Parenting. It's hard to describe in just one word. Just this evening, I spent 3 minutes journaling singular thoughts that would encompass this monetary-less act of one part holy, one part holy cow and 3 parts humanity. Let's just say I had a Scrabble board full of perpendicular descriptors. Tag lines like joyful, exhausting, repetitive, visionary,
vodka, hope, prayer, consequence, character, laughter, optimistic, love, sacrifice, compassion, investment, grace, opportunity, hard, faith, guidance, patience, un-ending. For those not yet decided on whether or not you would like to have children, read'em. Homey, don't play. This job is no joke. We be up on the realz with this gig.
I was absolutely clueless when it came to what it meant to parent. Kenny showed me how to change my very FIRST diaper when Eli was born. Pregnancy was just a dreamy blur of reckless food ingestion, belly pics and the pursuit of just how many items I could, in fact, procure from Pottery Barn Kids. From the first squall wailed out of Eli's mouth until this very moment, Kenny and I have been on the learning curve something fierce. And the crazy thing? Our boys are 7 and almost 9 years old and sure enough, on any given day, we could offer to the world the same cluelessness that with which we began.
Parenting is being present and real. It's the ardent conviction of hope. It's being alert enough to believe & offer your best through the befuddled steps of growing up. It's prayer. It's peace too. With who you are as person and with the who God has plans for your child to be. Parenting is not multiple choice. It's essay answers with tear stained watermarks and wadded, crumpled edges. It's erasing around the torn lead smeared holes caused from frustration & haste in attempts to remove the mistakes. Ripped and compromised, you're then left no choice but to tenderly reconstruct your thoughts on paper which just so happens to be the life you created.
Parenting is trying. That's it. It's the falling down and the getting back up. It's knowing your child like no one else. It's reminding yourself daily that YOU are their advocate on this Earth. It's reminders more of what it means to be what you need them to see. It's crying and confusion and helplessness with big doses of hurt too. Yes, essay. Pages & pages written into the life that has the potential to make our world better all because you decided to put your pen to the paper.
Kenny and I are NOT super parents. We are not super humans either. We are average everyday people who live. We live daily with 2 boys watching our every step. We screw up. We high five big time when we don't. As we raise Eli and Casey, there tend be 5 big ideas that keep us centered. Center meaning, when these 5 are in a healthy working order, the trials of parenting are tackled with more efficiency than when they're not. Out of rhythm happens to us all. And when it does, it never fails, we find ourselves lacking in one or more of these mainstays for the way we want to be for our boys.
1. THINK. Wait time is huge for Kenny and me. Our boys get our best parenting when we stop and think before we decide to say or do anything with regards to discipline. I don't know how many times I have had to take my foot out of my mouth only to apologize for not following #1.
2. ASK QUESTIONS & LISTEN. Our boys love to be heard. They love to see Kenny and I inquiring about their interests. There are days that I don't know that I can take one more conversation about a pick 6 that Casey threw on Madden '14 or hear one more story about the history of the artillery in WWII from Eli, but I *TRY* to remind myself of the value that lies in being heard and the respect that's transferred from giving them my undivided attention.
3. BE CONSISTENT. Geez, this one is tough. If I am gonna threaten a consequence, I better be ready to follow through with the consequence. OUCH. I stink it up with this one more than I care to say. But, I'm working on not letting tired and busy get in the way of my honesty in what I communicate. It's a biggie for our family.
4. GIVE IT OVER. My biggest worries for my boys are handed over. I give them away every chance I get. While I'm doing dishes or when I'm driving in the car, God hears my heavy for my boys. There is a peace unprecedented and serene that comes from prayer. I am human. Flawed, I can change no hearts nor heal any attitudes. He's the frontrunner in that business. I out source. He bills me. 18 months same as cash and His credit has never been better. Our boys get our prayers every day.
5. SPEND TIME. Time. Spend it. Even when you don't wanna. Sometimes I will put myself on the timer. Stop laughing. I'm dead serious. I'll give myself a certain time to go be with the boys. This works especially when I'm tired or super busy. I try to remember that my time is the most important element of me they can receive. Before long, the routine of quality minutes is kinda in rhythm. I always feel better after spending time with the boys. It's free and it's life lifting to be with the ones you love.
Failing happens. Like the dickens, I want to make this whole parenthood gig look good. I want all 5 stars and all the time. It's not so much that I want it for me as much as I want it for the boys. I want to make certain that we're not leaving them void of a great start with the right kinda tools for making this life their very best. And because failing is inevitable and multiple choice isn't an option, Kenny and I pick up our pen. The boys will know a life surrounded by their parent's scribbles, scratched-outs and started-overs. But it is with a resounding hope and some kinda hallelujah prayer, that they grow into young men equipped for a life full & healthy all because they were written with our best ink.