The first child was beautifully, perfectly born with a spock-like pointy ear and eyes that needed bifocals at 2. The next was beautifully, perfectly born with lungs that preferred to wheeze as opposed to nicely filling with air and oxygenating blood and a “hip click” that caused us to diaper splint him like a baby yogi until his hip settled nicely not the socket. The last child was beautifully, perfectly born with (not kidding) a butt crack shaped exactly like Harry Potter’s scar. Which sounds hilarious- until you realize that a crooked crack is the bottom of more than a bottom- it’s the bottom of a spine- and a tiny divot and deviation there can be a sign of a big problem that leads to scary specialist appointments and x-ray series. (Even if it’s just a crooked crack.)
Still- as the mom of all three of the messed up kids above- I can tell you they are perfectly imperfect and loved by their mom. (And family.)
I confess- My goal as a mom- even before I became one- was to be perfect – and subsequently- have perfect kids. “If I learn everything and do everything right- my kids will turn out perfect.” Was my mantra. I repeated it to myself as I have scoured every pregnancy book, baby book, toddler book, preschool books, elementary age books, middle school book, high- school book, college/adult child book- looking for the “path to child perfection” like a doctorate student researching to finish their thesis. I was hoping to achieve mothering perfection- because my mommy heart had totally changed the verse that says “In so much as it depends on you live at peace with others” to: “in so much as it depends on you- be a perfect parent and you won’t jack up your kids.”
Except- the truth is- they were jacked up when I got them. The spock ear, bifocals, wheezy lungs and crooked crack should have been a clue.
So was I. So are we all.
And beloved and beautiful and wonderful little (or not so little) creatures that they are- so are our kids.
Roman’s 7:14-25 ” We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin. I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.
So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!
So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God’s law, but in my sinful nature a slave to the law of sin.
We were never perfect. Nor, are our kids. We’re born screaming and selfish (By necessity and probably to save our lives.) with imperfections and the ability to sin. I don’t get why. Honestly? If I were God- I would have just created perfect little obedient humans who would love me and I would desperately love. Truthfully? I doubt I’d give humans the ability to sin or do dumb hurtful things. I mean really- we take advantage of that way too often.
However- the bible says Gods ways are not mine. (Duh.) When I read the verses above- I can so see myself and my struggle to be a perfect mom-battling to do the good [parenting] I want to do- and instead, I fall into unhealthy parenting like water flows downstream. I do the things I don’t want to do and that aren’t; in any of the perfect parenting books. I yell. I let things go I should confront. I take responsibility instead of teaching it. The list goes on….
Depressed yet? Me too. Good thing Roman’s continues on:
Romans 8 1-4 “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death. For what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the flesh, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.”
I won’t pretend to fully understand this cosmic-spiritual-holy miracle. I won’t pretend to understand why God didn’t just create us all with the ability and desire to do the right things- all the time. But, I do know this- few things ring more true in my life than these verses.
- 1) I know I want to be a perfect parent- and I try to be.
- 2) I know I’m not.
- 3) I know that even when I DO parent “by the book”- my kids go rogue and sin disobey and do dumb things anyway.
Just like me. Just like you. Just like all of us.
Just like God’s actions don’t always directly correlate with mine. (Hello- Perfect Heavenly Father- from your waaaaaay imperfect daughter who’s always pushing the envelope and constantly doing things she know’s she should’t) My actions do not always directly correlate to my children’s. Not good ones or bad ones.
Weird but true fact: my kids are separate from me. Who knew?
Does this all mean we have no responsibility in parenting? NO. It means we have a lot. But- we’re limited. Probably because God wants to develop a loving relationship with our kids- as much as he does with us. And it’s quite possible- that if we were prefect parents with perfect kids- we wouldn’t exactly need that. Maybe it’s not a divine accident- but a divine plan. One that includes our weaknesses- our kids weaknesses and HIs strength perfected n them.
2 Corinthians 12:9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.”
So Dear Sister in Mothering- you. the one who’s messed up and trying to hard to be perfect only to feel like an epic failure. Me too. And you- Dear Sister in Mothering who’s doing everything right- and while all may look perfect- you know they aren’t- take heart.I will too.(We can have days and moments on both sides of that fence.) It’s not our fault. It may very well-be part of the plan. (Whether we like it or, not.)
Dear Mom- Let yourself off the hook. Let your kids off the hook. Cut yourself some grace. Throw in a bit of mercy. Take hope in the fact that it doesn’t all depend on you! God is involved. Even here. When we’re messed up -and so are our kids. In our weakness his power is made perfect. Not : In our perfection is his power made known. Even though we feel like it should be.
“Dear Lord- parenting is hard and so emotionally charged. From the days of planning and dreaming to the day a little one is placed in our arms- we desperately want to parent well. We want to be the perfect parent- and produce the perfect child…. but maybe- just maybe that’s never been your plan or expectation. Maybe you want us to be messy and real and love and be angry and learn and grow and let your strength shine through our imperfections- and those of our kids. Help me to fully grasp that lord- with my heart and my actions. Help me to trust you with the outcome and your plan. Even if it makes absolutely not sense to me at all. In Jesus name- amen. “
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