Thursday, June 7, 2007

Where is the love?

I really feel like I've been floundering in this thing called parenthood. There just seems to be so many blatant failures lately that are mocking me, jumping up into my face and saying "see... YOU can't do it!"

Yesterday, I sneaked out to the garage under the guise of cleaning and organizing it. Sometimes it's really hard to get some quiet and alone time with 4 young kids, so if it means I have to subject myself to some hard work to be alone, I'll do it.

I prayed for a while in the dark interior, squatting on the cold cement floor as I sorted through random boxes of stuff the previous owner of our house left behind. I just really need some answers! I feel like I'm not doing great homeschooling because my firstborn is supposed to be going into grade 3, but it seems like she's at more of a grade 1-2 level in her reading and writing skills. I am frustrated with the lying and stealing we've had to deal with (are we bad parents?). I feel like my house is never clean. I also feel like I spend way more time managing my children - ie. "do this, do that"; "don't touch"; "I said 'no' "; and I want to spend more time enjoying them and loving them and connecting with them.

As cheesy as it may be, something popped into my head that probably has been done before by another parent somewhere, but here goes:

If I teach my children right from wrong, and tell them to mind their manners, and respect their elders, but have not love, I am nothing but a clanging gong or cymbal.

If I homeschool with all the best curriculum, have my children trained to do all their chores, and pick up after themselves, but have not love, I'm no better than a yowling cat at 3 am.

If I feed my children organically, plant a garden with them and dress them in designer clothes, but have not love.... I've missed the point entirely.

Later, I felt the Holy Spirit pop another idea into my head while I roamed the aisles of the library, searching for books to inspire my begrudging little reader. Why can't I celebrate my daughter for who she is, and the accomplishments as they come to her, rather than measuring each step in accordance to what she "should" be doing. If I am continually thinking that she is not doing good enough, not at the level she should be, not like my friend's kids, etc, then I am continually going to look down on her in my mind and not give her the encouragement she needs. Ideally, I should be excited with each step, and encourage her just for who she is. I want to be excited with her for reading the word "school" even though I wish she was reading the word "physiologist".

I find it ironic that God has made my firstborn in a way that I find so difficult to understand, that relating to her is a challenge... But it is all in His plan. He didn't intend for me to find parenting a breeze, He planned for me to need His help all along the way.

So I'm really finding myself on a quest to love my kids just the way they are. I don't need to do much else with them - none of that matters if they don't feel incredibly loved. I want them to grow up and look back on their childhood and have them say "Hmmm... maybe the house wasn't perfectly clean all the time... but Mom sure loved us. She was always hugging us and spending time with us!"

That's all I need for a legacy. That's all I need to pass on to the next generation.