I remember the first time someone asked me, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” I boldly proclaimed, “I want to be a mom!”
Sometimes the answer included an ice skater, or a ballerina. Sometimes I thought I wanted to be a teacher or a photographer, but above all I really just wanted to become a mother.
It has been my dream since I was a little girl. Then why—some days— is it so hard? Why somedays do I believe the lies that I deserve more? I think the answer to that question boils down to three little words.
Some days I have lists longer than hours to do them. I want to feel accomplished so I put my sense of worth in the amount of check marks on my list at the end of the day. This desire—although worthy of many causes—can be impeding on some of the important things that didn’t make the list.
And usually for us parents, the easiest thing to avoid is spending quality time with our children. They are entertained by electronics while we research “important” things online. They watch hours of TV while we exercise and obsessively clean the house. They play alone so we can make a few more phone calls. They don’t see us all day, so we can get those extra hours in at the office. They get forgotten and replaced by so many other priorities—because we are selfish.
#2. Fear. Fear is paralyzing. We hide behind it and from it. Sometimes we avoid parenting for fear we will screw up; other times we “over parent” our children to compensate for our fear that they will.
Fear is constantly triggered by trauma. (On this blog we are going to define trauma as a moment when life didn’t go according to our plan—and so acknowledging that everyone has been through some sort of trauma). So as we battle our own insecurities, mixed with traumas from the past it begins to get harder and harder to break out of the fog of fear. So we are scared of what was, and what could be . . . and we forget to live what really is.
Trauma is a tool used to make us believe that life will never be “normal”. It is a lie that aches inside of us trying to get us to believe we will always be broken from it. Parent’s—these are lies we have to smoke out. We have to change them to truths if we truly want to be able to become the moms and dads we always dreamed we would be.
We have all been through hard things, and worry our children will suffer through traumas of their owns. And guess what? They will. But we have to have faith that they are strong. We have to start to believe that we are doing something right that will help them have the tools they need to battle all their wars. And even more, we have to realize that the more we spend time avoiding the hard stuff out of fear—the more we are missing what really matters.
#3. Expectations. I have always been a planner. I get these ideas in my head about the way things are supposed to be. And most of the time I am right (clearly . . . ) Just kidding, but really. In my mind, if people would just do and say and be what I had planned for them, their lives would be so much easier . . . and then we could all be happy.
I wish I could say this was an exaggeration, but it really is a problem. I get stuck on my plans, and have a hard time allowing others to figure things out “the hard way”—which ironically can be defined as anything not going according to what I think it should.
I have ideas. They seem so simple individually, but if I were to make a list, you might understand how incredibly insane are the expectations that roll around in my head.
Ok, lets give it a try . . .
I want my kids to: behave, respect, obey, be kind, get good grades, be praised by their teachers, get along with everyone, fit in, excel, be honest, be virtuous, perform, be organized, be clean, be observant, be empathetic, be helpful, be understanding, share, express feelings, be happy all day, take long naps, sleep in, go to bed early, be calm, have healthy perfect bodies, honor, pretend, be accountable, be creative, be clean, have fun, take life seriously, be spontaneous, plan ahead, be daring, be safe, and carefree.
I am a walking contradiction. I want perfection, but I want them to just be kids. I want them to have fun, but I want them to take me seriously. I have these grand expectations that my children will become perfect . . . and once they do—that is when parenting will become easy.
Expectations are what fail us—not people.
What if I just expected my family to be human? Would it be easier to love them if I just made a plan in my head that they might mess up? Would I better be able to step up to the challenge when I received a negative email from a teacher if I lowered my expectations of their perfection? If I saw their imperfections as reminders of their need for love, instead of flaws . . . would I better be able to be God’s hand in their life?
So lets ask ourselves: Is our fear, selfishness, or our expectations of what should be, stopping us from being who we really could be? Are we putting our spouse and children at the bottom of our priority lists? Is that really where they should be?
I can tell you this much . . . for all the times we personally have thought that we deserve so much more—maybe we should have been saying it about all the people who have patiently felt that about us.
Does your family deserve more of you? . . . then what are you going to do about it?
I know for a fact mine do. So, I am sure not supposing that I can drop all other responsibilities and activities that I have in my life. What I am proposing is that we find ways to make our children (and our spouses for that matter) part of them. And not an idealistic version of what we want them to become—them . . . the way they are now.
When they are on our priority list, we will better be able to enjoy taking care of them. We will began to forget about the times that they felt like a burden, and see the joy that they bring. Joy doesn’t come when the destination of normalcy is reached. It comes when we realize that we will no longer leave room for selfishness, fear, and expectations.
We can chose to take a stand against these lies in our lives. Once we do, the dreams we had long ago about a distant “perfect” family can be reached. Not because anything around us will change, but because we will.
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