Once upon a time I was a young woman without any children. Even though I was single and childless, I just knew how I was going to raise my children. I knew what I was going to do and what I wasn’t going to do and the exact type of mother I would be to my imaginary future children. I knew how I’d discipline and how my children would behave. I knew all the answers. I would NOT be that mom with those children.
Isn’t it funny how inexperience makes you feel like an expert?
Then I actually became a parent.
Suddenly it wasn’t so easy to do all those things that I’d known I’d do so well beforehand.
Three children and a pregnancy into this parenting game, and I’ve learned a few lessons about putting my foot in my mouth and eating humble pie. I’ve learned that this parenting gig is HARD and that I certainly do not have all the answers. Sometimes I don’t have any of them.
My children did have meltdowns.
I did lose my temper.
I have had times when I simply couldn’t figure out what to do.
Moments after the birth of my first child, the floodgates of parenting opened and I began to feel the difficulty that can come while trudging forward in that ever deepening pool of unanswered questions and parental doubt.
Would I breastfeed or use formula?
Would I cloth diaper or use disposables?
Would I cosleep or put my baby in a crib?
Each step in the pool and each additional child sunk my confidence a little bit lower.
What was the “right” way to discipline my children?
What if I don’t feed them all the right foods all the time?
What if I’m being too strict? Too lenient?
What if I’m doing it ALL wrong?
Sink. Sink. Sink.
When you’re chest deep in this sludge and there are little eyes watching you, it can be very easy to just want to raise up the white flag and surrender. The sheer weight that comes from the responsibility of raising children is enough to make the strongest parent’s knees buckle. It is overwhelming and if we aren’t careful, it can be consuming. I allowed my guilt and insecurity to reign over me and I succumbed to defeat. “Why?” I asked God. “Why am I so bad at this when I want so much to be great? My kids deserve better than me.”
The important thing that I had forgotten while down there in the muck was that I was never meant to be that perfect mother I’d envisioned.
I have flaws—many of them. I can’t hide a single one of them from God and yet he still gave these children to me. He trusted me to carry them, birth them, nurture them, teach them, and train them up in the way they should go. He did this not BECAUSE of me, but IN SPITE of me.
He wants to show me how I need to hit my knees even more look to HIM to help me and guide me. He wants me to remember that when I’m weak, He is strong.
I was right that I can’t raise these three (almost four) children of mine on my own, with my own wisdom, but I can do it if I lean on the Lord to help me.
I will absolutely stumble and make mistakes, but if I turn to Him during those times, I’ll be showing my children just WHY we need a Savior–because we all fall short. Isn’t that the most important job we have as parents? To lead our children to Him?
There isn’t a parent alive that has all the answers. Raising children is far too complex for a one size fits all approach. We can remember that there IS an instruction manual though–the Bible–and if we rely on it and it’s Author, we’ll have a firm foundation.
Dusty is a stay at home mother of three who is expecting her fourth child this summer! She has been married to the love of her life for nearly 8 years and is trying to figure out her own path while devouring chocolate and leaning on the Lord. She blogs about homeschooling, homemaking, motherhood, and faith at To the Moon and Back