I just have to start by saying this parenting gig is hard. Lately, I have felt like it is kicking my butt.
Last year, I had the opportunity to be a part of a panel speaking and answering questions at a MOPs meeting. I had a particularly hard morning leading up to that time and we feeling pretty fed up with my older kids. I was talking to Rick on the phone right before the meeting when he asked me what I was going to share with these moms of preschoolers. My answer, "Suck it up ladies, it only gets harder!"
Now, I know that would not have been the most encouraging message, but I have had many days where I have felt that way. Don't get wrong, I KNOW that dealing with babies, toddlers, and preschoolers is HARD WORK! I have done it 6 times over. The problem is that I was comfortable in that stage. I love babies, I think toddlers and preschoolers are adorable, and I feel like I am good mom to them. I know how to potty train, deal with temper tantrums, make baby food, and love and nurture little ones.
The stakes feel like they are so much higher with my bigger kids. We are only a few years into this tween/teenager thing, but I already feel like I have messed it up in so many ways. I am a pretty black and white, justice-oriented kind of person. That works really well with little kids. I can say, "I'm the boss" and hold them to that. I can demand respect and discipline for those times that they rebel. Heck, I can put them down for a nap when all else fails. Those methods don't quite work with bigger kids.
There is this ongoing struggle in my head and my heart to know when to lay down the law and when to show grace for the sake of the relationship. Grace is not something I am able to give very freely. I either feel like I am being taken advantage of, giving in, or not teaching my kids "how the real world works." Rick on the other had is a grace philanthropist. He just gives it out so freely, without hesitation or concern that it will be unappreciated. It sickens me actually, both because it is so easy for him and because I just can't figure out how to develop that aspect of my life.
You see, I see older teens and adults all around me that just don't get it. They think life is all about them, and they will do whatever they have to in order to get what they want. I shudder to think that my kids could turn out that way. There is this drive in me to create exemplary citizens and people who contribute positively to society.
I have been having these battles with my kids over the way they treat each other, the words that come out of their mouths, and the way they interact with me. Some days, I am really scared about how they will "turn out."
Then, I realized today that I have this whole thing wrong. They have choices to make. I can guide them and teach them. I have spent the last 14 years doing that. At some point, I have to give it to the Lord. I have continue to fulfill my responsibility, but I do not have control. They have to choose.
So, where does that leave me? ON. MY. KNEES. before God begging Him to intervene in their lives, trusting Him to teach them in ways that I can't, and praying daily that He will give me the wisdom to know when and how to give grace and when to draw the line.
Oh, I am going to have 17 years of parenting teenagers so I should be an expert by the time this is over, a really exhausted expert. I wouldn't trade this calling for anything. I am grateful to be a mom and blessed to have these 6 kids. Today, I am feeling the weight of all that it means. I want to do it well. I want to be in my kids' lives and give them the space they need to grow and choose on their own.
Today, I must give it to the Lord, AGAIN!!