Dear Kids, I Have No Idea What I’m Doing
By Mary Rabe
I don’t know if you are aware of this or not, but I have no idea what I’m doing. This parenting thing? Yeah, I‘m pretty much winging it. Even after 3 kids, I am no expert. See, each of you are so different, and so unique, and so hard to read at times that I don’t think anyone could really become an expert!
Daddy and I have read books, listened to podcasts, turned to pastors and counselors to get wisdom… and yet there are still days and entire seasons when we are at a complete loss of what to do. I try to appear like I have things under control and am “good” at this Mom Thing, and to make you think that I’ve got the answers, but you know what? Out of sight, when you are in bed or I have some alone time, I oftentimes break down. “God, why in the world did you give me these kids? I don’t know what you want me to do. I don’t understand how to reach them, and I am completely overwhelmed by the task of raising them.”
See, I’ve wanted this for as long as I can remember. I’ve dreamed of having kids and being a mom, and of having the chance to raise up the next generation to serve our amazing God. Now I’m literally living the dream, and I’ve gotta be honest: there are some days when it resembles more of a nightmare! I had no idea how hard this would be. I thought that reading the books and studying the articles and learning from others would equip me to do this thing right, but it’s so different to do it in real life. I don’t know how to stop temper tantrums. I am at a loss when the potty accidents keep going on, month after month after month. How am I really supposed to respond to defiance—and was that sour look really even defiance or just an overtired/overhungry/anxious kid? There’s no limit to “magic formulas” and “perfect answers” to these problems if I try to look…but almost all of them contradict each other. I always end up back at square one, wracking my brain and struggling to know what to do.
I think the thing that is hardest about all of this is that it matters so much to get it right. For one thing, I’ve never loved anyone quite like I love you all. I am smitten with each of you, and care so much about you that it physically hurts sometimes. I would do anything for you and have only the best in mind for you. I treasure every memory with you, cry over how fast our time together is passing, and am still sometimes in awe that you are mine!
Yet hand-in-hand with that love comes this heavy, sobering feeling of responsibility. I have to take care of you. I have been tasked with the job of not only keeping you alive, but of being used by God to help shape you into who He wants you to be. Your physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual well-being are, in large part, my responsibility. That pressure feels so heavy sometimes!
I also still have my own sinful nature to deal with. Sometimes I still feel like I’m a kid in need of parenting myself! They say that parenting shows us our immaturities like nothing else, and that has been so true for me. I can’t believe how selfish, impatient, anger-prone, and petty I can be! And God wants me to teach you character?! How can I teach somebody else what I am still learning? That’s why Mama has to apologize so often to you guys; I’m really learning right alongside you, even though I’m supposed to kind of know what I’m doing.
I wish I could get this right for you guys. I wish I could be the kind of mom I really want to be, all the time, with no (or at least very few) mistakes. But you know what? Just like I’m learning to have faith that God gave me each of you for a purpose, I hope you can grow to have that same belief about me. God picked me for you, and you for me, and He did it for a reason. We are helping each other become the people He desires. All of the conflict, mistakes, apologizing, do-overs, and successes are being used by Him to mold me as well as you guys. And as much as I love you guys, my love is just a teeny reflection of His love for you! So I guess all I can do is trust that God knows what He is doing, apologize when I mess up, and “keep on keeping on”. I can’t promise I won’t get discouraged, and I definitely won’t get it right all of the time (or maybe even most of the time if I’m honest), but I do promise that I won’t give up; I will do my best to make my mistakes right; and I will always love you, more than you’ll ever know, forever and ever.
Your Very-Imperfect but Crazy-About-You Mama