Out with friends the other night, we quickly found ourselves discussing parenting. Because, when you’re a mom, even a mom who is going out to unwind with her bestest of friends, your kids are with you. Everywhere. Even in Mexican restaurants with spinach queso dips and Margarita menus that go on and on until you can’t even remember what you were looking for in the first place.
Somehow, I found myself explaining that Alex, my eight year old, does the laundry and that Asher, my four year old, gets an earful when he wets his pants.
Because I have expectations for my children. I expect them to not come to me asking why they don’t have any clean pants (if you see a full hamper in your room, wash your pants) and I expect them, after more than a year of being potty-trained, to not leave puddles on my living room floor.
I am that mom.
I expect my children to be becoming responsible, self-sufficient beings.
Isn’t that, kind of, sort of, my job?
Of course, I do the 90% of the laundry (and the dishes and most every other household chore) and of course, I understand that sometimes a four year old gets distracted by his Leap Pad and doesn’t make it to the bathroom in time.
I get all that.
And thankfully, the friends I was sharing with are not the sort who would judge me or think me a terrible, cruel parent.
But sometimes I feel bombarded by the sort of soft parenting articles out there, in my newsfeeds, on fellow parenting blogs, that I ought to admit, I don’t really even read, especially if I can sort of see where they’re going after the first paragraph (a guided tour of how-I-am-doing-everything-wrong-and-damaging-precious-jonny’s-psyche-in-the-process.)
Thing is, as much as I do learn from my children and this whole parenting process (I’d say about eighty-percent of the posts on this blog are about being attentive to the moments where God speaks through children, through touching our hearts in the ordinary spaces and interactions in our homes and relationships), I did not become a mother so that I could be raised by my children.
Yes, motherhood is transformative and powerful and educational, but at the end of the day, it’s most simply a job. It’s a job that sometimes, in my house, requires the tough love. The sort of love that says, if you’re able to see the problem, you are able to find the solution.
This isn’t lazy parenting (hey kid, do your own laundry), this isn’t harsh (poor Alex, his mom won’t even wash his clothes) – this is saying, I trust you to be responsible for your things.
And trust, to an eight year old, is golden. It is the lifeblood of his self-esteem.
At the end of the day, my job assignment, as I see it, is to raise children to be godly men and women, capable of caring for themselves and others.
I did not sign up to spend my days feeling like a slave or a maid, but a willing servant and a respected mother and guide. I went into parenthood knowing that my children would be my children, that my goals would be to help them to be humbled to obedience, guided firmly but with compassion, and that friendship with them, true, we’re buddies in the best sense of the word, friendship, will only come after I have done my job.
So. Yes. I yell at my children, as necessary. (And I apologize to my children, when a rant was not necessary.) And yes, I am firm with my children in a world where online articles and parenting blogs make it look like every day ought to be a crafty-kid-centric day at the playground.
And, before you worry that my children live in some sort of trailer park sweat shop where they match and fold their dad’s socks (hahaha, matching socks. Ain’t nobody got time for that), while I am cracking a whip and eating bon bons – my children are loved. They are safe and greater than that, they know that they are valued as assets to our home.
Alex is proud of his role as caretaker of our dog and our cat. Lila is proud to help Evaline get dressed and to wash her hair in the bath. Asher is always excited to help with any floor or wall that needs a good sponging. And, Evaline, well, she is two and this morning dunked her entire upper body in the toilet. She is still a work in progress (aren’t we all?)
I guess, all this is to say, world of the internet, I need less advice on how to make my children’s lives all cotton candy and rainbows, and more solidarity in this world of practical how-to-make-good-people parenting.
And if you’re out there, like me, I just want you to know to keep up the good fight.
You’re not alone.