A few weeks ago I was leaving our weekly Bible Study and as I was herding the kids out to our car amidst the sea of minivans a friend stopped me and said, “How do you do it? You are always so put together and you make it look easy. I need your secret.” I laughed in her face and said, “Do you want to know my secret? Most days I feel like I’m barely keeping it together.” I’m not as put together as some may think (it actually surprises me to think that anyone believes I’m put together). But I guess if you saw me in passing, you may think I’m forging ahead with confidence, crushing all my life goals…maybe? I mean, you wouldn’t think that if you saw me in Target last week when I was in smelly gym clothes trying to explain to Atlas why he can’t have another toy while simultaneously trying to get Andi’s lip to stop bleeding because she threw such a fit that she ended up busting her own lip on the grocery cart. I guess it depends on when you catch me. If you’re looking at my Instagram feed, you may think my life is always pretty and I’ve got a great handle on things.
But if you’re reading this blog right now, I want you to know that my life is messy and I get confused and I second guess my parenting decisions on the regular. I go to bed thinking, “I was too hard on the kids today – they are going to wind up in therapy.” Or I go to bed and think, “I was too easy on them – they are going to wind up in jail.” I struggle. I doubt. I worry. I’ve got the adult acne to prove it.
Today I just want to be transparent with those of you tuning into read this little blog. Last week was a hard week. Actually, the last 2 weeks have felt extra draining. Nobody is sick. Nobody is hurt. But life with 2 toddlers has just been hard lately and sometimes when life gets really hard, insecurities overshadow the truth in my life.
Andi Rose is 18 months old and ‘no’ is her favorite word. We call her “Miss Personality” and that same personality that makes me laugh until my stomach hurts also makes me want to pull my hair out some days. Atlas is officially a threenager and he also loves to exercise his right to tell me no. He really likes to take it 1 step further and tack on the “I won’t do it and you can’t make me” line for emphasis. He plays hardball now.
I feel like motherhood is a game where the rules are constantly changing and just when I get into a groove and I exhale and think, “Okay! I got this now!” – The game changes again and I’m back to learning, googling all the things (rarely is that a good idea, by the way) and wondering what the next right thing to do is.
Last week I called my mom sobbing. I’m pretty sure she thought someone was seriously injured when she answered the phone. When I could finally talk, I only said 4 words: “Motherhood is so hard.” I told her how Atlas told me earlier that day that he didn’t like me because I disciplined him for throwing a bottle at his sister. I told her I felt like the kids were just running the house and bulldozing over me and any boundaries I tried to establish and things just felt utterly out of control.
She said, “That’s because you’re trying to be their friend! STOP BEING THEIR FRIEND! You are the PARENT!”
I’m not sure when it happened or how it happened, but somehow I slipped into the ‘friend zone’ with my kids – specifically Atlas. I love playing with my kids and I love taking them to do fun things and I hate confrontation, so I guess it isn’t surprising that I ended up in the friend zone.
What my mom said to me really clicked though. I am their mother. My job is to be a consistent teacher who guides and corrects them. My job is to love them. I pray that God blesses each of my children with precious friends, but I realized last week that right now, my job isn’t to be their precious friend. I am the authority. I am the boss. And things run better for everybody when I’m in charge.
But adulting is hard. Sometimes I see my children fighting and I’m thinking, “Good grief – I wish there was an adult around here to break that up.” But I’m the adult and as unqualified as I feel for this job most days, God (for reasons unknown to me) saw enough potential in me to give me not 1, but 2 babies.
I want to parent out of truth, but there are several times that I find myself parenting out of fear. For instance, the truth is God doesn’t need me to do a perfect job in order to lead my children to Him. He is more than capable of seeking them out. I sure hope I can help Him in His pursuit of their hearts, but His perfect plan for their lives isn’t going to fall apart because I can’t always keep it together, which is a real fear I struggle with. The truth is, if they don’t eat a vegetable for 2 days in a row (Hi Saturday and Sunday!), the world keeps on spinning. The truth is, sometimes as mothers we plant seeds of truth in the hearts of our children that don’t actually take root and grow to fruition for years to come. The truth is that sometimes things looks barren at surface level, but what really matters is how deep those roots are growing because at the right season we will reap what we sow. The truth is, I don’t have it all together and that’s actually okay. It’s okay for my kids to know that. It’s okay for you to know that. Because nobody has it all together. No woman out there truly ‘has it all.’ It isn’t possible. The secret is out. We are all doing the best we can and we all fall short at times and lose our way and I think the truth is, when we fall short and our kids are watching we are in the best position to show them how real life works.
You probably have never wondered what my secret is. But just in case you ever have, then lean in a little closer and allow me to share my secret with you. I struggle. I don’t get it right every day. My prayer journal is filled with the words, “I don’t know how to…” And the truth is, I think that’s exactly where God wants me in life right now because when I don’t know how to do something, I eventually go looking to Him to lead the way.
And one little random story for your Monday:
Dave has been cracking up the last few days because I am in full blown parenting mode (I’m getting the HECK out of the friend zone) and the kids are so confused by it. I usually ask them a lot of questions like, “Are you ready to go upstairs and take a nap?” (Spoiler alert: they NEVER are) or “Would you rather have green beans or Mac & cheese?” (Mac & Cheese: 372 // Green beans: 0) But now I’m all, “Alrighty! It is nap time and you’re going to take a nap and you’re going to do great at it!” Or I’m like, “It’s time to get in the car and I know you can do it with a great attitude!” Dave thinks it is the funniest thing, but it is working better for us all. There are still meltdowns and tantrums, but I have been taking a deep breath and saying “I am the parent” under my breath and for some reason that helps me feel more confident and I’m finding that the more confident I appear, the more likely my kids are to obey right away. By omitting some of the questions I ask them and replacing the question with a clear command it just sets it up that the issue is not up for discussion. I’m no expert (obviously you know that if you made it to the end of this post), but it’s working good for us right now so I thought I would share it here in case any other mama’s are looking for some inspiration.