Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Better From Above

Today was one of those days where I was pulling into the sitter's driveway, both boys were standing in her front window, grinning and waving enthusiastically. My heart soared, so proud to call them mine, so happy to rush inside and scoop them up in my arms. Then I got inside and heard how one got two time outs for hair pulling, while the other jumped on my back without warning me first, so that I [embarrassingly] fell over, my legs knocked out from under me both literally and figuratively, and I wanted to get back in my car and just drive far, far away. Instead I smiled and nodded and apologized and slunk to the car, wiping away hot tears.

A few months ago, I was emailing with a co-worker about parenting. He confessed that he felt like he wasn't very good at this parenting thing. I confessed back that every single night, I pray to be a better parent and I feel like it never comes true. Maybe it isn't supposed to come true, I don't know. Maybe if we were all perfect, if our kids were always dressed well and clean and never ate candy at breakfast time, we'd become complacent. I question sometimes why Tommy has seizures and why Luke's worst behavior is always in front of other people and why Tommy lately thinks hair pulling is the best, most fun thing ever, but maybe it's like this to teach me to appreciate the little boy who didn't make a peep on a three hour airplane ride this summer, who most often sits through restaurant meals like an angel. To appreciate the fragility of life and the even littler boy who looked at his ridiculous crying mama, put his head on her shoulder and patted her back with the gentlest of touches. And maybe, just maybe, I'm not as bad as I think I am. Maybe someone bigger than me, someone better than me, knows I try to do my very best and that sometimes I fail and that's okay.
My friend's confession floored me, though, because he has five daughters. The oldest has lived in Heaven since she was 7 and he speaks of her with such pride (and how she must look down on him with pride of her own). His four younger girls are some of the most beautiful, well-rounded teenagers I've ever met. If ever anyone should be confident in parenting skills, it should be him.

But he isn't. And neither am I. And probably, neither are you. I wonder sometimes why my prayers aren't answered, why I don't feel confident, why on earth I've been entrusted to be so much for these two boys, but then, don't things always look better from above?


Cameron said...

Sweet girl, you *are* better than you think. :)

And I *know* that I'm not a parent and I *know* that I don't know Luke, but is there a chance that he's an introvert? Does he tend to act out in public more after he's been in public for a while? Every Christmas I manage to make an ass out of myself sooner or later because 12 straight hours of playing games with Jason's family? The inner introvert in me comes out and I can... well, let's just say that I have a tendency to act out in ways I normally NEVER would. Maybe I'm just relating to him. :)

HUGS to you. :)

Zakary said...


I only work part-time and I am not even close to having it together. I feel so terribly guilty when they are finally in bed and I have some time to myself because sometimes I just get down right angry that they need me to get this and get that and where's my backpack and they pull my hair too.

It's hard. It's hard to admit that it's hard. I wish I had some advice, but for what it's worth, I think you kick ass.

Kaycee said...

This post speaks to me so much. I just spent 45 minutes getting my 2.5 year old to bed. I am currently thinking I am the worst parent ever. I am trying. Trying. Thinking I am doing what's best. But then I listen to her crying and me not going in there immediately because she made bad choices (and she is old enough and smart enough to understand she made bad choices - she needs to know those have consequences) and I gave her what was probably too many chances first before putting my foot down and then I swore I was not going back in there and then my heart broke and I did. Who decided I could be a parent and teach this child? Teach her patience when I seem to have none. Teach her to talk nicely when too often lately I don't. I guess about the only thing I feel like I am doing right lately is that we say I love you - a lot. Sigh.

And how come we always feel like it's our fault somehow and our parenting is the cause when they misbehave at daycare? I hate that. Or maybe that's just me. But I always have an instant guilt come over me and I wonder what I am doing wrong with her and how I can fix it. When really I can't fix it AT daycare because I am not there.

InTheFastLane said...

My husband says he is a much better parent to the kids he teaches than when he gets home at night.

And also, this parenting thing? I don't think we can ever master it and it is only by grace that we get through it the best we can.

Crooked Eyebrow said...

I always feel like I am 3 steps behind where I need to be. ALWAYS.I , too, don't feel as if I am the best parent I can be all the time. Sometimes I lose my patience, some times I shout, sometimes I let my frustrations at homework time show just as much as my 10 year old does.

Those moments...happen. I may not be the best parent, but I love my babies so very much and I always try my hardest and ask for more strength the next day.

Some days parenting is like bright yummy skittles. All nice and sweet, and some days it's like old, stale peanut brittle. Crumbly, hard, nasty.

I love you, your boys and I think you are not only a great woman, friend, but an amazing mother who needs to breathe and give herself a little bit of a break. You deserve it.


Anonymous said...

After this many years, I'm still waiting for the fairy of good parenting to impart all wisdom and understanding! So...shake the dust, mama!

"All that pushes and pulls, pushes and pulls for you. So grab this world by its clothespins and shake it out again and again and jump on top and take it for a spin and when you hop off shake it again for this is yours."

Unknown said...

This post makes me feel so much better about the doubts I have about my own parenting skills (or lack thereof...). It's always nice to know that we are not alone in our feelings, especially the harder ones.

You and your boys are "perfect" in your own way. And you are a good Mom and MEANT to be their Mom. Thank God. :)

E said...

Great post...you are not alone. God does answer prayers, always...it's either: yes, no or later.

Hugs to you.

keli [at] kidnapped by suburbia said...

dang, erin. i'm just sitting here drinking my fanta orange and eating tangy carolina bbq potato chips ... and then WHAM. a post that punches me in the chest. almost knocks me over. wow.

i think you and i have discussed who is a worst parent (and it was agreed that we're both awesome with sucky moments) but i just sat here and said YES about a million times.

and then i read CE's comment and just decided to say "yeah, that."

Jen said...

The fact that those boys were so excited to see you and waiting for you proves how great a parent you are.

I loved this post. I sometimes find myself surrounded by moms who only talk about the ups of parenting and that makes me feel inadequate. The reality is, there is no perfect parent and we can always strive to be better. I don't know you, but I have a feeling that even if you did do all the things that you now think will make you the parent you want to be, you'll find new things that you want to do/be.

Motherhood is so difficult. It's not something they tell you - just like marriage is hard. You find out on your own and you do it your own way. And that's what makes you a great parent. Your kids are loved, fed, taken care of, hugged, kissed - isn't that what's the most important? It's frustrating when they act out and it's frustrating when you respond a way you wish you hadn't - but that's parenting. Kids are going to have their moments. You'll get through it and realize that you are a much, much better mother than you give yourself credit for.

Smiles, hugs, and I love you's say it all.