I’ve Had It All Wrong

“Do you love me?” I asked K last week in a moment where I needed validation that I wasn’t a complete failure after spending much of my day tending to a sick Christopher and picking up the house.

“Yes!” was her response.

“Why?”

“Because you give me kisses.”

Boom. Regardless of the busyness of my day, the intricately planned intentional time I spend with her, or the times I raise my voice in a selfish attempt to get her to obey my daughter loves me. It’s just that simple. 

She doesn’t care that I haven’t lost all the weight I gained being pregnant with both her and her brother, She’s not concerned with my stretch marks, frumpy mom clothes, or often over-seasoned food. The countless times I’ve confessed wrongdoing and asked for her forgiveness are quickly forgotten. If only I extended myself that much grace.

The pressure I put on myself to be a “fun mom” missed the mark entirely. She doesn’t care about luau’s, coloring skies and flowers with chalk, or setting up Elefun. She just cares that I’m with her. What a blessing. Just me is enough. Just Mama. Even Mama who hasn’t brushed her teeth and has only had half a cup of coffee. Mama in any form is good enough. The pressure to be a Pinterest worthy parent to my kids is entirely self imposed. They don’t know a thing about that website, though they do enjoy the desserts and meals inspired by it. They live blissfully ignorant lives that other kids have mom’s that take them to Disney World and Hawaii. Other mom’s structure home school activities and only clean while their littles nap. K doesn’t know any better-all she knows is her version of normal. And she loves it. And she loves me. 

My desires to “be better” have a moving target. Will I finally be content as a parent if I stick to a budget, cleaning chart, memorize Scripture with her weekly, and keep my phone on silent until the kids go to bed? Even after I check off the list of things I “should do” I’m likely to be just as emotionally empty as I have been for years. 

I’m a fun mom. Just not all the time. I discipline my child and am, hopefully, training her up to be a woman who loves the Lord with all her heart. I’m a funny and creative mom, too. Just not all the time. K has daily chores and helps contribute to our household. Not only because we pay the rent but because we believe she has the ability to be a helpful addition to our family and avoiding having a child with any entitlement issues is important. She cleans her room and organizes toys and shoes better than I do most times. She is proud of herself for her accomplishments and we reward that hard work in a variety of ways. Fostering her independence-both in the ability to play by herself using her active imagination and in taking care of tasks like brushing her teeth, getting dressed, and helping unload the dishwasher- are accomplishments she and I are both proud of. 

My good intentions in stepping it up as an intentional parent with my oldest was a great idea. I forced myself to get out of my own selfish comfort zone but that didn’t change much. It’s a heart issue-one I’ll address every day for the rest of my life. I’ll never be the parent to K that she deserves because she’s God’s child that has been entrusted to me to shape and mold. My sinful nature will always stop me from excelling. The hope lies in daily new mercies and abounding grace.  I’ll be reminded watching my daughter put on mismatched socks or making her bed that so far I’ve done a great job-and I’ll keep those kisses coming, too.

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