It took me years, but I’m beginning to understand the phrase, “The older I get, the less I know.”
Right out of college, I was hired as a high school youth director (pastor) and let me tell you, I was “good.” I knew what I was doing. I mean, I took four years of university classes on how to connect and mentor teens and I specifically categorized tips to use for all my talks and suggestions to tell those struggling parents, so that gives me all the wisdom in the world, right?.
I then carried that same knowledge and experience into my early years of parenting. Shouldn’t an expensive degrees in Christian Education, Youth Ministry and Psychology pave the parenting way?
With four children in five years, our little stair steps kiddos were the “picture perfect poster children” of my “good parenting skills.”
(Insert rip roaring belly laughter now at the extreme irony of all my “knowledge.”)
Oh my, what was I thinking?
It soon became obvious that I had no idea whose kids these were. Certainly not the ones on paper. They developed their own strong wills and sets of lungs. Their complacent personalities went out the window and all my book smarts didn’t do me a lick of good.
How could they all be so different? What worked with one, didn’t work with the other. Were there even books that taught me how to “work” them?
That was nearly 20 years ago. Those four stair steps leaped into teenagers. Our boy men are 19, 18, 16, and our daughters are 14 and 10, and I am one exhausted mother, but I am present, and I don’t mean in just the physical way. I mean present emotionally, even when they don’t want me to be, but it’s amazing how slowly but surely, they welcome the input.
There are still days when I want to wake up, tell them I love them more than anything in the whole wide world and let that be enough.
Some days, that is all one can muster, but words can’t be enough everyday. It’s time consuming and draining to be available and present on a regular basis, but what a privilege.
There’s another thing I didn’t realize when my children were young. I really thought that if I “dotted my i’s and crossed the t’s” on my mothering chart, my kids would be these wonderfully compliant children voicing “Yes, ma’am” with a happy heart each and every time, and for the first few years, I thought it worked.
Yes, I had the mothering thing down.
But then one day I yelled.
I mean really yelled. Not just raise my voice a little like on the playground kind of yell, but I totally lost my cool. I was beyond angry at their choices, and it shook me to the core because everything I thought I knew when I was a youth director, including the fact that I would never yell at my children ever, flew out the window.
I didn’t have an answer. In the midst of my frustration, I blew it. I didn’t know how to handle the situation and for the first time I wondered how I could be SO incredibly frustrated, angry, and ticked at a child and yet love them so much at the same time.
Afterwards, I knew what I had to do.
I went to him, looked him in the eyes, grabbed him in a bear hug and uttered, “I’m so sorry. I’m not always going to get this mom thing right and this time I really messed up. Will you accept my apology?”
It’s OK to admit you don’t have the answers. It’s definitely not a sign of weakness. It takes a strong woman to admit that and honestly, there’s such freedom to admit, “I don’t have a clue what I am doing right now. ”
It’s OK to reach out for help and surround yourself with wise women who’ve gone before you.
They will tell you.
Do you understand how critical it is for your children to really hear you admit when you are wrong or that you don’t always get it right the first time?
They need to understand that you mean it in a deep down, heart felt way.
For many, that is a scar that still wounds, even into adulthood. They never heard their parents tell them they were sorry or admit they were wrong.
I’ve addressed, “The Five Languages of an Apology” in a past post and highly recommend that you read it. It’s revolutionary.
As parents, we mess up. We make mistakes. We fail and if we pretend that we don’t, we do our children a huge disservice.
Cultivating a heart of forgiveness in our children begins with the modeling that occurs in the home, and it’s an incredibly important step in fully teaching our children to apologize.
(You can read about some of my creative discipline techniques in that post, and it still works wonders.)
As I’ve grown in my mothering, I’ve realized just how much I don’t know, and it’s OK to admit that to my kids. It took all my “book sense” to fly right out the window before the Lord had me right where He wanted me – broken, humbled and realizing that He is the only one who can be the perfect parent.
When I am at that point, divine intervention often occurrs in the midst of those mothering moments when I need His wisdom the most. And trust me, I beg Him for wisdom repeatedly.
I’m so glad that He knows our children better than we ever will. He shows up and gives us exactly what we need when we are available and teachable.
All we have to do is ask.