I’ll let you all in on a little secret that I’ve been carrying around with me for about the last 16 years. It’s difficult to share, but it is something I feel the need to get off my chest. So here goes. My secret is this. I’m a mom and I’m not doing it perfectly.
I know it’s hard to believe, but despite what my Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Snapchat feeds might depict, our family is far from ideal. While it pains me to admit it openly, our kids aren’t exactly faultless either. In fact, they are sometimes lazy, messy, selfish, disrespectful, ungrateful, judgemental, complaining, angry, — the list could go on and on. Here’s the worst part of my secret. Do you know who they learned some of these awful behaviors from? Yep, you guessed it. It was me. Now there’s a slice of humble pie that doesn’t look so appetizing.
Ever since they could walk and talk, our kids have been watching me. When I think of them, I hear the gravelly voice of Roz from Monsters Inc. in my head, “I’m watching you, always watching.” As their mom, my kids have seen me at my very best and my very worst. They’ve heard me say to them “Don’t judge,” and watched me do just that. They’ve listened to me say, “Stop complaining,” and have witnessed me grumbling with my very next breath. Unfortunately, they have seen a whole string of these unsightly behaviors over the years; and sadly, they’ve even repeated them.
It’s easy to point fingers at society, at their teachers, their friends, or various other worldly influences, but when I look at myself as one of their primary role models, I realize quite humbly, that what they’ve been watching over the years, is not necessarily what I always wanted them to see. I didn’t always do parenting the “right” way. I screamed, I yelled, I made poor choices, and my kids have seen it all.
Some parents will find failure in that admission, wagging their fingers or their tongues about the quality of my parenting skills. I have to admit, I’ve spent plenty of time in my life beating myself up over that very fact. As of late though, I’ve also found great freedom in the admission as well. Freedom in knowing that while my kids are quite familiar with my mistakes, they have also seen me at my brighter moments. They were watching when I chose to give of my time at church. They saw me take dinner to an ailing friend in need. They’ve seen moments of patience with the grocery clerk when there was a glitch in the system that was holding up the entire line. Just as often as they’ve witnessed the bad, they’ve undoubtedly also seen the good. I see that good reflected in them when they practice forgiveness, kindness, patience, love, compassion, generosity, unselfishness, hope, faith, honesty, and so much more.
More importantly, I believe God sees it too. When He does, I like to think He celebrates. Not that I’ve adequately done my parenting duty or that that they’ve done another good deed, but that we’re all growing. While I am not the perfect parent, He has created me as the perfect example for my children, that through His grace and mercy He is molding us all into the people He wants us to be.
I would offer this advice to my fellow parents and guardians out there today. Be kind and supportive to one another and to yourselves. Allow yourself to experience the freedom of knowing that in even in our imperfection, He is using both the unsightly and the good in all of us. While He did not create evil, He can control it. As Romans 8:28 says, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”
Today I pray that as parents and guardians, instead of criticizing one another, we would all strive together to remind each other of this fact. It’s okay to admit you’re not the perfect parent and that you’ve made mistakes. It’s okay to admit that your kids aren’t completely blameless too. If we all were willing to make this admission, I think parenting would be a whole lot less lonely and wildly more productive. God bless and easy breathing!