I am exhausted today. We were at two doctors appointments and the kids are all home. You know what that means? No time to recharge the parental batteries. And bickering. And tears. And some whining. And hearing my name – a thousand times. Hmmm…
I’m tired today. I would like to crawl into my bed and rest some. It’s dreary outside, and frigid. Did I mention that the ground is snow-covered? It is. So a delightful book, a warm blanket and a steaming cup of coffee sound like the ultimate RX for my fatigue. But there will be none of that today. You see, that’s the trouble with parenting.
The kids aren’t the problem. The whining and bickering and incessant calling of my name, those aren’t the problems. The lack of good coffee isn’t even the problem. It’s the parent part that’s the problem. Me. I’m the problem. You see, God gave me four beautiful kids. He sent them to me because He trusted that I would care for them, which I do. I care for them a lot. I suspect that he also thought that they might teach me a thing or two about selflessness, which they have. They have also taught me about it’s evil cousin selfishness, which I sometimes must exercise to get a moment alone. My apologies, I digress.
The trouble with parenting, my dear friends, is parents.
When you became a parent, did you have any clue the amount of time, energy, and money that that darling little bundle would take from you? When I decided to become a Mom, I had no clue. Not a single idea of the sacrifice that it would require of me. I did not have even the slightest hint of the perseverence, diligence, and overall maternal fortitude that it would take to raise up a child. That is probably how I ended up with four. Because of, and in spite of my cluelessness, I managed to birth four healthy children into this world. And thus I began to bleed energy, money, and time. The trouble with parenting in our home? Me. Well, and my husband too. It was us.
When our kids became seemingly out of control and we were frustrated beyond belief, we were forced to take stock of our situation. We were struggling because we were tired. We were distracted. We were moving in 50 different directions, pulled by things that really weren’t all that important. We were busy busy busy, but not with the things (or people for that matter) who were most important. We were being consumed by the mundane, the unimportant, and the selfishness within ourselves.
I realized that parenting takes time. It takes immeasurable amounts of energy. It takes diligence, and follow-through. It takes courage – courage to say “NO”; courage to prioritize; courage to stand up for your family. It takes presence, both of mind and body. Parenting takes intention. It takes rules and boundaries. It takes a good memory to remember the rules and boundaries! It is an overwhelming task, no doubt.
So here I am… distracted by a blog. But I have one ear on my children. They think that because I’m on the computer that they’re flying under my radar. They’re not. They try, but I’m onto them. The reminders are continual, and they’ll learn. But so will I. So am I. I’m being courageous, present, and intentional. I remember the things I asked them to do, and I’m onto them. I’m onto myself. The bedroom will get cleaned, the household jobs will get done, and I will follow through. But there’s one more thing. It’s more of an undoing and I challenge you to do it too.
I’m going to clear my schedule. I’m going to be selfless. I’m going to plan things that give me opportunities to be with my kids and “unplan” things that take me away from them. I’m going to turn off the TV, the computer (as soon as I publish this), and the iPhone. Really. I am going to listen to them and look at them when they speak to me. It’s not much, but it tells them that they’re important. And they are!
The trouble with parenting may have been me. It may be you. But the best part of all, is that within the trouble – within me and within you – lies the solution. Us. Parents. We can give to our kids so much more than stuff. So much more than a clean house. So much more than distraction. We can give them ourselves. Arnold Glasow once said,
“The best thing you can spend on your children is TIME.”
He was absolutely right.