Monday, March 25, 2013

my parent report card

if i were grading myself as a mom today i would give myself a C-.  that's not good for a studious achievement-oriented gal like me.

at least the day wasn't an absolute failure.  i did manage to keep both kids fed, clothed, and sheltered from this unseasonably cold and windy spring day.  i also did not inflict any physical harm on either one of them...but emotional harm is another story.

on days like this...days when i wake up with paper-thin patience and they wake up with sharp needles of whining and arguing poking right through it, i wonder what an outside observer would think of me - would think of my family.  

i actually laughed out loud in the car after an episode that involved slamming on the brakes, a 'death look', finger pointing, and harsh words.  after i composed myself and apologized, i actually laughed out loud.  i was imagining someone rolling video footage of that episode as i walked on stage at the parenting event i will be speaking at next month.
who am i to speak to other parents about parenting?  i mean...on a day like today i guess i could give a pretty good bullet-point presentation on how to make your kids feel really rotten about themselves.  i could outline how to throw a grown-up temper tantrum to outdo your preschooler.

but don't you love how parenting under God's grace is like having a teacher who allows for make-up who gives you a chance for bonus points to keep you from being a big fat failure?
when oliver went down for his nap this afternoon i had a list of things to accomplish.  one of those things was making banana pudding for my brother's birthday dinner tonight.  i knew lucy wanted to help.  i also knew that asking her to help would double the amount of time it would take to complete that particular task.  as she was playing quietly in her room for the first time today i began taking out the ingredients.  as i poured the milk into my big mixing bowl i sensed what felt like an elbow jab in my side and someone whispering 'ask her to join you'.

i reluctantly called her down from upstairs and she came barreling down with a big grin on her face.  she washed her hands, grabbed her stool and parked herself next to me at the counter.  for the next 20 minutes tiny loving, laughing stitches pulled us tight back together.  we talked and giggled and licked spoons until we didn't feel miles apart anymore.  
sometimes as a parent i flunk the test.  i feel like my day is one big red "x" mark after another...another pointed finger, another eye roll, another opportunity for gentle discipline replaced instead with harsh punishment.  i just can't get anything right!

and then i remember that necklace that hangs like a life preserver around my neck...
and by grace alone i resolve to take a step in a different direction.  i make the decision  to put in a little extra energy, a little extra time for make-up work.  and suddenly i feel like i've just received a shiny gold star on the top of the page.  it's like all those red marks begin to fade away.

parenting is never easy and there are some tests that i find more difficult than others.  
then sometimes i get results i don't deserve...results i couldn't earn on my own.

later this afternoon after the banana pudding was made and lucy was back to her quiet play, i walked upstairs to finish some laundry.  as i passed oliver's room i saw something hanging on his door.  i can't explain exactly why i knelt down and began to cry.  i think it had something to do with the fact that i glimpsed the precious spirit that is growing inside my daughter despite my repeated failure as her mother.

lucy had taped up a little sign with oliver's name written on it.  i have never seen her write anything other than her own name without my help before.  usually she asks me to spell anything she writes.  she had done this one all by herself and carefully secured it to her brother's door while he slept.  when he woke to find it he hugged her tight in thanks.
did you notice all the shiny stars?

regardless of how many red marks you have racked up this day i pray that by grace alone you will receive the gold star you didn't earn...and be brought to tears with thanksgiving.