I know, I know, all I seem to do on this blog is complain about how hard parenting is. But the thing is, I'm finding it really hard. Things aren't dreadful, but they are tough, and I'm allowed to struggle sometimes. So that's where we're at.
In my church, we do journaling, where you read your bible and find parts that are speaking directly to you, and then you write about what those parts are saying to you, and how they apply to your life. Lately, my central theme seems to be to be brave. "Be strong and take heart, all you who hope in the Lord.” Psalm 31:24 NIV. I'm working on having courage to keep going. To shake off my past mistakes, and continue to trust God with them. I'm learning how to be brave and persevere and trust in God. And I need to do that with my children, and the way I parent them.
I know life, and parenting often gets compared to a roller coaster, but honestly I think I'd liken it more to a swing, you go up and down and up and down, and your legs are pumping and you're working so hard, but you never get anywhere. You just keep doing the same thing over and over. Or at least, that's the way my bipolar style of parenting seems to work, anyway. I'm either caring about everything "no you can't have the iPad" "yes you must eat your vegetables" or nothing, and I parent in an apathetic, can't-be-bothered-trying mode "fine, sleep in my bed" "yes, just go watch TV" "sure, eat whatever you want, just leave me alone!".
You compare yourself to other parents, but most of all you compare yourself to the version of yourself you want to be in your head. You see yourself so clearly through your kids actions and their words, and the voice of Satan whispers "You'll never be enough. You can't do this. You've already failed." It takes so much courage, when you truly do believe his words, to stand up, and continue fighting. To be brave, and trust that God has created you to be these children's parents, right here, right now. That His grace really can be sufficient for your parenting. That His grace will be sufficient for your children.
Maybe that's why we have children. It helps us truly understand the love the father has for us, yes. But I think it also makes us realise just how fallen we are, and steeped in sin. If I'd never been a parent, I'd know I'm a sinner, and I'd believe in God, and need his grace. But now, as a parent, I feel like I am drowning in my sin, and Gods grace and love is the only life raft I have. I have to believe that He can work all things, even my crappy parenting, together for good. Because I love Him. I have to believe That He can not only overcome my parenting, but even use it, to fillfill His plans and purposes.
Really, all you can do is stand, and keep hoping that somehow God will be able to make something beautiful out of this. Keep trying, keep asking for forgiveness, and doing your best, and love them the best you can. Keep waking up at night, and giving them medicine when they are sick. Keep washing their clothes and putting food on the table. Keep waiting in the car for their ballet lessons to finish. Keep saying sorry when you get angry, or make a mistake. And hope that one day, when they look back on their childhood, they will know that you tried.