|(image from sheknows.com)|
God is never more REAL to me than when I'm parenting.
I never realize how wrong I'm doing at the time. When I'm screaming and flailing my arms all about at a toddler who has insisted on spraying down every last bit of the bathroom walls with his own homegrown hose, I tend to lose my gloriously cool, calm, godly disposition that I'd been working on all morning. When the little monsters are tearing through the house at warp speeds chasing a dog who has just come in from the backyard and the result is muddy paw prints and muddy clothes and carpet and furniture and faces because they've collapsed on the floor in a wet, dirty heap, it's hard to compose my gentle, patient, super-feminine tone and not just go bat-shiz crazy on them! When I've put them back in bed a gazillion times in the course of one thirty-minute episode of Drop Dead Diva and each time the excuse has been different and more creative (I forgot to brush my teeth.... my throat hurts and I need a drink.... there were scary noises at the window.... brother won't quit kicking me.... my eyes won't stay shut....) and I can't keep up with whether or not Jane and Greyson are about to have another "moment" or not, I seem to trade my supermom demeanor in for Cruella DeVille on Crack. It's like Whack-A-Mole: Bedtime Edition and I'm at my ultimate wits END. It's in those moments, the ones where I find myself screaming my foul head off at toddlers who don't understand why their mom has "had it", or stand back and watch myself march into their bedrooms at the slightest little peep (after warning upon warning) and slam the television off, spank their behinds, holler "ENOUGH! I'm THROUGH with YOU!" and whip right back out the door leaving behind a wake of tears and frightened whispers and unanswered calls of "Moooooo-ooom..." behind me. These are the moments that I'm not proud of. These are the moments when I realize how much I need help. These are the times when God gives me a glimpse of what it's like to parent me. And let's just say, it's in these moments that I realize that there is no way on earth that I can do this thing called parenthood by myself.
I've brought up before that I didn't have the greatest role models. My parents, especially my mom, tried their hardest to parent my siblings and I the best way they knew how. And in many ways, they succeeded. I'd like to think that I turned out somewhat sane and not entirely emotionally damaged. But there are scars and there are bruises and there are sore spots in life and in memories that have shaped who I am today and that continue to shape who I'm becoming as a parent. Sometimes, I realize that I am unable to give my kids things because I was not given them myself. You cannot give what you've never received. I'm learning this everyday. I have a five-year-old who struggles. He is so much like his mommy, very vulnerable and very needy and when life hands you difficult situations, you react out of defense and protection. I've done it my whole life. Though I've tried to give him emotionally and physically what he needs on a daily basis, I'm finding that I come up short. I don't have it in me. I'm still healing from parenting neglect from years ago and causing these same emotional bruises to be inflicted onto my sons.
For example, I struggled for years and years with the need for a father figure. My parents divorced and even prior to that time, I never had a dad who was affectionate. He was "there" but never presently involved in the day to day. I continually sought affection from him only to get turned away and left in a very vulnerable state. I consistently tried to gain his approval and his attention but what I found more times than not were feelings of annoyance from him, as well as neglect. A child can only take so much of that before they build up a tough outer exterior and decide they are completely fine without the affection and the attention. I struggle in my relationships with my loved ones even now in the area of affection. I desperately want it, but don't know how to ask for it. And when I do finally receive it, I don't know what to do with it. I almost push it away, like I don't deserve it or even like it. I find my son doing the exact same things, and I know it's because I have struggled in giving affection because I, myself have a bit of an aversion to it at times. I hate to think that they are suffering because I have not got the healing that I've needed until now.
This past year has been full of reflection and spiritual growth and relationship-building and molding and I am so thankful that God has made me understand on so many new levels how much He loves and cares for me. In the way a Father does a Child. Within this time of healing and stretching, He's beginning to shine a new light on the way I look at parenthood. He's confirmed over and over how much of a failure I will be in this area, were it not for Him. Seriously. That may sound a bit trite, but it's completely true. I cannot do this well without His help. I will continue to be the Bedtime Nazi From Hell, the Bat-Shiz Crazy Lady chasing my kids through the house because of lack of patience, and the Bathroom Monitor with NO room for grace, if I do not let Him lead me into a better way of parenting. . .one in which I study and understand the way He parents ME. I'm quite sure I've done the spiritual equivalent of running muddy through the house and creating a mighty horror to clean up. I know I've created indignant, intentional messes in my life that rival those that my boys have made with their one-eyed monsters in the bathroom, leaving endless chaos and loads of regret. And never once have I felt God say that He was "through with me". I wish I could parent like He does. I'm finding I can, but it takes a kind of personal surrendering that I've never known before. One in which I allow Him to speak to me everyday about new and more personal ways that I can show love to these boys. He's not always telling me ways to love them that make me feel comfortable. Most of the time they feel a bit forced and inconvenient, but each and every time, they bring some more healing in my own heart and get me closer and closer to theirs. More than anything, I want them to feel how much God loves them because they know how much I do.
My super-intelligent hubby and lover-of-all-things-music-and-movie-related let me in on a spiritual nugget that he found in one of his old, favorite movies, The Crow. However dark and vengeful the film is overall, there is a scene between the Crow and a mother/daughter where he sees the physical damage that the mother is inflicting on herself (with drugs) and the effects that it has on her daughter and tells her: Mother is the name for God on the lips and the hearts of children. Do you understand? Right now, the God they see is in Me. Daily, I'm asking God to curb the Nazi Mommy mentality and control Cruella DeVille and let me see them the way He sees me. It's not always easy, and I'm literally messing up constantly, but I'm starting to feel a little less of me and a little more of Him. It's a process. I just wish I wasn't such a ridiculously slow learner. Sometimes I realize I'm one of God's more "difficult children". He loves me in spite of it.