Saturday night, we attended mass at St. Gabriel’s in McKinney. Hubby dropped us off at the door and went to park. I carried the Lion into the service and Gadget sat next to us. All was well for about five minutes, and then the Lion started talking. He was not using his inside voice, and he was asking a bunch of questions just as the homily started. I asked nicely for him to be quiet, then pleaded and then threatened. I resolved the matter by carrying him out into the lobby.
Once in the lobby, the boys ran straight to decorated tree with wrapped presents underneath. They inquired about the gifts, and then began to run in circles, literally. We arrived at church just before dinner, so they boys were hungry as service came to an end. The Lion even found a tray of Eucharist and took it upon himself to have a snack. I grabbed the body out of his mouth and handed it to Hubby.
As service ended, a wonderful older woman approached us who was also sitting in the lobby during service, and she shared the following. She told us that we had normal, healthy boys. This comment resonated with me. It was truly special and meaningful. She had three boys, and she had been where we were. So many times I look at other folks’ kids who are not running around, and I think, what is wrong with me? What’s wrong with my kids? Why can’t I be a perfect parent? But in reality, this idyllic perfect parent is just a myth.
Recently, I had begun to feel like I was leaning more towards inadequacy, rather than success. I made up my mind I was going to buy some parenting books, and set a plan in place. Saturday evening, after church, we went to Mardel’s Christian Bookstore and I picked up the Five Languages of Children. As we walked around the store, we saw Christian and educational tools we will use the decorate the boys’ playroom. I am excited to have a plan in place, as long as God is directing its path. Funny story, Gadget keeps asking if it’s Christmas yet. When I asked him what he thought Christmas was about, he clearly stating, “getting toys.” I am learning that his response does not mean that I am a failure as a parent, rather, I can continue to grow to be a faithful parent.
Leslie Leyland Fields writes about The Myth of the Perfect Parent on ChristianityToday.com. She writes about seeking advice, and feeling inadequate. She talks about some parents being obsessed with successful parenting; how we avoid the “slacker mom” title, but in doing so, we drive ourselves crazy with anxiety. We induce a parent panic because we think our children will be failures. Failures in school, with their relationships, their families, their bodies, their careers… We desire for our kids to be spiritual champions – no, spiritual giants. I think that because I nearly exclusively breastfeed my children for six months that I am a good mom- that’s what a perfect and successful mom does, right? Yes, this what I did for them, but I have so much to learn about what it means to be a faithful mom.
From Fields’ article,
One writer warns mothers that they must watch all they say and do, because their child’s mind, “like a videotape recorder,” is “carefully transcribing every word, right down to the tone of voice and facial expression.” To up the stakes further, he cautions that a child’s mind and “emotional patterns” may be firmly established by the time he is 2, a “sobering realization for mothers,” he intones.
Am I the perfect parent? No. I will parent imperfectly.
The question we ask of ourselves must be reframed. We need to quit asking, “Am I parenting successfully?” And we most certainly need to quit asking, “Are others parenting successfully?” Instead, we need to ask, “Am I parenting faithfully?” Faithfulness, after all, is God’s highest requirement for us.
The Bible says that perfection is of God, its what we have in Christ, His perfection is our standard, as saints we’re commanded to aim at it, but we should not claim it. The Bible adds, perfection is impossible of attaining to, patience leads to it, and we should pray for it. In conclusion:
We are not sovereign over our children—only God is. Children are not tomatoes to stake out or mules to train, nor are they numbers to plug into an equation. They are full human beings wondrously and fearfully made. Parenting, like all tasks under the sun, is intended as an endeavor of love, risk, perseverance, and, above all, faith. It is faith rather than formula, grace rather than guarantees, steadfastness rather than success that bridges the gap between our own parenting efforts, and what, by God’s grace, our children grow up to become.