FOR THE DAYS YOU JUST WANT TO RUN AWAY
by Jennifer Deshler
The setting: 10:30 pm, with a Lit paper incomplete and due the next morning
The characters: One tired mom and one normal teenager
The end result: Bad. Both went to bed mad and hurt.
Y’all, some days I feel like the worst mom, ever. For all the ways that I have tried to model parenting differently than my parents did, I still catch myself doing and saying things sometimes that I know will sting long after my apology is accepted.
In this particular struggle, after my daughters’ passionate debate had grown to total meltdown, I, Super Mom of the Year, yelled, “if you don’t chill out, I’m leaving!” Now, in my mind, I knew that meant a walk down the hill or a drive around the subdivision to give us both space to cool down. But what she heard was “you are bad and I am leaving you.” And it crushed her. How could I, the mom who was once a young child standing on the front porch begging a parent not to leave, ever utter such painful words to my own precious child?! Even typing this makes me feel like a total witch. The next day, we had a good chat about it; both apologized, and made a game plan for future potential explosions. But I still felt guilt over wanting to escape.
The truth is, some days; we all want to run away. From grocery shopping and paying bills and work and maintaining relationships and parenting and…life.
Life isn’t easy, and it’s not meant to be. But the learning we encounter in those hard times makes it all worth it.
And what I’ve been learning more lately is…
We have to give ourselves the same level of grace we give everyone else.
If you are at all like me, I can hand out compassion to others without blinking. But the level to which I beat myself up and overanalyze actions would likely border on emotional abuse if it was directed outward. Why do we hold ourselves to a standard of perfection that we can never meet? It becomes a demotivating cycle of unmet expectations, that without realizing it, we can unload on our kids (I’m not the only parent who has gotten ticked off about something my child shared with my friends because of how it might make Me look, right?).
Knowing that I only have a few more years left with my teenager at home, I’ve been looking at how to navigate these years in a way that will keep grace flowing, communication open and respect mutual. And as the parent, this path begins with me.
Here are some truths I am holding on to and hope you can too:
- This is all new to me. I’ve never had a class on being a great parent, and that means making room for mistakes. Grace when she screws up, and when I do. And sometimes grace just looks like a hug in the middle of the storm.
- “Perfect” doesn’t exist. It’s time we begin to live in “good.” Our kids, husbands, friends, and families don’t need us to get it right every time. They just need us to show up with authenticity.
- Gratitude changes everything. When I begin my day with gratefulness for my child, my faith, our home, my work, and opportunities to love others well, it resets my perspective on the day. Then when the storms rage, it’s easier to remember all the good things that are bigger than this temporary problem.
Today, I’m rooting for every parent who is on this road alongside me. And to those who have already run the race and are seeing the fruits of your labor in older children, take a moment to encourage us. Remind us that grace truly covers a multitude of wrongs, and that our kids will remember the good stuff more than the bad.
What about you? What tips and tricks have you learned to make grace a part of your parenting? Post your comments below so we can learn from and encourage each other.