Pulling My Hair Out and Thinking About God

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.


4 thoughts on “Pulling My Hair Out and Thinking About God

  1. I’ve been meaning to come by and tell you how much your comment at my place meant last week — and oh, do I ever identify with this post.

    My house is a complete and total disaster for the time being and I have just come to terms with the notion that this is where Kyle is right now. And, as his Mom, I’m along from the ride. And it’s only a ride. It won’t last forever. I can take a deep breath and count to twenty and remind myself that it won’t always be like this. I won’t always be Googling search terms like “how to get Desitin out of cat fur”. And then I think about all the memories I will have when I’m old.

    I find that I must acknowledge to myself that as much as I sometimes pretend otherwise, I wouldn’t change my wacky, creative, clever children for anything in the world. Even though they drive me absolutely bonkers with those very same qualities.

    Your kids are clever and smart and creative, Val. And that equals messes. They are going to push your patience and sanity pushed to the breaking point and then some. Frequently. The fact that they are at this point in the time-space-continuum completely and wholeheartedly bent on mass destruction has nothing whatsoever to do with your parenting skills. If it did, then I would be right up there with you for “The Most Horrific Mommy Ever” nominations for my performance over the past two weeks.

    I absolutely adored this beautiful, honest post of yours — it was just what I needed for encouragement this week. I found myself reading it and thinking that out of all of the people that God chose to bless and call his own, he chose the ones that he also referred to as stiff-necked, rebellious, difficult. And He adored them. Because in spite of their faults He saw sooo much potential.

    Our kids are much the same. And for what it’s worth, from one harried mommy to another. I think you’re fabulous. Your love for your children and your family shines out of every syllable you write. You and me — we’ll survive this chaos phase just fine. Because we love our families. Because we ARE good moms.

    Big giant hugs to you 😉


  2. re: God changing his mind

    This may be a little heavy, but here goes…

    Here’s a problematic passage, Jeremiah 18:9-10:

    At one moment I may declare concerning a nation or a kingdom, that I will pluck up and break down and destroy it, but if that nation, concerning which I have spoken, turns from its evil, I will change my mind about the disaster that I intended to bring on it. And at another moment I may declare concerning a nation or a kingdom that I will build and plant it, but if it does evil in my sight, not listening to my voice, then I will change my mind about the good that I had intended to do to it.

    KArl Barth comments in his Church Dogmatics, II.1:

    According to these verses man is constant in his wicked inconstancy. This is just what God is not. God is consistently one and the same. but again His consistency is not as it were mathematical. It is not the consistency of a supreme natural law or mechanism. the fact that He is one and the same does not mean that He is bound to be and say and do only one and the same thing, so that all the distinctions of His being, speaking and acting are only a semblance, only the various refractions of a beam of light which are eternally the same. This was and is the way that every form of Platonism conceives God. It is impossible to overemphasise the fact that here, too, God is described as basically without life, word or act. Biblical thinking about God would rather submit to confusion with the grossest anthropomorphism than to confusion with this the primary denial of God. In biblical thinking God is certainly the immutable, but as the immutable He is the living God and He possesses a mobility and elasticity which is no less divine than his perseverance no less than its own divinity naturally requires confirmation by His divine perseverance. (496)… Yet it would not be a glorifying, but a blaspheming and finally a denial of God, to conceive of the being and essence of this self-consistent God as one which is, so to speak, self-limited to an inflexible immobility, thus depriving God of the capacity to alter His attitudes and actions… He is not prevented from advancing and retreating, rejoicing and mourning, laughing and complaining, being well pleased and causing His wrath to kindle, hiding or revealing Himself. (498)

    Barth comments further in The Humanity of God

    God’s high freedom in Jesus Christ is His freedom for love. The divine capacity which operates and exhibits itself in that superiority and subordination is manifestly also God’s capacity to bend downwards, to attach Himself to another and this other to Himself, to be together with him… God’s deity is thus no prison in which He can exist only in and for Himself… It is when we look at Jesus Christ that we know decisively that God’s deity does not exclude, but includes His humanity. (48-49)

    In this divinely free volition and election, in this sovereign decision (the ancients said, in His decree), God is human. His free affirmation of man, His free concern for him, His free subsitution for him—this is God’s humanity… In the mirror of this humanity of Jesus Christ the humanity of God enclosed in His deity reveals himself. (51)

    …End of Barth’s comments…

    It makes my head spin. In Christ the peace was made permanent to all his children for all time. God is for us.

    Peace, Tim

  3. Tim–You totally knew I was sitting over here thinking and thinking about the whole God changing his mind idea, didn’t you? It is a little over my head, but VERY good stuff. Thank you.

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