September 4, 2013

A Plea for Grace


"And nothing inspires as much shame as being a parent. 
Children confront us with our paradoxes and hypocrisies, and we are exposed [...]
 The shame of parenthood — which is a good shame — 
is that we want our children to be more whole than we are [...]" 

I keep thinking today will be the day. The day I figure out the way to be the greatest mama. The most patient. The most fun. The most of what she needs.

But my speech is peppered and punctuated with nos, don'ts, stops.
I tell her to go play in her room yet again.
And then I raise my voice.
And then I apologize.
And it has been a broken record around here lately.

Motherhood has been the most glaring example of my character, I think. It's shown me at my best and at my worst. Somehow, I manage to lose my patience, and find it, and lose it all over again all in the same day.

I'm not a pushover when it comes to parenting. Sky and I insist on pleases and thank yous and "may I haves", or she doesn't get what she's asking for. We have her repeat "yes, sir" and "yes, ma'am" after we ask her if she understands. We don't count to ten or bargain with her or bribe her with candy. We've gotten countless compliments on how polite, well mannered, and sweet she is from Sunday school teachers and strangers alike. She really is a good kid. A great one.

And yet, every single day has been a challenge. The threes have been a thousand times harder than the twos. Not a day-not an hour- goes by without whining or crying, and no matter what we do or say, it doesn't stop. And I feel broken- by my behavior even more than hers.

I love her so much. She deserves so much.Yesterday, she told me, "You're the best mommy I have ever seen." Instead of melting me, it shamed me. Out of every post I've written, this one hurts more than nearly all the rest. Because I want to be better than this.

If there was ever a need for grace, it's now.


13 kind comments from you:

MrsMcDancer said...

You are not alone. I swear our saving grace is G going to school {albeit it's a few hours a day}. He needs space from his mama, because it is his mama that brings out the rebellion in him. He is really a great kid, but he takes out any and all frustrations out on his constant- his mama. I hope you always remember that you are not a bad mom and losing patience is normal {and Healthy!} There will come a day when this seems like a distant memory. Hang in there!

Erinn C.D. said...

Have you ever heard of Carol Tuttle? You should look into her work as an energy profiler person. She's written a few books (One called the Child Whisperer for parents) but her ideology on energy profiling is really interesting and has totally given me a new way to figure out the best way to deal with kids (since I teach so many little dancers) and adults alike. Might be worth looking into? The whole thing is kind of a lot but the general idea behind it might peg where the conflict is happening between the two of you.
I will definitely be thinking good thoughts of grace for you :) <3

amy pike said...

I'm sure my two girlfriends are probably throwing in the towel and will become subscribers of your blog because I email them so many of your posts. I told them that you eloquently write the thoughts I am thinking. Well done my blog sister, well done.

jax from the harmon squad said...

Hugs! This is exactly how I've been feeling the past year (since Oskar was born). Every day I go to bed so sure I'm screwing my kids up. Then I go out in public and realize just how good they really are. But it's still hard. This parenting thing is a big responsibility! I think us mamas need one big giant group hug. (wouldn't that be a sight to see? drive by the playground and see all the moms hugging each other...)

Marcella{The Life After "Trust Me"} said...

The story of my parenting life. You are not alone my friend. ((hugs))

Chantal said...

Hang in there. Motherhood is a bumpy road, but there's plenty of smooth spots!

erin said...

Oh, Erika. You are not alone in these feelings. Parenting is so, so hard, and I can guarantee you that there is not a single one of us who feel like we are doing it 'right'. But I can also guarantee you that you are doing a wonderful job. Your children are happy, well-cared for, and they know that they are loved - and in the end that is all that matters. I know the uncertainties and guilt and desire to be more, give more, love more...but let those sweet moments like Millie's comment carry you through the rough patches. Your children love you, and you ARE their greatest mama. <3

Mrs.B said...

I am right there with you. Yesterday I lost my patience and actually said "get away from me!" and then I felt like the worst mother ever. I probably apologize to her 10 times a day. She wants my attention and I want to give it to her but I can't 24/7. We get compliments all the time from friends about how polite and what a sweet girl she is, because she is. Motherhood is hard and this morning I woke up telling myself it would be a good day and that I wouldn't lose my patience, so far it's going good but it's only 10:40am.

Michelle said...

Sending some virtual hugs! You are a wonderful mama, and Millie is such a doll (I'm sure Walter is a total doll, too, but I haven't met him yet). Erika, you are one of my mama idols; I know I'm not alone, and so many people look up to you and aspire to show their kids the love you show your kids and so eloquently put into words on your blog.

ash schlax said...

oh, lady. there is grace all over this. you are persevering. and she will remember all of the times that you apologize, probably more than the reasons you had to.

because no one is perfect. and you're showing her how to work through our brokenness. friend, that is a gift for us to give to our children. we are playing out the gospel for them. and that is a painful, but beautiful calling.

and the threes? goodness, they are no joke.

Kathryn B said...

You are not alone. I felt threes were a LOT harder than twos with our son. I think they are tryig to find their independence and with that comes power struggles. I'm sure you are doing an amazing job. I have also noticed, our children test our patience on a daily basis, but our angels for others.
No one is perfect and as long as you are doing your best and putting your children first (which I know you are) then you're doing a great job!!! Keep your chin up!

Brittney Liann said...

Motherhood is filled with so much joy, but also quite a few challenges. There are days when it seems like I will never get the hang of it all but I just try to remind myself that each day is a learning experience. You are a great mom Erika, there's no doubt in my mind about that. I'm sure its difficult finding the balance with two children, especially when one is a newborn and requires so much attention 24/7. God sees you trying so hard each day and knows what's in your heart. :)

blm said...

this is so universal. but rest assured that as hard as this phase is, she will still think you are the best mama every night when she goes to sleep. and she will grow into a sweet girl (and less of a toddler-monster hybrid as they all are at one point or another), and you will swell with pride at the little person you have raised. hang in there, mama, kids know when we're doing our best and they don't hold grudges (at least until they're teens).

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