The Parent Screw Up

I believe most parents do their best. Really. They want their kids to be happy and successful and to turn out ok. They love their kids. Most parents really do.

And most parents screw it up royally. Like me. Our son is two and we have another on the way. Most days I’m excited, but more than occasionally, I’m terrified. Why? Because mine is the son that escapes me at the grocery store, initiating a yell and a chase and resulting in a straitjacket hold if I can catch him and pin him against my pregnant self. You know… the “spirited” boy.

"Spirited" Child

…He really is cute though. I’m just saying. Yesterday he put on a stern toddler face hiding a smile and told Lyle, “Not funny. Not funny, Daddy.” A charmer. A defiant charmer.

I am in such trouble.

And I read all the parenting blogs that tell me I’m a good one, that shout “No more Mommy Wars!” and encourage parents that they can choose breastfeeding or formula or co-sleeping or cry-it-out or homeschool or spanking or emotional spoon-feeding and still succeed as a child-raiser.

And that sounds good to me. I want you to support one another and be peaceful amongst yourselves.

But I still want to do it better than you.

In fact, I want to do parenting better than anyone in the history of ever, because I can’t think of anything more critical in this life than healthy, happy, successful family relationships. It’s one of the things I care the most about and I just know deep in myself that if families were fixed, nearly everything would be fixed as a byproduct. So naturally, my family must be perfect, and I must be the perfect mother. Sorry Lyle, you are also required to be the perfect husband and father. It’s like you won the lottery! {Ok, you are seriously not perfect, but you are pretty amazing. Keep up the good work}.

So now that I’ve established the good rapport and trust of telling you I want to be better than you, don’t you want to read about the things I’ve learned? Well, I think you will be glad you did because it involves me crying in public-ish {again}. You’ll like that, won’t you?

I was in church this week on a Wednesday evening and silently reflecting as the music roared around me. I may have been the only one not singing. But I was tired. And God doesn’t want me to yell just to yell. There are lots of ways to praise him.

I want to please God as a parent, and that was on my mind. I thought of my son’s defiance and my inability to control him {don’t lie, you wish you could control your kid to some extent… don’t you?}. I considered what I had read about shepherding his little heart to honor God, and how to model God’s love to him in Biblical ways. I was slightly choked up because even though an ugly part of me is selfish and wants to be “perfect,” I really do want to do my very best to unselfishly love my son and honor my Lord.

All this was reeling in my brain when a song began that said, “Jesus, Jesus, all I want is to be like you.”

Isn’t that the best way to raise a family anyway? So I sang it out. And in my heart, God spoke… “There is nothing you can do to screw up your kid bad enough that I can’t fix it.” And I cried a little.

I lifted my head to see right in front of me, my beautiful friend Laura. Laura has shared with me pieces of her messy family history. She has journeyed through and continues to climb up and out of the muck. And there she was, praising God. Her parents made some pretty big mistakes, but God has helped her put together broken pieces and has kissed all her wounds the way only Daddy can.

I cried a little more.

Next to Laura, her tender teenage daughter stood, arms raised and singing out with a full heart because God creates new legacies for seekers and breaks chains of the past. Her grandparents treated her mother poorly – What did that have to do with her? Why should that pass through the generations?

I wailed.

By my side, my dear amazing blessing of a partner in life sang out to God, who saved him from a legacy of divorce after divorce after divorce… of alcoholism and affairs… of promiscuity. His life could be so different.

But God redeems.

When I don’t know what to do when my boy cries for eternity because I corrected him in the middle of Kohl’s and I imagine all the eyes and ears around me and even my own are focused on how NOT PERFECT I am at this and I don’t know what EXACT THING OUT OF ALL THE THINGS I’m supposed to be doing in this moment…

God redeems.

“Do your best, and let God take care of the rest.” Yep, got that one from helping out at Vacation Bible School this summer. 🙂 Simple truths…

I’ll keep trying to be the mommy my kiddos need to the best of my ability. But in the end, I’ll remember God can fix it all. And my prayer will be, “Jesus, Jesus, all I want is to be like you.”

Have you ever felt like a parenting screw up? What “simple truths” did you hold onto?


About Carolyn Nelson

Just trying to spread a little grace. I am in love with 4 boys (married to one, mother to three), and I think you're stinkin' awesome.
This entry was posted in Charming Charlie, Just Sayin', Our Life, Things We Have Learned and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to The Parent Screw Up

  1. Thank you so much for sharing that! You are a very good Mom. It is true God can fix it. … and continue to give you wisdom….
    It comforts me to know that you understand that 🙂

  2. Michelle Hall says:

    My dear, you are such a treasure. You are a fantastic mother, a loving wife, and a truly amazing woman of God (just to name a few). Your writings always inspire me and ring so much truth in my heart. I am so glad we aren’t perfect people. Think about how boring that would be. You have an incredible heart, and I pray that the enemy stays out of your head so that you can continue to use that precious gift (one of many) that you’ve been given for His glory.

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