Can Parenting be my Hard Place?
By Whitney Bausman
Can parenting be my hard place? When wombs are barren and cribs are empty and hearts are riddled with child-shaped holes. When disease and death steal innocence and the frivolity of youth. When others long for and beg for even a taste of the feast that has been set before me. When what I have been given is so clearly a gift…even if it often comes in tattered, snot-covered, Play-Doh-crusted wrapping paper. The answer? Well, the answer is a big-old, shout-it-from-the-rooftops YES.
God made me a mom about five years ago when He blessed me with the most inquisitive and perceptive little boy, and then saw fit to double the love when He gifted me with a nurturing, animal-loving daughter not even two years later. Hands down, Clark and Annie are two of my three most favorite people on Planet Earth. They are cuter-than-cute, sometimes really tender-hearted, and downright hilarious (ask anyone…), but they are also some of the strongest of strong-willed children I have ever laid eyes on. I’m talking super-human strength. They challenge everything that is asked of them, they voice their opinions loudly, and they make it known that if an idea isn’t their own, it’s simply not one worth entertaining. If you happen to find yourself in my neighborhood on a warm, spring day—a windows open kind of day—and are suddenly enveloped by the sounds of screaming as you walk past my home, don’t fret. It’s just bath time!
Most of the time, being my kids’ mom is awesome. Most of the time, I find myself wondering what I’ve done to deserve them and their always-giving, hunky Daddy. Most days, I send my husband texts thanking him for working so hard away from home so that I don’t have to…and most days, I find joy in silly, trivial things like making turkey-shaped muffins or all-green meals. Some days, though? Well, some days I send texts to Jonathan reading something more like:
SOS. Send ice cream. Send coffee. Send children who actually listen to their mother occasionally. Send all of the good juju you can muster, and be forewarned that as soon as you get home tonight I’m locking myself in our bedroom. Maybe forever.
While parenting my always-talking, always-moving, always-tyrannizing duo has certainly gifted me with a love that is stronger and more palpable than any other I’ve ever known, it has also shed light on lots of glaring flaws in my character. Being a mom has shown me what I am and what I certainly am not. Far less often than I am patient or tuned in to my children’s needs or truly gracious, I am impatient and distracted by my own to-do list and brought to a place of sheer anger.
So what do I do in the face of struggle as a parent? What do I do when this hard place of mine is REALLY-REALLY hard some days? I remember that while these children are certainly mine to nourish and mine to love and mine to guide…they are not mine to control. Even God—who breathed life into their little lungs and who knit their every cells together—has given them free will. Clark and Annie are not puppets on a string, nor would I want them to be. They are entities that are separate from my own, and as much as I would love it if learning and growing and maturation came easily around here, these things are hard-earned and S L O W L Y gained.
|This picture is closer to my parenting reality.|
Parenting is giving grace when it isn’t deserved. It’s loving without condition. It’s recognizing the big-picture worth in something that often feels fruitless in the short-term perspective. It’s God empowering me to respond with words of encouragement when what I’d really like to do is scream. It’s a Heavenly Father subtly and not-so-subtly reminding me that parenting ME doesn’t look all that different from parenting my own children. I’m flawed. I’m stubborn. I’m a fan of comfort. And…I’m sometimes super-difficult to get through to.
Parenting is the hardest place I have ever found myself in. It’s a revealing place, and a challenging place, and sometimes even an “I don’t know if we’ll all be alive when Daddy gets home” place. But you know what else it is? It’s a beautiful place. It’s a precious place. It’s a place that gives me joy and meaning and purpose…and even on the worst days (like the days spent cleaning fermented urine from toy boxes and breaking up 600 rounds of Sibling Smackdown), it’s my favorite place. It’s a place full of belly laughs and poorly-constructed bunk bed forts and playing ‘chicken’ with the honeybees while running barefoot through the backyard. It’s a place I thank God for each and every day.
To all of the parents out there who aren’t afraid to admit that even this most sacred of places can be holy-crap hard, I say this: What a gift we have been given.
WHITNEY BAUSMAN is a local mom and author. She is a full-time herder of two beautiful, funny, and infuriating children. She and her husband reside in York where they savor the beauty among the chaos. If you like what you’ve read today, hop on over to Amazon and grab a copy of Whitney’s latest work: “Herding Cats: The Chaotic, Exhausting, & Hilarious Task of Parenting Toddlers”.
Connect with Whitney:
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