No one ever told me parenting was going to be hard. I mean you hear about difficulties, and I know teenagers can cause strife…but no one said it was going to be this difficult. Not that my children are bad, I mean they have their moments. Sometimes there are days and even weeks, fortunately we haven’t hits months yet, that can be crazy. I would say at this point it is one of the hardest things I have ever done. It shows you, like marriage but in a greater magnitude, how selfish, stubborn, and idiotic you really are. It’s like putting a magnifying glass on your sin for everyone to see (a pleasant experience to be had by all).
So, sometimes I wonder what it would be like not to have kids. What would Brandy and I do with our time? Where would we go? How would we spend our money? My mind wanders and I think “What would it be like to be so free?” Maybe it’s just me, but the frustration that comes with children can be overwhelming.
For example, when we watch Carter play soccer, I go to his practice and he messes around, throws grass, doesn’t pay attention, sits down on the field, and even loses interest from time to time. I get so frustrated. I want him to do well. We encourage him to do his best. Every time he walks off the field we ask, “Did you do your best?” because really that’s all that we can and should ask of him. If he says yes, we encourage him in that and gently point out some areas where he could do better. If he says “no” we ask why and help him to process how he can do better. I have taken him out back with a ball and tried to help him learn how to dribble. We have played and I have tried to give him some pointers, but you can’t tell him anything because he knows it all already. He’s 7 going on 17. He knows best.
At times I feel like he’s not paying attention to anything we say or ask of him. And yet I have been highly surprised by what he has picked up. A while back, Pastor Joe was preaching about “speaking sweeter.” A phrase loosely thrown around with sarcasm during intramural volleyball. At one point Joe was asking everyone to think of someone specific that they needed to speak sweeter to. Especially so that they might come to know the Father. He asked everyone to write down the name or names of individuals that we each needed to speak to. Carter, distracted because he was fiddling around with his shoes, looked up at me and asked for a piece of paper. Thinking he wanted to draw I tried to find a piece with the most white space. He took it from me, pulled out a hymnal and began to write, in his first grade style, the name of a little boy that he struggles to be friends with. Not because Carter doesn’t like him, but because the little boy is not always nice to him. So much so, when he shares with me things that transpire between them, I can become angry in my son’s defense. So Carter, who I think isn’t paying a lick of attention, again, writes this little boy’s name down and then writes Jesus beside his name. I look at him, he looks at me and says, “I need to tell him about Jesus.”
Forget the frustrations. Forget the thought of what we would be doing had we never had children. Oh that we could have the heart of a 7-year-old to forgive and forget. To love without condition, simply desiring for others to know the Lord. That’s what parenting is all about – being taught by them.
All is cancelled out and the day is fresh and new when I look down at the big bright eyes of the one clinging to my leg saying “Daddy, I wanna ride! Ha ha ha”. In the midst of the chaos I thank God for bless us with four beautiful children (they take after their mother). I really don’t know what I would do without them or what I would do with that so-called “freedom.”
What have you learned from your child today?