Our girls are 11, 8, and 4. It would be very easy for me to fill every waking hour of their days with screen and games and treats because it would make them happy and keep them busy. However, we decided early on (and somewhat out of necessity) that those things would not be the norm in our house. Some of it due to the special needs our girls have, and some of it due to financial limitations, but most of it due to what was best for the kids. And parents, let me just say this-what is best for the kids is not what is easiest for us. Am I right? I’m not saying there haven’t been stretches where the TV was used more than it should have been, or I didn’t morph into entertainment mom, but the norm is not those things.
I was listening to a podcast (The Shauna Niequist Podcast) with Tsh Oxenreider … She and her husband planned for years, packed up their young family, and traveled the world with them for a year. Something she said in this podcast really stuck with me. She said that they had times when excursions and special experiences were planned, and they found that the kids were complaining during those times. The kids were most contented when the family stayed in the same spot for 6 weeks, and they could roam the grounds and make friends and just play. She said that she and her husband had a phrase…”When everything is awesome, nothing is awesome.” Raising an amen hand over here, sister.
Parenting is a crap shoot. We try our best, course correct, and begin again. We’ve had times where we’ve made things awesome for our kids and the been shocked-SHOCKED-at the entitled attitudes we see (but we’ve made them that way, right?). We have found that the less we meet every whim of our kids, the better they are at actually seeing this world. They see people as more than vending machines for their desires. They see needs and meet them. They fight with each other and learn how to resolve conflict. Sometimes there are long stretches of fighting and going in circles and I turn in my ticket for the crazy train. We have learned the hard way that fixing their problems doesn’t actually fix their problems.
There is, of course, this whole deeper end of things. If our kids are never made to face conflict, if they are never allowed to feel discomfort, if they can never be shown their own lack, then they never really understand their need for Jesus. If everything is awesome, then nothing really is. And the same goes for me as a mom-I need to allow my life to be interrupted for the sake of my kids. If I never feel that tension, I’ll never really rely on Jesus to help me. We each need to lean into the imperfect so that the Perfect is made known.
So, it’s July. We’ve had wins and losses this summer. I can say that we’ve grown closer as a family with all of the school stuff stripped away, and that was my goal. I don’t know what the next month and a half will bring, or what the next 10 years will bring, but I am finding that leaning into the imperfect and leaning ON the Perfect has helped me in the last 2 hours, so I’ll keep on keeping on.
There is so much grace for these parenting days. I am so grateful for that!