I can’t be just a good mom. I have to be a great one. My kids deserve the best. But some days….man oh man. They really know how to pull all my strings at once until I’m tied up and strung out at the same time. It’s exhausting being a parent. We’re always expected to be the “bigger person”. To know what’s up and have a plan. I hate always having to be in charge but I hate feeling like I’m not in charge with equal passion. I never feel fully qualified for this job.
My youngest son is adorable. He’s snuggly and soft and he smells good. I love giving him kisses and noseling him. He is also the first one to ask for snuggles. I often feel guilty being affectionate with him in front of the others. I feel like they could easily be jealous, but it’s so natural to snuggle my baby.
Corban asks for snuggles too, but rarely. I also know that because of his ADHD, he is prone to feeling rejected. So, if he asks, I move mountains to show him affection. But he also has that ridiculous “fairness” streak. So anytime I show affection or preferential treatment to one of his siblings, he is quick to say “where is mine?”. It can be impossible to balance the playing field in his eyes.
Avy is the only girl, and the middle child. She’s a people pleaser, a hard-worker and often the most logical when it comes to fairness. She can usually remove her emotions from a situation and look at things objectively. Therefore, she often gets the short end of the stick. The greasy wheel gets the grease and she doesn’t squeak much. Even when she does, I can usually explain to her that I’m trying to do my best and she reluctantly backs down. It breaks my heart. I try to compensate for giving her the scraps by going out of my way to compliment her and trying desperately to carve out special time with her. But I know it’s never enough.
I feel like a failure so often. I adore my kids, but truly taking care of them…their emotional, physical and spiritual needs is exhausting. I refuse to half-ass it and when I find myself doing less than my very best, I feel like a heel.
This is the part where I’m supposed to say that Jesus is more than enough for me and I need to rely on Him to give me the strength I need. Yes, of course. But Jesus wasn’t a parent. I can’t look at His time on earth as example of how to balance my own needs with those of my childrens’. How to give myself grace when I’m too firm or not firm enough. Or how much time I should be spending with each of my beloved children compared to ministering to others. I would have loved to have run into Jesus at the playground with His kids and talked shop. How does He handle the bedtime routine? How does he coax His children out of bed in the morning? What are His tried and true methods to get kids to behave at dinner time? How does He make time to teach them daily life skills? What are His favorite Bible verses for kids?
I do often pray things like this in passing. “God, help me get these kids to bed without yelling”. “Lord, I pray today’s devotional time with the kids would be meaningful”. “Lord….what am I supposed to do here?”. I do seek God’s advice and blessing on my parenting. But I don’t do it enough….
I’ve consulted parenting books. I regularly read blogs on ADHD, and strong-willed children. I spent a great deal of time watching Super Nanny videos when my kids were little. I’m not afraid to ask for help from the experts. But not enough…
There is never enough time. Never enough patience. Never enough rest or grace, or wisdom. This job is too hard. Too important. Too intense. Requires too much. And I often want to quit.
I can’t simply will myself to do better. I know where I’m failing. I understand my lack. But that doesn’t mean I can change it. The only thing certain is that these kids will continue to change. Every time I feel like I have a leg up and I’m knocking it out of the park, they will change. Their needs will change, their attitudes adjust and I will no longer be on top of it. I will always feel like a failure because I will never succeed 100% of the time at this gig. There will be victories along the way, but they will be peppered with defeats. And those defeats will sting. Because not only will they lay bare my failures, but they will expose the ways I’ve injured the ones I love more than anyone.
It’s incredibly depressing. To be signed up for this trial I can never really win. But then. I remember. There is no one I feel could do a better job. I don’t have some magical list of moms that are perfect parents. There are no kids that I envy. There are certain things that other moms do better, but not all the things. Not the specific things my specific kids need. My kids are complicated. But I get them. I may not be able to give them everything they need, but I see their needs. I understand them. Even if I can’t provide the perfect mom for them in all situations, I have the best grasp on who that perfect mom would be. She doesn’t exist.
Does anyone love my kids more than me? Nope. Would anyone else put up with Micah’s constant “mommy look!”? Probably not. Or appreciate Corban’s drawings of swords? Would anyone else see that Avynlea really wishes she could let things roll of her back? Would anyone else be as proud of them for standing up to that bully at the playground together? Or would anyone else be willing to read the same Junie B. Jones book 100 times, and do all the voices? Maybe, Junie B is pretty excellent.
I may not be as amazing as some non-existent competition. But I’d say most of my faults are that I care too much. I’m putting too much pressure on myself. I need to accept that failing on some things doesn’t mean I failed overall. This job is too important to entrust to anyone else. I accept responsibility for the task before me. And I do believe that God chose me for this job. He appointed me to mother these kiddos. He believes in me and is with me as I fail and succeed. It is my job to do my best. To give too much and have it never be enough.
Photos by Marie Mclean Photography