Saturday, November 17, 2012

it's a dirty job {when parenting gets messy}

this morning i needed dirt under my fingernails.  i needed our saturday morning family time to include an opportunity to dig hands deep and feel earth.  
sometimes it feels good to do the kind of work that gets you dirty.  to do the digging and planting that leaves you messy...that makes your normally clean and manicured hands a little less presentable.  

a spray of the hose isn't enough to get that kind of dirt off.  you have to scrub.  and sometimes the scrubbing feels as good as the digging did.  with a little bit of time and a little bit of soap, those fingers are clean and ready for the keyboard.
parenting feels like that to me sometimes.  on a day like yesterday i felt knee deep in mud.  it wasn't an easy, gentle, everybody-is-generally-happy day.  it wasn't a day that i felt we were all cleaned up and presentable to the general public.  we were all wallowing around in the dirt...the mess...the moments of anger, frustration, guilt, fear...  
i was tired.  the kids were tired.  we were traveling.  we had spent too much time 'going' and 'doing' and not enough time 'being' over the past month...it caught up with us.

inevitably there are things that go wrong in our day...every day.  but then there are some days when it seems like everything goes wrong...all day.  on those days i feel like a failure as a mother.  yesterday i felt like a failure...even though i know it's not true.

before we crawled into bed last night my husband held me tight and whispered these words i needed to hear - you are a great mom.  i smiled and softened and then he said this - i've seen a lot of kids who behave much worse than ours do...they're not that bad.  we both started laughing.  sometimes you need to laugh.  i jokingly responded by saying - that's what i'm going for...'not that bad.'  hey - i'd like for you to meet my kids.  they're 'not that bad.'

being a parent requires you to get dirty.  and that's okay as long as you remember these two things...

1 :: some tasks require you to get dirty...so put on an old t-shirt and jeans and jump right in there!  don't act surprised or frustrated when you have to walk them back to time out for the 10th time in a row...or you have to separate ANOTHER sibling battle...or you have to patiently endure screaming and name-calling as you come up with a meaningful consequence...or you watch in horror as two sets of little legs run wild ahead of you in the grocery store making a ruckus that gets everyone's attention.  {yes this ALL happened yesterday}  if you expect to get dirty you won't freak out and have a temper tantrum of your own when everything goes wrong.

2 :: if you want something beautiful to grow, you are going to have to dig around in the dirt first.  the truth is, when it comes to my kids, i am not striving for 'not that bad.'  in fact...it's not 'good' or 'bad' that are my standards of measure at all.  i just want my kids to grow.  i want them to grow in love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.  i know that's a lot to ask but i believe it's possible.  if i am willing to be diligent {and dirty} in the digging, planting, fertilizing, and watering...i know God will be faithful to provide the light that ultimately draws them out of the ground and out of their tight little bud as they gloriously open up to Him.
and so i'm working on embracing the dirt and the mess...knowing that it is necessary for the growth of my little seedlings.  in fact - i'm entering into a season in which i am keeping my old clothes on and rolling up my sleeves for the work that needs to be done in the life of my family.  i'm letting go of the false belief that we need to be neat and clean and presentable all the time.  sometimes others witness us with the brown clods still under our nails and the smell of earth still in our soiled clothes...and that's ok.  we will be scrubbed clean again.  
in between all the getting dirty and cleaning back up the growth takes place...sometimes so gradual that we don't even notice.  then...suddenly...one day...the petals fall open and reveal the beautiful fruit of our labor.  
and there they are...our children...stretched high on delicate stem, reaching up towards the Light that drew them from the ground. 

on thursday night i spoke at a beautiful women's event in south carolina.  i encouraged each lady there to: (1) let God's story be your story and (2) share your stories with others.  this is really the whole reason i blog...to help me see God in stories like this one and to let others in on the gift of that vision.

the women at ebenezer baptist were so amazing.  they were opening up and sharing right then and there.  i had the privilege of hearing bits and pieces of many of their stories and i walked away inspired.  if you ever want to share a story with us here at 'words and wonder' please leave a comment or shoot me an email.  i would be honored to share this platform with you.