You learn you are expecting a child. Whether that child is coming from your own womb or the womb of another, you are about to be a parent. And then, the day comes when the baby enters the world. You marvel at how this tiny human was created. You dream, even plan, of how you will be the most amazing parent ever. You will guide, protect, and be patient and gentle. You will not yell or allow anger to take over your parental decisions. You will raise respectful children who are always kind to others.
Then the tiny human begins to grow. Then one extremely early morning, you wake to find that tiny human has grown into small human and has escaped from his crib only to stand next to you and scare the living crap out of you with the words, “I jump!” Yes, ladies and gentlemen, small human is a climber. Did I mention small human also puts everything in his mouth? Yes, that includes his pee soaked diaper insides that exploded since he slept through the entire night. You learn that the people who work for the Poison Control Center are fabulously understanding and most importantly, that small human will be okay. You learn to be thankful for non-toxic everything.
Ahh, but don’t forget you have another small human, the one who was here first and wants nothing more than to see slightly smaller human destroyed. So one day, you turn your back for a moment and find that small human has convinced smaller human to climb from the upper deck onto the roof. After a minor heart attack, you safely maneuver smaller human back onto the deck.
These small humans have very little understanding of the word “danger” until they experience pain for themselves. Parents know nothing. Experience means little.
So now I am mom to two medium-sized humans. Two boys to be exact. I laugh at my parenting plans before I actually had to do my best every day to attempt to keep these children from injuring themselves or others. I remember saying I would never spank. I remember saying I would never yell. I remember believing I would just know what to do. So here’s the truth now, as our boys will be ages 10 and 7 this year. I spank. I yell. And I have no idea what I’m doing or how to handle most, if not all, parenting situations.
So here’s the reality today. My kids generally hate me. They want to eat junk all day long; we don’t let them. They want to eat and run; we make them eat dinner with us as a family most days. They want to pee all over the toilet seat and expect mom to clean up after them; we make them clean it up themselves. They want to stay home on Sunday mornings in their underwear and play video games; we go to church as a family. They want to get angry, scream that I am a horrible mother, and then go back to their video games; they get grounded, spanked, and don’t get video games for a week. They want to forget their manners; they lose Kindle time. They want to destroy their bedrooms and expect mom and dad to clean them up; we shut the doors until they run out of clothes and are forced to clean. They want to be rough on toys and expect mom and dad to just buy new ones; we make them work to earn their own money by doing chores and use their money to purchase replacements. They want to try dangerous stunts; we let them within reason…they learn. They want to play video games all day long; we cancel cable in the summer and only allow television time in the evenings after we’ve been outside all day long. They want to be the first to run in everywhere; we make them hold doors for others. They want to do wrong and blame others; we teach them how to accept responsibility and fix mistakes. They want to have things and favors handed to them; we teach them to work hard and help others without expecting in return. They want to goof off in school; we teach them to respect a solid education and the teachers giving it to them.
They don’t yet understand what we are trying to do…that we are just trying to help them grow into respectful and responsible young men. We don’t know what we are doing as parents, but we do know we are trying our best. Yes, I yell. Yes, I allow anger to control my parenting from time to time. Yes, I will spank our children if the situation warrants it. No, I do not know if what we are doing is working. I believe my roll is to parent and pray; that’s it.
A woman once said to me, “Free will trumps good parenting every day.” This is so true. And honestly, it makes me feel so much better. I will do my best as their mother. I will raise them in a Christian environment with the knowledge that we respect and love others, we treat women with gentleness and admiration, and we share responsibilities in the home. We work for what we get in life and we do not expect handouts. We believe in education and using passions and God-given talents to help others. So at the end of the day, our kids still have to choose. They still have to make their own choices. We can’t be there always to be sure they are following through with what we are teaching. Free will trumps good parenting.
Parent and pray. That’s what I’ll keep doing every day. It’s worth it. I just pray we are doing right by them. Parent and pray.
Like Jeremy and Bailey on Facebook to learn more about our story and daily life. We are Christian advocates for mental health and Jeremy has survived multiple suicide attempts and lives with severe depression. We run a support group, Anchoring Hope, in Cozad, Nebraska for those suffering from mental illness or supporting a loved one. Be sure to check out our website at www.jeremyandbailey.com to find more and even link to purchase our book, “Never Alone: A Husband and Wife’s Journey with Depression and Faith.”