Parenting 101

I love the fries at Five Guys. Although it was taking an exceptionally long time for the food and E was not into being patient. As a matter of fact, he was bouncing off the walls. Literally. He was hanging from the partition wall that separates the line from the dining room, calling it his "exercises." After what felt like a near eternity, we finally had food and I felt certain this would lure him to his seat. Who was I kidding?

Maybe it was his sudden outbursts loud enough to cause the entire restaurant to look, or the up-and-down nature of taking a bite and leaving his seat to run around. It could have even been his ignorance of my constant scolding. I'm sure all of that combined with the fact that seated at our table was my friend and her three boys who hadn't so much as made a peep. There they sat, quiet little angels, perfectly behaved. The only muscles moving were those in their mouths as they silently consumed their dinner. Whatever it was, I admit. I was mortified. Frustrated he wouldn't listen. Upset he was disobeying. Weary from fighting a losing battle.

Despite the hilarious E'isms that keep us all laughing, or the endearing moments when he tells me how beautiful I am, there are other moments not-so-post-worthy that bring me to the brink of thoughts I never knew a mother could be capable of.

Add to my less-than-motherly instincts factors like single-parenting, different living environments, family dynamics and other topics I'm not yet ready to breech on the blog. There is blame. Is this my fault? There is guilt. Am I failing as a mother? There is questioning. Is it him testing or is it the situation...or maybe both?

And then there are those saints who have gone before. You know - the ones whose children are grown and in that solitary moment of "preciousness" they remind you to "Cherish every moment...they grow up so fast."

I sometimes fight back the urge to yell, "By all means, take him for a few hours and remember what it's like!"

Last night I left my mom's group feeling like an utter failure after a lesson that described consistency as being overrated. "Get to the heart," the lesson challenged. "Shape their character. Be more concerned about the root - who the child is - than being consistent." I wondered how I was supposed to redirect my consistent approach with the balance of grace.

I dare say I try, but with a nearly-five-year-old who is not always aware of his emotions or how to process  them, I don't always get the answer when I ask what he's feeling or what is in his heart that caused him to do a certain thing.

What I'd much rather those older, wiser, seasoned parents tell me is "Parenting is hard...but you're going to make it!" Tell me your war stories. Let me read your survivor's guide. Just reassure me that in this moment - that point where I reach the brink and feel as if I may never recover - that I'm not the only one.

I can't believe my Heavenly Father is so patient with me. How does He never give up hope when I keep ignoring His instructions? Why does He continue to offer grace when I go my own way? How could He possibly continue to offer unconditional love when I disrespect Him so?

No, parenting is not easy. Being a parent is a process. Whether you were planning it, not expecting it, or even desperate for it, however it comes, it's a miracle. (However we make it through may also be a miracle...) So I'm going to do my best to remember these moments are all-too-fleeting, which means "this too shall pass." One day when I'm the older wiser parent who's child is grown I'll make sure to share that advice!


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