Wednesday, February 17, 2016

When You've Blown It.

If you haven't blown it yet, it's because you're still pregnant. 

If you haven't blown it today, it's because your kids are still asleep. 

We live, we breathe, we blow it. 

My first "blown it" moment came when I was up in the 2 o'clock hour of the morning with my 5 day old firstborn.  She had pooped and I was only using a nightlight, so to not rouse her from her drowsiness while we changed and fed.  I changed her, fed her, burped her, and re-swaddled her.  She rooted and fussed in her bassinet.  I rewrapped her, bounced her, sang to her, and tried to get her snuggled back into her bed.  She squealed.  Bawled.  Fretted.  Twisted and turned.   I tried all of the above again in a tizzy of sleep deprived angst.  Only this time, when I took her diaper off to see if she had already messed up that brand new diaper, I found her old poopy one folded up inside the diaper SHE WAS WEARING.  My baby was trying to tell me she was miserable with an extra poopy diaper on her bottom. 

I changed her and then held her.  There was more crying. 

But this time, the tears were mine. 

I realized in that moment that even though I had read every parenting book on the planet, had studied and asked questions and searched and prepared, and even though my intentions are to walk through hell itself for my daughter's well being, the reality is that I will fail her

I have failed my kids time after time since that middle of the night in February of 2004.  When I raise my voice in frustration over a glass of spilled milk, I've failed them.  When I am quick to assume the worst about them, I fail them.  When I discipline out of anger, I fail them.  When I forget to play a game I promised we would play and bedtime gets here a little too quickly, I fail them.  When I fly through my day treating them like they are subtracting value from my life and distracting me from all I "need" to be doing, I have failed them.  When I treat them like babies and don't give them enough responsibility, I fail them.  When I do something for them because I know they won't do it as well as I would but I don't want to take the time to empower them and teach them, I fail them.   Every time I put them off, shut them down, or overprotect them, I fail them.  This parenting gig is the hardest part of life. 

We fail them. 

Not deliberately.  I get that.  But pain is pain.  When our hearts hurt, it matters not that the pain was unintentional.  The heart, especially a young heart, doesn't have the ability to automatically sift through the situation and get to the bottom of motives and such.  It just knows that pain hurts.  As moms, nothing on this earth is more daunting or consuming to our minds than the fact that all is not well in our child's world.  And if, God forbid, the pain was dealt by our hand?  Sleepless nights and a broken heart are our companions. 

There's a difference between a reason and an excuse. 

A reason tells all the parts of the scenario that led up to the decision or action that was made.  For example, I slept poorly last night, didn't eat lunch, and that led me to have a terrible headache. 
An excuse says, I slept poorly last night and didn't eat lunch, so my head hurts and you're just going to have to deal with how crabby I am as a result. 

The difference?  Accountability. 

Accountability says, "These children are making me want to shove toothpicks under my own fingernails today but their very real and terrible behavior doesn't give me the right to wound them."

Accountability says, "I am overworked, underappreciated, and totally forgotten.  But these facts don't hand me a ticket allowing me to take out my frustration on my children who are going to be children."

Accountability says, "I am responsible for me."

So what now?  What do we do after the moments when we've yelled a little too loudly or we have disappointed or wounded the heart of our child?  Here are some things that will help. 

1.  Take some time and grieve the loss of that moment.  Hurt.  Feel grief.  Feel regret.  But accept it for what it is--  a moment in time, and not her whole life.  Feel remorse but refuse to let guilt set its camp up in your heart.  You're a human who has been given the highest calling of raising other humans.  That's reason to feel the gravity of it all, but is no excuse for letting yourself be sucked into the drain of shame.

2.  Get down on her eye level and say, "I'm sorry that I______."  Don't use an excuse.  Own your part.  "I should not have spoken to you like that.  I am sorry I hurt you." 

3.  Ask her for forgiveness.  In our house, we don't allow each other to say, "It's ok" when one of us asks for forgiveness.  It's not ok if we wound each other, period.  Forgiveness means to release the offender of the need to pay us back for what was taken.  It doesn't mean sweeping it under the rug or writing off the behavior as acceptable.  Remind her that being a mom doesn't remove the ability to make mistakes from you.  Tell her that by forgiving you, it's like opening a brand new pad of paper to draw a brand new picture with brand new markers.  She'll get it. 

4.  Receive her forgiveness.  You need to receive it as much as she needs to give it.  That moment is over.  You won't get it back, so don't dwell there.  Hold her, kiss her, squeeze her, and let her child-hearted mercy heal you. 

5.  Choose repentance.  The word repent means "to turn the other way."  God isn't the least bit interested in modifying your behavior toward your children.  He wants to change your heart.  Worrying about your behavior all the time is exhausting.  Walking with Jesus-spending time with Him so we can become more like Him- just automatically sends us in the direction of repentance.  He doesn't walk in the direction of destruction or hurt unless it's to rescue us.  Walk beside Him and He is sure to lead you in paths of wholeness and before you know it, your apologies will become fewer and farther between.  Instead of making your prayer, "Lord, help me not to lose my temper on my children today," why not try, "Lord, make me just like You"? 

I believe our children aren't shaped into beautiful adults by perfect parenting.  I believe they become compassionate, forgiving, wise, and loving by parenting wins and by our failures.  I also believe successful parenting is a conglomeration of wounds and graces and scars and mercies.  Today, as you sip on your shortcomings, let God do what He does best--  gather together your ashes so He can grow a garden in them. 

You will fail them.  But He won't fail you.

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