*Mama side note* With the exception of night time my child is potty trained. I’m claiming it to be true now because I am just simply that proud and impressed with my little girl. To jump on a bit of a bragging train I have to share yesterday’s nap time story. I put on her diaper for good measure and left her room knowing full well she wasn’t going to sleep. She was exceptionally crabtastic and rubbing her eyes so one would assume it’s nap time. She spent about 30 minutes playing with toys on her bed while I pretended I had something to do and aimlessly cleaned the house. I’m sure I was doing something very important and extravagant when I heard the toilet flush. Now I’ve read Love You Forever often enough to know that sound is always, ALWAYS bad. Well not today, my friends. K had escaped from nap time jail, took off her pants and diaper, peed, and flushed. Now what are the odds? Slim, that’s what they are. Now I’m giving her the benefit of the doubt in assuming that some plastic creature we own isn’t also down the plumbing but in the interest of assuming the best in others, including my child, I’ll rest knowing she’s the coolest kid ever and move on to a riveting blog post.
I’m a stay at home mom who works part time for my church in childcare. I needed OUT.OF.THE.HOUSE after a few months of mommy solitude. The gig works out great for me: I’m surrounded by Godly women who love Christ, my daughter, and me, I’m out of the house for several hours at a time, K gets to come with me and have free interaction with other kiddos her age, and I get paid to love on other kiddos. Since quitting my job as a Social Worker (though I don’t believe you ever quit being a Social Worker) I found my identity in being a mother who also appreciated fashion. In being the care giver of my child a majority of the time during the week I’ve developed this sense of “I’m the parent, Chris, you don’t tell me what to do” attitude. That’s marital suicide right there. This attitude has reared its ugly head with childcare, potty training, nap time, giving medicine, buckling the car seat, and probably in the way that K sits on the couch. Pretty minor stuff if you ask me.
Now we operate our marriage in a Biblical fashion that looks somewhat like- God>Chris>Elizabeth. This isn’t a perfect example but it’s 7:30 AM, my arms are sore from working out (!!!!), I’ve had minimal sips of my latte, and I have a head ache so work with me here. The point I’m making is all our interactions and decisions point back to God. I’m called to submit to my husband (Ephesians 5:22- Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord.) This doesn’t mean I’m inferior as we’re equally yoked (2 Corinthians 6:14:Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness?) We’re in this together, Team Culbreth, and I often forget that he may actually have possess enough intelligence to figure out what’s best for our child.
So often I find myself wanting to say something like “I’m the one who gave up her career, who spends 10 hours a day caring for this kiddo and have probably lost half the hairs on my head in the process so you go on with your bad self to your fancy job and I’ll stay here and clean up poop. Oh, and you’re welcome.” Maybe I don’t mean to be that nasty put the point is valid- there was long ago some resentment that likely manifested it’s way in disrespect and contempt. For that I apologize, though I’ve already made those amends with my husband. When I think X, Y, or Z toy, play group, outing, discipline method is OK and Chris disagrees my first inclination is to explain why he’s wrong and needs to just hush his handsome little face. Of course that’s not exactly helping with Sanctification but it has definitely been a lesson I’m starting to learn. For example, I’m perfectly content with K being in child care at the gym for an hour a few times a week. Chris is not. To some degree this blows my little noggin and forces me to either go when no one should even think about being awake, or in the evening. Since our night’s are usually packed anyway I’m thinking this will be a rarity. Obviously (and I’m not pleading my case here) it makes sense for her to come with me, play on some super unclean toy structure with kids who have snot, rashes, and are bully’s. All in the name of cardiovascular health. I mean, she needs to take one for the team, right? I’ll concede to his concerns, be sad that I can’t take a mid day break to jam to my iPod while looking oh so cute with my neon orange Asics knowing my way around the free weights much more than the girl next to me whose lululemon yoga pants look so much better on her backside than mine. Ugh. She probably doesn’t have kids and spends her days not eating so she can feel the buzz after one Cosmo. I’ve been the drinkorexic before and it’s no bueno.
My husband’s differing opinion is not to hold me down, not to be domineering or prove how he’s the man of our house but rather because, simply put, the man has an opinion. I really am seeing this as a part of him loving K and not trying to control our lives. I have to learn to let go of control and accept that I’m just half of K’s parenting team. We have to be a divided front. We already do such a good job of not letting her split us to get her way (“Mama, can I have juice?” “No.” “Daddy, can I have juice?” “Mama just said no. Why are you asking me?”) I think at the end of the day the biggest deal is pretty much a toss up between my own pride and my own lack of trust that anyone else may know more about my child than I do. My insecurity as a parent rears its ugly head regarding my better half, and for that I am sad.
God has shown me that I don’t know it all. That my decisions are wrong much of the time and that Chris knows just as much about being a parent as I do. Regardless of the amount of time I spend with K during the day Chris is going to try and fail alongside me. Once we are of the impression we can do this alone we devalue our marriage and partnership in doing life together. We should be each other’s biggest fan, and most of the time we are. He encourages me more than anyone and I’d like to think I do a good job building him up. I have a responsibility to my man to let him know that though our methods are different we both have the same end goal- to raise a safe, happy, Christ loving daughter.
My challenge to myself is simply to let go. I love Chris for so many reasons and in my efforts to be more like Christ I may very well be allowing my own pride to interfere with opportunities to extend grace to a man who has so many times extended it to me. The countless occasions that I’ve spoken too harshly to K, spilled her medicine because she wouldn’t take it, or left toys outside to be ruined are just minor examples of how I don’t have it all figured out. I’m so thankful for my God that does and for blessing me with a man that cares enough about his family to put us before others and tolerate my pride.
I’m probably going to remind Chris of the self-induced craziness that is our day as an excuse for being a less than ideal helpmate. K is going to fall down, get more bruises, and generally misbehave. It’s not a reflection of how I’m doing as a parent, per se, but it certainly is indicative of my inability to do this alone. Since she often times likes him more than me he must be doing more things right than wrong when I’m not around. His worth is immeasurable as a spouse, co-parent, and friend. For this and many other reasons I’m thankful and realizing that it’s OK to need my man does not make me a less independent woman, but one who genuinely seeks to set an example of a marriage worth imitating to a daughter who couldn’t be more deserving.