Grace in parenting. We’ve been discussing that for a few weeks now. But what does that mean to me personally? Dr. Tim Kimmel gives great advice and steps on how to be better parents based on the grace model demonstrated by our heavenly Father. Yet I’m trying to really understand what that looks like in my day-to-day life.
I’ve been trying to understand the whole grace concept for a while now because one of my biggest pits I get into in my Christian walk is living defeated because of past mistakes. I let Satan use those things to keep me from being everything God wants me to be. This happens to me as a parent as well. I’m learning not only to extend grace to my children, but to extend grace to myself as well. I’m not supermom. And there are going to be bad days. It’s a fact of life.
I had such a day this week. I’ll try to put it into words, but as you will soon see, there really are no words for some of the days we experience. It started at 2:00 am. Any day that starts at 2am can’t be good. And any day that starts at 2am with your husband trying to catch a rat is sure to be a disaster. So I really shouldn’t have been surprised when all five of my kids woke up with an extreme case of the “Mondays.” Oh yeah, did I mention it was a Monday? And my “babies” are just three and four. How do they even know to be in a bad mood on Monday??? So, we’re supposed to leave for school at 8:30 and at 7:45 no one is even out of bed yet. I wake everyone up at 7:00, so this means I’ve been “politely asking” everyone to get up for 45 minutes now. I’m really trying to hold it together when my daughter informs me that she has a poster due today. All weekend to work on it and she waits until we have 30 minutes before we have to leave to tell me about it. Now it’s 8:00 and I’m rushing around looking for poster board and markers when I slip on the kitchen floor which is covered in milk. My four-year-old son has decided to fix himself a bowl of cereal despite the fact that he can’t reach the cereal. He’s forgotten the bowl and the full gallon of milk weigh about as much as he does. So, I’m sitting there in a pool of spilled milk and even though the pun here is very obvious and funny… I was not laughing! I look up to see a creamy, white waterfall cascading from the table and there is my son playing in it with his boat. Yes…he makes lemonade out of lemons every time. A trait I’ve been so thankful for, but at the moment I’m having a really hard time being grateful for his optimistic outlook on life.
Fast forward to bedtime which normally comes at 8:00 for the younger ones and 9:00 for the older ones, but today is 7:30 for all of them. Sometimes we just have to allow ourselves the grace to say, “Ok…today was really bad and I may have made a few mistakes, but it’s ok. Tomorrow is a new day full of opportunities to get it right.”
There will be bad days. Days where it seems like anything that can go wrong will go wrong. Days where the refrigerator and garbage disposal break at the same time and in the process of fixing them the hot water heater explodes, causing it to literally rain in the kids’ bathroom… I’m talking water coming from every vent and light fixture. Yes…that actually happened. And all we could do was clean it up and be thankful that nothing was permanently damaged and the bathroom got a floor to ceiling cleaning…literally.
These days happen and even if we don’t react the way we should or be the greatest example of grace-filled parents in those moments…they don’t define us as parents. We know that tomorrow will probably be filled with just as many trials and tribulations as the day before, but we wake up and do it again with all the courage we can muster up. I think we have this picture of the perfect wife and mother…you know, that lady from Proverbs 31. And, when we don’t live up to that woman, we feel like failures. Well, I think there needs to be a new picture of the Proverbs 31 mom. One with a baby on her hip and a not so perfect hairdo carrying diaper bag and purse and the lunch box the other kid forgot this morning. That’s the real picture of grace to me. A parent just doing everything she can to hold it all together. And sometimes that’s not such a pretty picture, but it’s real and it’s not dependent on her being perfect. It’s dependent on her trusting a perfect God to get her and her kids through this messed up life. Grace as a parent is being able to admit that there are bad days and we’re not always going to get it right, but there will be opportunities to get it right tomorrow.