As mentioned earlier, I’m not terribly handy.
For example, I just learned last week how to french braid hair, which is quite the accomplishment considering that I am mother of two girls who request braids almost daily.
Unfortunately though, hair-braiding skills are not much use on The Great Happy Hall Farm Renovation Project of 2015. Josh is ripping and pounding and demo-ing and digging, and here I am french braiding. How helpful.
However, I’ve determined that though I am obviously confused about the difference between a septic and propane tank and despite how I had to secretly look up the correct pronunciation for those boards under the house that we keep talking about (floor joices? Joyces? Oh. Joists.) there is one useful thing I can do: food.
See? I’m helpful, after all.
So I whipped up something extra delicious a few days ago to reward Josh’s hard work and remind my family that I love them even if I am an amateur hair-braider and house demo-er. Herbed roasted chicken and vegetables. Homemade bread and salad.
I was so pleased with myself. I arranged it all carefully on the table and admired the beauty of my perfectly roasted poultry. I called the kids to wash their hands and waited with expectation. They were going to love it. I was amazing.
Edy approached, hands clean. I tried to look casual.
Her response was quick. Sharp. Disgusted.
And I deflated.
All my hard work…for what? My kids are and always will be unappreciative little sinners. What’s the point? I want to quit.
This parenting stuff is. Not. Working.
Or maybe it is.
A woman selling necklaces at a craft fair we attended recently invited my kids to her booth to “see how stretchy” her jewelry was. Naturally, they complied.
My phone rang and, in a momentary lapse of judgment, I turned to answer it. I shouldn’t have.
In an instant, she morphed from friendly saleslady to woman-that-will-probably-haunt-their-memories-for-years. Ripping the jewelry from their hands, she yelled that her necklaces weren’t toys and that they needed to get away from her booth.
Horrified, I gathered them close. The girls were crying. We moved away from Cranky Woman so I could breathe and hug and assure them that it was okay.
Then, in a brief lapse of her judgment, the lady hollered after me, trying to diffuse the situation, I suppose. “Mom’s got her hands full!”
And I seriously considered taking one of those necklaces and seeing how stretchy it would be around her scrawny neck.
Yep. I’m that wicked.
And, if I didn’t have kids, I’m not sure I would’ve known it.
Sometimes, being a parent brings out the best in us.
Loving these little people we’ve been entrusted with is a powerful, strong emotion. It brings joy and selflessness. A sense of purpose we may have never known.
But oftentimes, as in my case, it also brings out the worst.
I had no idea one word uttered by a six-year-old (Chicken?!) could steal my joy so quickly, so effectively.
I had no idea I possessed such a temper. I wanted to strangle a stranger at a craft fair, for goodness sake.
Or that I was such a hypocrite. How many times have I been the Cranky Woman? Yelling at my kids over something silly? Scarring their precious memories with mom’s angry face?
It makes me sad to think it. It certainly makes me ashamed to type it.
But I think it’s working, after all.
Parenting, that is.
Not necessarily on my kids.
But maybe it’s working on me.
About the time this blog goes live, our fearsome little Christian will be going in for surgery. It’s minor, but it’s surgery. It’s hard on a mom’s heart.
And I wonder. If it weren’t for times like this in my life—times of uncertainty and fear—would I ever have learned to lean on God? Would I have learned to trust his perfect plan? Would I have ever had to so desperately cling to the truth that God is always acting towards us in love? No matter what happens?
Would I have learned? I’m not sure.
Christian, we pray, will be able to hear us better after the surgery. No matter what, he will be changed.
And with another test of trust under my belt, I hope I will be too.
Somehow it’s taken me nearly seven years and four kids to figure it out but I think I’ve finally got it.
The real point of parenting, I believe, is not as much about us training our kids as it is about God training us.
Our parenting is working. On us.
It reveals our sin.
It destroys our self-reliance.
It illuminates our need for Jesus.
It glorifies God’s mercy in our lives.
It draws us closer to him in absolute trust.
And that, I honestly believe, is the key to good parenting.
Not learning to French braid (though that’s handy.) Not molding our kids into perfect angels (because that’s not going to happen.)
But in allowing ourselves to be molded.
Parenting is working, even if we (I!) still have a loooong way to go.
How about you? What have you learned about yourself through parenting?
So good Hannah! Excellent point that we can always rest in the fact that parenting is “working.” 🙂 And “Joyces” – hilarious! I love your honesty.
I think what you meant to say was that you love my “idiocy.” That’s a more appropriate word choice in this situation, I believe. 🙂
Oh, my yes, Parenting shows us our sin. I didn’t know I had a temper until I had kids. I wish I could say that discovered my temper when I was angry at strangers who hurt my children. But, no, I discovered my temper when I was angry at my small sinful children for acting like small sinful children. Ugh.
Yes, I’ve also been angry people who attacked them.
Not a pretty thing. I have often prayed that God wouldn’t let the kids be scarred forever. The redeeming element is that when they see us sin and they see us ask forgiveness from them and from God, they learn what to do with their own sin.
So take heart.
Praying for Christian and for you this morning.
I remember a time when Edy was small and was refusing to let me brush her teeth. I was horrified at how angry I got over such a small thing. Thankfully, God allowed me see my rage for what it was before I unleashed it on her. (That time, anyway) So, yes, I discovered my temper way before Cranky Woman made her unfortunate comments. :/
Thanks for the prayers. The surgery went well, and Christian woke up running this morning. 🙂
Oh my Hannah, I would’ve wanted to yell in that woman’s face! Or snapped a handful of those necklaces! Good words. Parenting has undoubtedly made me a better person all around. But I too still have a loooong way to go!
It was a very Momma Bear-ish sort of moment for me, except not in the cuddly, I-love-my-cubs kind of way. It was more like I’m-going-to-rip-your-face-off kind of Momma Bear-ish. Very frightening. Thankfully, God restrained me from doing something foolish. I would’ve hated to have to leave the craft fair and miss out on the kettle corn. 🙂
Oh my goodness Hannah, so much yes to this. What you’ve written is definitely my experience of parenting, and my best days are when I realize that God is working on me first. He is parenting me, this is both deeply painful and deeply comforting. Love to you my friend! And happy renovations.
Thank you, sweet Devi. 🙂 And happy moving to you too!
(Also, I have a sneaking suspicion that this renovating/moving business does not contribute to parenting being any easier either. Wouldn’t you agree??)
Wow, Hannah! This post is so insightful! God has used my kids to change me in a big way to be more like Him. It’s been messy and shown my ugliness, but I’m so glad for it. Thank you for this!