Thursday, April 24, 2014

Hard Truths in Parenting

Some nights I go to bed and I feel like the biggest failure as a parent. I fail to be kind, to be patient, to not insist on my own way, to not be irritable or resentful. I fail to bear all things, to believe in the good in all things, to hope and endure all things. Simply put, I fail in loving my children as a parent. Knowing this hurts my soul and breaks my heart in two, and I pray each night for forgiveness from God. Sometimes before my girls go to bed, I even ask them for forgiveness, but sometimes I don't seek their forgiveness in my failures in loving them and the pain feels even more heart wrenching. I know that I am not alone in my feelings of being a failure to one's own child. I say this not in accusation of other parents but rather in knowing that this is a collective struggle that parents from the beginning of time have endured in raising children. What gives me hope in facing this feeling of perpetual failure is that I seek God for answers and strength to die to self  daily and to build the relationships that he wants me to have with my children as their mother, not the one that I want to have with them. Giving in to the realization that my relationship with my girls is not perfect as well as allowing myself to be more reliant on God's grace rather than my own personal abilities gives me the strength and peace of mind to allow myself to be forgiven and to humbly move forward in this calling of being a mother.
       In recent months I have had a particularly hard time with my nine year old daughter. She is beginning to exert her need to be independent as well as to display what I have deemed a truly terrible bad attitude toward just about every last thing she is asked to do. In her mind, her life is the "worst" of all of her friends. No one else in her class has to ride in a booster seat, no one else has to brush their teeth or take medicine that is such an "icky" flavor. No one else has to put their clothes in the hamper or flush the toilette. I certainly am the worst mother out there for making her do any of these afore mentioned things. She has also become quite the expert at everything expressing her opinion on all subjects with great authority. Yes, this is all normal, I realize that. In my teaching career, teaching 9 year olds was my least favorite age of kids to teach for this very reason. And now I am living with one and I feel at times I may not survive until the next stage which parents with older children have shared only gets more intense! It makes me not only feel like a failure to not be able to tolerate this stage but also very sad that my little girl is now more unhappy than not when life used to be a bowl full of cherries in her world.
        So I look for the moments when she is happy and I try and focus on those things that make her smile. I look at the person she is becoming and marvel at the wonderful and intelligent child  that she is. I soak up her sweet smile and never tire of looking at her beautiful long eyelashes and her twinkling soulful brown eyes. I give thanks for her compassionate heart to save even an unnoticed snail from an untimely demise. I rejoice that she has so many friends that she cares deeply about and I cherish the times when she takes my hand, and whispers, "Mommy, I love you!" On the days that our moments together seem more like failures than not, I am reminded by God of all of these blessings that also make up our relationship and I give thanks for the gift of being her mother and another day to begin again.

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