As a kid I didn’t always enjoy church. My Sunday school class was pretty painful. I’d actually forgotten about this little detail until I sat down to write. I forgot that I used to beg my parents to let me come with them instead of attend my Sunday school class. Sometimes I got lucky and other times, well...not so much.
My class was mostly full of kids I didn’t connect well with. I had an occasional buddy but not regularly and then there were the ADHD twins. Those poor guys, they really tried soooo hard to be good. I’m convinced that at the very least they wanted to be good, regardless of what presented itself. Honestly, it was as if their bodies were magnetized and these invisible, bewitching, hypnotic forces were drawing them together against all reason, logic or threat from both frazzled teacher or angry parent.
Two seconds after each and every reprimand from our volunteer teacher and they were back at it, rolling on the floor together, wrestling as if they were getting paid for it. It was painful to watch and impossible to get through a lesson. I like to imagine that they grew up to be incredibly successful adults. They likely invented something crucial to the continued existence of the human race, that only their minds were built to dream up and NOW they’re drowning in money and ridiculously philanthropic. That's what I like to imagine anyway...
All that to say, I preferred NOT to be in my Sunday school class. My first choice actually, if and when, I was given it was always to volunteer my services in the nursery. Babies!!! It was typically a race of sorts between all the tweens. The nursery workers typically welcomed the first couple of eager young volunteers but after two or so the rest were turned away. I LOVED my nursery Sundays!
I’m currently 13 years married and I have 4 kids. Each of them, at one point in time were babies; cuddly, beautiful, incredible, could do no wrong, babies. With each one I adored their tininess. Well, actually I take that back...my first wasn’t so tiny. He’s always been big, seemed big and grew out of his babyness quicker than he was supposed to which is why we had Mia, 19 months later.
Mia, on the other hand, has always been my peanut. She resents that descriptor, but it's true (I won't tell her I used it if you don't). She’s been in the 25th percentile her entire life and so I didn’t need another baby until later than I needed Mia. Sofia joined us when Mia was two and half and Nyla came when Sofia was a few months past her third birthday. That's all four of my babies and that’s IT for us. I'm content with the size of our family and honestly although I still love babies I have NO more aches for more, which feels nice.
For me, each of my baby experiences was better than the one before. Between each one I grew a little and relaxed a bit and so waking up to a scrunched, hungry little face was painful physically, but emotionally, all I could think was, “Oooo, it’s YOU again! I’m soooo happy to see YOU!” The sweetness of those moments almost make me tear up a little to think back on. They were truly precious times!
Well, here’s the gut punch: they don’t stay little and precious and cute. Correction, they stay precious. They get big and they argue and they talk back and they think they’re smarter than you starting at age five (and sometimes a little earlier) and they argue and argue and negotiate and did I mention argue!?
They also disobey when they’re old enough to know better. And you know that idea you had (Well I certainly had it!)...the one about how you're going to do things a little differently than the way things went down in your family of origin. The one where you say to yourself, “I’d reeeeally like it if I could create an environment where my kids and I could have an open dialogue and discuss our feelings and thoughts and respect one another without having to be the parent who’s intent on controlling and micromanaging each and every itch, step and urge. I don’t want to be the parent who’s presenting a hard ‘NO, because I said so!!!’, all the time. I want to teach them to think critically and be deep souls with important, wise and altruistic thoughts.” LOL!! Seriously, I'm rolling on the floor peeing my pants thinking about how I really thought all those naive thoughts!! I even spoke those thoughts out loud!
So reality is this: kids are very cunning and skillful manipulators. They don’t want to be wise or wonderful. They don’t want to have lovely conversations. They just want to find the straightest line to their end goal. So now, many years deep into parenting we’re reeling it all back in because all those conversations we thought we were cultivating were actually (in the minds of most of our children) invitations to push Mom and Dad from ‘no’ to ‘maybe’ and then into ‘yes’.
I had such pie in the sky sorts of ideas regarding parenting and so many icky, harsh judgments towards the parents who seemed to be missing it. Honestly, my struggle now is restraining myself from jealousy towards the families who (on the surface) seem to have enjoyable relationships with their kids; relationships that don’t appear to be filled with constant correction and discipline.
I long for the day when my family can all sit around a table together laughing and loving each other; sharing the day without having to one up or tear down one another. I have faith that that day will come! As I’ve shared in past posts, we occasionally get those sweet, lovely moments. They do happen, they just don't happen as often as I'd love. I’m hungry for more!
So, from one disgruntled parent to another, if you’re feeling the burn of parenting (like I am) and you’re seeing all your friends and acquaintances on social media with their beautiful, pristine-looking moments (and I know I'm super guilty), be encouraged that looks can be deceiving. No one and no family is perfect! Taking pretty pictures is the easy part, trust me, sista (or brother)!! Parenting is HARD and it’s a long haul NOT a sprint. When discouragement comes knocking (and it will) remember that you’re not alone. I’m so thankful to not be alone! ...sob...sob.