♥ Hey friends! I’m taking the rest of the year off from writing original posts, but amazing things are still coming for you! My 2016 guest post series continues TODAY with writer/blogger Jennie Scott! ♥
When I learned my second pregnancy was with a little girl, I immediately had visions of tutus and hairbows. Parenting up to that point had consisted of Tonka trucks and John Deere tractors, so the thought of dressing up a little girl fascinated me. I left the ultrasound and went straight to the store, needing to buy something pink and prissy to hang in her closet.
Today, that little girl is nearly 10 years old, and although I dressed her in pink and placed the biggest bows I could find on her tiny baby head, she did not turn out to be a prissy girl. She is athletic and strong, and she would rather wear running shorts and t-shirts than dresses and tights.
Her dark brown hair cascades down her back, and a ponytail has become her signature look. But that dark brown ponytail has become the biggest argument-inducer between the two of us. She hates to condition it, hates to dry it, and hates to brush it. If she had her way, her hair would always air dry and be full of tangles and knots. We’ve gone around and around about it, and every night I find myself asking, “Have you brushed your hair yet?” I always know the answer.
After a busy night recently of her gymnastics practice and her brother’s football activities, we rushed to eat dinner, make lunches, take showers, and get everyone ready for bed. It wasn’t until I tucked her in that I noticed her hair. Unbrushed. Wet. Tangled.
I wish I could say I handled it calmly, but I didn’t. I was tired and harried, and I let my frustration over her actions direct my handling of the situation. I fussed. I criticized. And I made her cry.
“I’m sorry,” she tearfully apologized, adding, “I’m so mad at myself.”
And in that moment, I became mad at myself, too.
Was my daughter irresponsible? Yes. Did she disobey directions I’ve given since she began bathing herself? Yes. But did I correct with love and teach her well in this moment? No. Did I represent Christ to her in my correction? Not even close.
Parenting is the most humbling undertaking of my life. Daily, I feel incapable, inept, and overwhelmed with the enormity of what’s at stake. Daily, I make mistakes and fail at the tasks set before me.
After I apologized and comforted my daughter, I spoke to my Father. “God, I’m so sorry,” I said. “I was out of line, and I need you to help me parent your way. I get so mad and speak harshly, and all that does is create a rift.”
I remembered Colossians 3:21, “Do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged,” and I felt that was exactly what I had done. I had turned a situation where I could have taught her into a situation where I simply chastised her. I had turned a learning opportunity into a time of discouragement. That is never what God does with us, yet the picture I painted for her of instruction was one where correction is anger, frustration, and exasperation.
I felt like a failure, and I replayed the night’s events – and others that were similar – over and over in my mind. I counted my mistakes, rehashed the words I said, and regretted what I’d done.
That night, I felt defeated as a mother. I thought back to how I once imagined myself as a mom, patient and kind with warm cookies baked after school. I compared myself to other moms I know who seem to be all I desire. I saw my shortcomings, decided I was the worst, and despaired over what I had done.
I didn’t sleep very well.
But the next morning, my daughter bounded into the den happy and smiling. She didn’t mention the argument the night before and didn’t seem to be emotionally traumatized. She wanted to snuggle before school, and she seemed just fine.
In that moment, with her on my lap, I was reminded of Biblical truths I had forgotten the night before.
“Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” (Romans 8:1)
Though I was wrong, I don’t have to live bearing that weight.
“So do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” (Matthew 6:34)
I don’t have to look at the future with anxiety over how I will fail as a mother. Today should be my singular focus.
“The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; His mercies never come to an end; They are new every morning; Great is your faithfulness.” (Lamentations 3:22-23)
Each day, I am gifted the chance to begin again, and I receive mercy that never runs out.
I will never be a perfect mother, and I will never get everything right. But because of God’s great mercy, I don’t have to.
If I commit to serving him and seeking his will in every step of my parenting, He will intercede for both me and my children. His grace will cover what my flesh lacks. His perfect love will succeed where my imperfect love fails.
Parenting will drive to my knees again, I’m sure. But I pray it will also drive me to the Father who loves me well.
As a high school English teacher, Jennie always encouraged her students to chase their dreams. After nine years in the classroom, she recently left to chase her own dream of writing. The mom of two writes about enjoying whatever life throws your way, even if (and especially when) it isn’t what you planned. Her own unexpected journey is now her ministry.
When she’s not braving the elements at her son’s sports practices or driving her daughter to gymnastics, she loves to run and to read what the Amazon fairy delivers! She is active in the church she helped launch, and during football season, her blood runs orange for the Clemson Tigers. You can find Jennie’s blog at jenniegscott.com and connect with her on Instagram (@jenniegscott) and on Twitter @JennieGScott.