance every morning, for his grace and mercy are new every morning, afresh. Everyday, the journey of parenthood challenges my selfishness, everyday, it is a call to the redemption of my sinful heart. Yet, I know I'm forgiven, I'm blessed, and I know that I can thank God for all of it.

"Rise and go, your faith has made you well."


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