Part of a prayer book I’m reading says to write a letter that confesses your fears and joys of parenting. Experiences, I suppose,of what you’re feeling in the moment. Some days I feel like I’m present and that I’m at least doing the basics but here lately I’d say at least over the last 6 months if I’m not yelling then I’m extremely frustrated. Micah may not remember this stage-thank God- as he’s a baby but Ari probably thinks I don’t like her or that everything she does is wrong or that I’m mad at her all of the time. It’s a mixture of so many different emotions.
I feel like there are so many different stages of the reality of parenting and when you hit that you stage you spend a certain period of time wondering how long you’re going to be in that stage. (i.e. how long am I going to have to keep telling them to clean up after themselves? Like this has been going on since they were 2? They’re 11 & 14). I have very smart, funny, loving kids. There are some days and some moments in very hard days where they really make me laugh with something they say or do. While Sam doesn’t live with me during the school year, it’s nice to get to face time her and get to hear about her day or listen to funny stories that she tells. Her sense of humor is really quirky. Ari is over the top melodramatic. All of the time. But she’s also really sweet, helpful, and way more self sufficient than even I realize at times. She can cook, clean, do her hair, do her laundry, and get herself off to school. Pretty good for a middle schooler. Micah is still a little person and requires a lot of attention, but he, too, is making his way towards independence. My number one thing I’ll be glad for him to learn how to do is use the toilet!
But in all of those things that I can see right now in my head as I am writing, they aren’t what’s seen in day to day life. It’s the frustrations of repeating the same things over and over again. Asking the same questions that you asked a few moments ago because you’ve given directions but nobody has done what you’ve asked. Repeating the same rules. If anyone lives in their house with a master negotiator like Ari then you get it. It’s exhausting to have to constantly repeat no because she will creatively ask the same question in a different format. So I find myself yelling a lot more than I used to and she feels that. She even says “please don’t yell” before asking a question sometimes and that kind of makes me wince. Which then puts me in a head space of man I suck!
Honestly sometimes our response to our kids is not about them or something they’ve done. Sometimes it’s more about us and the stressors we are carrying around. Being an adult is difficult. There are mounds of bills to pay on a monthly basis-watch out for the unexpected ones. We are balancing work and the high demands of the job, friendships, along with marriage or significant others.Volunteering in ministry or giving our time elsewhere. Then we have to make time for ourselves- How? Where’s that extra time coming from? Along with trying to care for and manage these little people who come with their own set of problems, illnesses, friendships, extracurricular activities, jobs, feelings, and needs. It’s a lot for all parties involved. And sometimes we are already on the brink of losing it then something our kid says or does sends us over the edge. Doesn’t make it right but it happens. I can tell you in most situations that what’s been happening with my yelling episodes.
As I’ve come to recognize that, I’ve gotten better at taking the time to take a deep breath and go- Ok don’t do this or fix this or change that- in a much calmer tone. I am better able to communicate with my kids because I am recognizing where the source of my frustration is coming from. That’s not to say that sometimes they aren’t the source! Hello! All parents know that at times they are the main source. I have had to send myself to my own room for a time out on behalf of my kids LOL. But this is just a reminder that sometimes we miss the beauty in our kids and in parenting because we are letting outside things affect our mood and set the atmosphere in our home. What could potentially be a great teaching moment turns into us being angry and the child being sad or frustrated because of misplaced feelings. We’ve all done it. We’re all learning, no matter what stage of parenting we are in.
Just be grateful for God’s grace because kids are resilient and forgiving beings. They continue to love us even when we are less than favorable towards them or unfair at times. I thank God for that! At the end of the day if you’re like me, you’re just praying to God that the little people He has blessed you with will continue to grow into the amazing people you’ve been praying and trying to shape them into.