It's funny how when you are pregnant, you feel like you have everything figured out: this is HOW you are going to parent. This is the method you are going to use. This is how your children are going to turn out.
Then your kid turns two. And you realize your whole parenting philosophy is quickly going to hell in a hand basket. I'm sure those of you who have older children (as in older than two) can shed some light on this, as well... I can't even imagine the teen years.
It's tough. These days the stakes are really high to be the picture perfect Pinterest parent.
I've read my fair share of parenting books, and mom blogs. I'm going to be honest here, friends. It's discouraging. On one hand I feel like if I am not holding my baby AT ALL TIMES, breastfeeding around the clock, cloth diapering, and pureeing organic baby food for every meal than I have failed as a nurturing parent. On the the other hand, I feel like if I don't instill discipline, teach them how to sleep, and put them in public school than I am just raising selfish little mongers that think the world revolves around them.
Friends, I'm sick of it. Sick of the "So-and-so Art of Parenting." Sick of the attached/detached idealist (read: unrealistic) forms of parenting.
I'm not going to lie; I get sucked into the parenting world. I read the articles, the books, the blog posts; like I am going to uncover life's long lost parenting secret. But those formulas never work. Ever. Each and every time they fail miserable.
Want some more honesty? I worked myself up so much about how I need to parent, what decisions I need to make for them, what plan I need to follow, that it started to affect my health and my marriage. I was a nervous wreck that if I laid my baby down and let her cry for a few minutes that I would undue all the love and attention I have already poured into and invested in her.
Friends, I burnt myself out. I'm pretty sure that I learn EVERYTHING the hard way.
Then God spoke gently to my heart as He always does when I am unraveling. Who is the authority on parenting? He is.
Here's the thing, friends. We can read every parenting book out there. We can subscribe to every mom blog. We can take seminars on parenting. We can glean wisdom from those who have gone before us (and that may even be wise). BUT the truth stays the same: God in all His infinite wisdom and glory is the ultimate authority on parenting. After all, he knit these sweet little souls in our womb. They are individuals. These children are complex. He knows their innermost being and what kind of parenting they need. There is absolutely nothing wrong with asking for wisdom or counsel as a parent. In fact, I would encourage it. But, at the end of the day, God remains. All our striving means nothing unless we surrender what WE think our children need and lay it at His feet and press into what HE HAS FOR THEM. What He has for them is far greater, and more beautiful than anything we could ever contrive on our own. This concept seems unimaginable to me because I love my children SO much, but Jesus actually loves them more. Mind blowing. But, it is the truth.
Now, let me clarify something here. I don't think it is wrong if you identify with a particular form of parenting. I don't think it's wrong to read parenting books. I don't think it's wrong to seek wisdom and knowledge.
What I do think is wrong is exasperating yourself as a parent and loosing what is important in order to identify with a particular form of parenting. What I do know is wrong is allowing other people to put you under so much pressure, that the weight of it all causes you to have near anxiety attacks.
Love Jesus. Love your children. Love yourself. And give yourself and your children lots of grace. Fall flat on your face every day if you need to. Press in. Jesus is there. Jesus isn't there ready to shame you for not being a perfect parent. He's there to embrace you and guide you.
So, I raise my highly caffeinated drink (the one the keeps me awake) to you and say HERE IS TO BEING A PERFECTLY IMPERFECT PARENT... and losing our self in grace and love for ourselves and our children.
P.S. Yes, I know I have opened a can of worms... BE NICE in the comments, please. We are all learning together, right?