After raising eight kids and knowing the many and varied mistakes I have made in parenting, my latest advice to young parents said only somewhat in jest, goes something like this, “God is the only perfect Father / Mother / parent there is, so you may as well accept the fact you are going to screw it up. Just ask God’s forgiveness, their forgiveness, and forgive yourself for it now and you’ll be ahead of the game.” Bottom line is – we all make mistakes. Some more than others, (I made many more than some of my perfect parent friends) and some less than others. We do the best we can with what we have at the time.
I would love to be able to parent all my children all over again with the wisdom I have gained at 54, with the energy I had at 24. Intellectually and cognitively I am an amazing mother! (When I am asleep and dreaming.) Proverbs 31 has nothing over me,
“When she speaks, her words are wise, and she gives instructions with kindness.”
Uh-huh, uh-huh. I wish I could say that was more often than not. That is where the energy part comes in after 34 years of raising children, I’m quite honestly tired. No excuse – God still demands our best and especially to the ones we are closest to.
“Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her:”
Fortunately I have a long-suffering family and my adult children mostly think I am pretty OK. Dave – he’s just easy to please. Check.
Samuel was adopted from Kazakhstan two weeks short of age 2 and is just the kindest kid you’ll ever meet. He is a great kid all around. His only problem – is me. Due to a traumatic birth and his early years in the orphanage he has some challenges he has to deal with – impulsive, lack of cause and effect thinking, language acquisition problems. (He just recently stopped saying the day after yesterday for the day after tomorrow.) He is forgetful, but in typical teen-age style he remembers the fun things he wants to do but forgets many of the tasks I ask him to do.
This is where my challenge lies – having to repeat instructions, have them repeated back to me, making sure they are understood, and having 500 other things to do. In enters impatience, frustration, a long list of things needing to be done and a lack of finances to do them with – and a sharp tongue. Most youngest children get more from their older parents in terms of financial blessings, he gets less thanks to Dave’s 2009 job loss that has us starting over. More frustration. Sam deserves just a bit more for his hard work and how much he overcomes.
I jokingly tell him, “Sorry Sam, you got the old mother.” In truth, there are benefits to the old mother; he really does get the wisdom that has allowed me to appreciate him for exactly who he is, the wisdom that comes from seeing my own inadequacies in parenting, and the ability to quickly and easily repent. He is my Benjamin – the son of my right hand.
We all make mistakes. In my 34 years of conversations with other moms, I have only heard one say she was a, “perfect textbook parent.” As for me, I kind of beat my chest among the sinners when it comes to my closest relationships.
In my parenting failtures comes a deep appreciation for the ministry of reconciliation that Benjamin was used by God to impart between Joseph and his brothers. (Read Genesis 45) Sam also has a special place in the heart of all of his siblings. Their age differences has made him, like Benjamin a protected younger brother. He has aided in the ministry of reconciliation to all of us through His gentle ways. I get to see Sam not only through the eyes of a parent, but through the eyes of my older children. I get to see how God restores all of my children from the place of imperfect human parenting to perfect heavenly acceptance. Our seven older kids are all amazing adults. We have ten wonderful grand-kids.
I guess I didn’t screw up too badly. At least is shows you that faith in God will produce a crown in all things- when we let Him.
“Children’s children are a crown to the aged, and parents are the pride of their children.”