Parenting well, is hopeless at the best of times. This is something, that after over six years on the job, I can state with certainty.
And these aren’t really the best of times.
The other morning as I was getting ready upstairs, my morning rituals were interrupted with screaming and crying from the play room. For the most part my boys enjoy playing with each other, their closeness in age and this past summer’s events have drawn them together tightly; but they are brothers and will fight as passionately as they love.
As I listened to their words and accusations, I was immediately struck by one thought: I need more love and grace in my relationship with my boys. The conviction of that thought was instantaneous, and there was no hesitation in my guilt.
Now I don’t believe that every bad thing that my children do is all my fault, but I know that my example and my attitude bear a lot of weight. I have the influence to set the tone in our home, and the power to change it as well. Even when I think that I am hiding my feelings, it amazes me at how Emmett and Benjamin will pick up on my impatience, indifference, or intolerance. And, whether they realize it or not, then turn around and demonstrate those emotions to each other. It devastates me to watch them hurt one another; and I realize it is often I that has taught them the undesirable skills of how to best do that.
Then I am struck with equal parts frustration and exhaustion. Wondering how am I supposed to do this on my own. As it is a two man job; two very strong, well-paired, healthy, rested “men”. Cue the flood of overwhelming inadequacy while I allow myself a momentary pity party.
Next I thank God for everything He has given me and I go downstairs. I get on my knees, I hug my boys, and through tears I humbly apologize for my example. I remind them that this is not the way that we treat people. We may even brainstorm better ideas and solutions to the woes of that moment.
Lastly, we take turns forgiving each other, and THAT is when the hope comes.