Patient: steadfast despite opposition, difficulty, or adversity (Merriam Webster)
The other day, my husband and I were sitting around talking with some friends, when I overheard him giving me a compliment. He said, "You know, my wife has the patience of a saint." When I heard him say this, my ears perked up. It was a shining moment for me. 'Wow,' I thought, he really thinks highly of me.' Then I heard the second part of his statement and my heart fell. Unfortunately, his compliment was attached to some strings. He went on to tell a tale that I am not overly proud of. One, in all honesty, I'd rather forget. But as always, my blog is a place I choose to be real, so here is a story of a time when I was anything but patient with my kiddos.
It's quite shocking really. It was a Monday and my daughter had been ultra moody with me all weekend. She'd been quite hurtful saying some not very nice things and just being a stinker all together. So the next day, when my son and I got into an argument, I sort of lost my cool. Walking away from him, I muttered under my breath, "Sometimes I hate having kids. They suck all the joy out of life." Thinking he was in the other room and not paying any attention to me, I proceeded to carry on with my day.
Unfortunately, my son had heard every word. You have to understand that he has a very sensitive nature, so for him to hear his mother say that he was sucking all the joy out of her life was pretty devastating. I didn't know at first that he had overheard me, but later my husband took me aside and informed me that our son was pretty upset. At that point, I was still pretty angry. Rather than being repentant, I shrugged my shoulders and said, "Well they do suck all the joy out of life sometimes." What's more, when my husband tried to smooth things over between myself and my son, I repeated my assertion.
Once I'd cooled down, I searched out my son and explained why I was feeling this way. I told him that, as a parent, I sometimes grow weary of dealing with the same issues day in and day out. Issues that never seem to be completely resolved or go away. It makes me feel so tired and weary, and it does feel as though parenting brings more pain than joy at times.
I once said that I never understood God half so well as before I had kids. Kids are tough. They just are and in the midst of the yuckiness of raising two near teenagers there are days when I just think to myself, "And how much longer do I have to put up with these two?" I wonder sometimes, if God ever mutters those same sentiments. Oh, I know God is the definition of patience. I believe that firmly. But surely there must be times when he gets tired of all the messes we as humans manage to make on this earth.
I'm grateful that our God is a long-suffering God - One who is able to love us steadfastly despite opposition, difficulty, or adversity. Quite frankly, knowing that God is abundantly patient with me makes me a better parent. It helps me to remember to be patient with my own kiddos, love them and hang in there with them - even on days when it feels like they've "sucked all the joy out of life."
Seriously, though, love your kiddos. Be patient with them the way God is with you. Remember how kind, good and forgiving he's been with you and model that love for your own little ones. There's not a better way to parent than to follow God's example of patience - patience that lasts despite every circumstance. May we love our kiddos as much as God loves us. Amen and Amen.
Creativity usually strikes me on the weekend, but it’s 8:00 pm on a Wednesday, and I’m feeling particularly inspired. I’ve been watching a new show, This is Us, which airs on NBC. It’s an inventive new drama with many story lines taking place simultaneously. The central theme of the story is family, more specifically growing up—how what happens to us when we’re younger carries over into adulthood.
As a parent, it’s a theme that scares me to death—this idea that so much of what my children will become is happening right now. Right under our roof. Right under our very noses. It gives me pause. What we’re doing now as parents will stay with our kids for a lifetime.
The Father figure in the story, played by Milo Ventimiglia, is a character named Jack. Jack is an amazing dad; full of patience, kindness, rolling with the punches, loving his kids unconditionally. He’s the kind of parent you’d want to emulate, but he hasn’t always been that way.
There’s a pivotal scene during which Jack must decide what kind of parent he’s going to be. It’s kind of like a “come-to-Jesus moment” for him. I wish I could have found a clip for it, but I’ll do my best to describe it:
Jack has been getting home later and later, spending more time at the bar than he does with his family. One evening after he gets home, his wife, Rebecca, played by Mandy Moore, has this conversation with him.
Sitting next to him on the couch she asks “Hey, how do you think we’re doing as parents?” Before he can answer, she responds, “I think we’re at a 6. On a sliding scale of 1 through 10, I think we’re at a 6, and I think I’m being generous.”
She continues, “I’m trying really hard to get us to a 9, because they are cute kids and they deserve 9 parents.” She pauses, “The thing is I feel like I’m there. I feel like I’m operating at a 9, because I do individualized lunches, and I do individualized tuck-ins so nobody feels jipped.”
Finally, she concludes, “But when you’re home and you’re you, you’re way better than I am. You’re a 10 . . . when you’re you, Jack.”
She confronts him about the drinking and gives him kind of an ultimatum about it concluding with, “Fix it, because I’m done letting you lower our score.”
Have you ever thought about it that way—that you’re in it together when it comes to parenting? You’re in it together. Divorced. Married. Separated. And here’s the deal, the stakes are high. Very high. High enough to scare the living daylights out of you, at least they should be.
I don’t know what’s going to happen in the show. I know what I hope will happen—that Jack and Rebecca will make it through the rocky parts and parent together for as long as they have. They’re a couple I’m rooting for.
But I’m going to root for myself and my husband even more. I want our kids to look back with fond memories on their childhood. I want to be the kind of parents that they look up to, the kind that they want to emulate someday.
More importantly, I want to parent with the end in mind. I want to intentionally raise our kids to be the kind of people we want them to be: smart, capable, caring, responsible, resilient. You get the gist.
Who do you want your children to grow up to be? What kind of legacy do you want to leave behind? Parenting is serious business, and it should be. After all, children grow up to be adults. It’s up to us to determine what kind of adults they’re going to be.