I’ve been pulling my hair out with my oldest lately. The cornstarch and beer incident was only the beginning. I won’t even list the litany of messes, or start in on the stories of tricks that she’s pulled, because I truly don’t need anybody to go all Court of Motherhood on me. Believe me, I’m doing a good enough job of serving as warden, judge, and jury myself!
I sent an extraordinarily long confession of a note to my wonderful friend, Kris, lamenting how incredibly awful the Mommy-job and my execution of it was yesterday. The little things and the big things have just been brutal. My oldest’s latest tricks is sneaking things. Sometimes it’s completely innocuous things that she sneaks into her room just to be naughty. Other times, it’s messy things like the cornstarch. It happens both when I’m on top of my job as Mommy and fully engaged all day long, AND during the predictable times when I’m shamefully paying more attention to blogs and email than to my children. I begin each day with resolve to do better, and no matter which way I lean–to the good, attentive Mommy side, or to the rotten, inattentive Mommy side–I’m exhausted by the end of the day. I have new theories on how to improve the situation every day: The answer is more discipline. The answer is more focused attention. The answer is to never, ever raise my voice. The answer is to be more firm. Despite that, every day, at some point I want to throw up my hands and just cry.
Today was a good day with the kiddos. Today we played with fun, messy things together, we sang songs and danced together, I listened more, and put the girls off less. And still, just before bedtime, a huge mess was made when I wasn’t looking, a battle ensued over pajamas and I found myself at the end of my rope.
I already mentioned that I judge myself pretty harshly as a Mom. I do so even more harshly as a Mom who professes to believe in Christ and to have His Spirit within me. I find myself constantly making comparisons to other Mom’s and berating myself. (My sister-in-law, Crystal, for example is THE MOST cool headed, loving, amazing Mom I’ve ever seen. And if she were to ever tell me that she yelled like a banshee, I wouldn’t believe her). In my head Mommy perfection means never losing my cool, always maintaining a calm, level voice, and never, ever letting my anger get the best of me. I will never, ever reach Mommy perfection.
So I was mulling over this idea of the model Christian parent today, and I got to thinking about God: About how He *IS* the perfect parent. I was berating myself with the litany of ‘A good parent keeps her voice calm, a good parent doesn’t get this angry with her children, a good parent keeps the love of her children and her love of her role as a mother in perspective at all times.’
And then I thought about the story of Noah. And I thought about how God grieved that he had even created man. Now I have NEVER grieved that I brought either of my children into the world. And I truly hope that I never do… But I was thinking about this. I was thinking about The Flood and Noah and all. I thought about how God promised he would never, ever do that again.
And while it’s taking quite a bit of license with the story, I suppose, I couldn’t help but wonder… Did God, in retrospect (and theologically, I don’t know what God does with retrospect… He is omnipotent, but does he ever change his mind? Sometimes, I wonder….), think to Himself, “Dude–I REALLY blew my top that time. I will never, ever, ever go that far again.” Of course this is amusing daydream theology of Val, and I’m not purporting this as an actual theory on the divine, I’m not… But it just made me think.
Then I thought of the Israelites and how aggravated God got with them. I thought of the passages in the prophets where God is really angry, and frustrated, and lamenting that his children aren’t listening.
All of a sudden, for this brief second… I felt this intense feeling of camaraderie. God is totally understanding of this parenting gig. He has been through the full gamut of parental emotions. He has disciplined with wrath and fury, and then finally with immeasurable grace in the gift of His son and His choice to conquer our sin and disobedience FOR us since we just couldn’t ever get it together.
He gets it. I mean… He gets it!
I am not the perfect Mommy. I do get exasperated. I do get angry. I do even, on occasion, think fleetingly about selling the children on Ebay. And in these moments a part of me believes that God is looking down on me and saying, “Gosh, Val… You’re really blowing it as a Mom again. Get it together, woman. This is not what I had in mind when I gave you children.” But maybe, just maybe… maybe instead He is saying, “Yeah… I know… It IS HARD. They ARE exasperating. Children DO push you beyond your limits…. I get it, and I’m with you.”
That to me, is a pretty incredible thought. It’s one that makes me want to rest into Him a little more, and to remember that above all He gets it, He gets me, and He loves me. I am STILL an exasperating, wayward wandering child of His all too many times, but he hangs in there with me, just like I’m going to hang in there with my children.
So I’ll keep girding up my resolve not to blow my top ever, ever again. But I’ll also try to keep in mind that The Most Perfect Parent understands the job, and understands me, and he hasn’t given up on me yet.