Friday, September 20, 2019

Parenting is hard. That is all...

Parenting is the hardest thing I have ever done. Most days, I second guess myself, question if I handled this, that, or the other the right way. Am I holding in a healthy amount of tension both play and structure, responsibility and fair expectations? Are we offering a nutritional enough diet or will they be 18 and still eating chicken nuggets and refusing to do more than lick a vegetable and claim they tried it? Are we pushing them too hard with extracurriculars or are we not offering enough opportunities to develop as both athletes and artists? Is my anger and agitation getting the best of me...and them? How are they doing in school? Is it the right school?

Are they learning that loving-kindness is what really is to shape their life? Are we, as parents, modeling the same in how we treat one another and them as our children? Do we model grace and forgiveness and compassion? Will they look back on their childhood and have fond memories of love and laughter and a home that is, as my wife says, "a safe place to land?"  

Is faith formation in our family and church offering them space to encounter both God's love for them and an inclusive love for all people? Are we allowing them space for questions versus offering pat answers? Do we expose them to the right amount of social realities so they develop empathy for their neighbors near and far or are we isolating them too much? 

Are these questions primarily of privilege? 

As parents of four little ones eight and under, every day feels like a (half) marathon. There are moments where I feel we are at a good pace, our breathing is right, the strides are strong, and we may even have some supporters on either side of us telling us we are doing great- and this carries me. Then there are times when I feel like I am running up hill, my legs are heavy, my strides are off, my breathing is strained, my cell phone battery is nearly dead and so I run in silence and without a GPS (happened for real the other day), and the crowds are gone. This is when I feel a bit alone, as I push it up that last hill on mile 11, wondering if I need to stop and walk the remainder of the route, will I even complete it at all? 

Then I bust through the wall and remember, as my daughter once said as she braved herself to climb the monkey bars for the first time (unaware her biggest fan was watching), "I can do this. I can do this. I can do this."

Yes, I can do this. You can do this. We can do this. 

And parenting is neither a race nor performance. Do the best you can, remembering if at the end of the day your kids have been assured they are loved to love as high as they can count plus one, that will be enough. It will help them to offer the same to others, like when they hold their little sister's hand as her puppy purse is draped over his shoulder on a family run. This love, although surrounded by a fair share of anxiety and insecurity, may even help them reduce their own budding anxieties from classroom to choir, baseball field to art class. They may see all the more clearly they are God's and your beloved because they are, without exception or condition. 

Remind me of this on Monday, family, because it is Friday and the weekends are hard.