Sometimes parenting is overwhelming.
Overall, I feel pretty secure in who I am as a wife.
As a general rule, I am confident in my abilities as a homemaker.
But somehow, the more I learn, the more I see, the more I live, the less I feel like a good mother.
Actually, if I'm perfectly honest with myself, I don't want to be a good mother. I want to be a perfect mother. Or, at least, I'd like to be able to ensure that I can pick my areas of imperfection and make sure that they won't negatively impact my children.
Because, there is nothing that scares me as much as looking back in 15, 20, 25 years and thinking "if only I had done _____ differently, maybe he wouldn't be struggling with ___".
Or of having a broken relationship with any of my children.
Or of watching them live a life of rebellion against God.
Or of seeing them making incredibly stupid choices and refusing to listen to input from anyone else.
But there is so much I need to juggle in order to "do it all right"!
I need to be...
Consistent in discipline, without promoting outward conformity
Building relationships with my children, while still requiring obedience
Knowing how to give wise consequences instead of merely punishing
Teaching them skills of math, English, etc, while imparting a lifelong love and habit of learning
Making a habit of prayer and Bible reading, without allowing it to become rote, dry, and meaningless
Providing structure and routine, but giving them time to explore and learn on their own
Spending time with my children, but also teaching them the skill of entertaining themselves.
Letting my boys rough-house and wrestle, but also to be quiet, gentle, considerate, and thoughtful
Teaching right behavior, but also teaching that without Christ we are unable to do right
Finding the balance between teaching consequences and giving grace
Making sure they always feel heard, even when I don't agree
Knowing when to instruct, and when to simply listen
And this is just a smattering... there's making sure the 'atmosphere' is right (keeping the house clean AND beautiful), making sure I am being everything I want them to be (since they will learn the most from what I do, not what I say), exposing them to/giving them a solid musical foundation, teaching good habits (like remembering to wash their hands before supper, even though Mommy regularly forgets), establishing regular routines (something I find more challenging than I would have thought), making sure I'm making the most of every minute of these vitally important first five year of each child's life, and so much more...
I have appreciated the opportunity to do more reading, planning, and researching over the past 5 weeks, but, as you're probably guessing, have found it a bit overwhelming. There is so much to be doing as a mother that it is easy to 'freeze' and revert back to responding to life as it comes rather than planning and anticipating each day.
And, of course, none of this even touches on my very real humanity and sinfulness, the times I get frustrated and impatient, respond in a way that I KNOW isn't best, forget all the question mark responses... Not to mention having only so much time and needing to pick what is best out of all the good things to be doing...
Somehow, I so easily lapse into thinking that if I can just do everything "perfectly", my children will 'turn out right'. I forget that God, not myself, is the one that changes hearts. I forget that my children are people with the responsibility to choose for themselves the path they will walk.
I am learning to accept that I am not and never will be perfect, that I cannot chose for my children, and that I cannot change their hearts.
Why then do I try at all, and if it is God that does the work, what is my responsibility? My job is simply to live in obedience to God, repenting when I don't, and seeking Him when I'm unsure.
I am not doing this because I have the assurance that if I do so He will protect me from heartache and make my children on-fire, sold out, soldiers of the Cross. I chose to sacrifice for my children, to pour out my life in teaching and raising them out of love for and obedience to my Saviour, Who gave His life for me.
And I trust that He is good.