Realizing You’re a Bad Parent–A Rite of Passage

I’m a good parent. I know this because I’m told it’s true most days of the week. Do you want to know why people say this? Because I have ten children. That’s it. It somehow automatically makes me the bomb. I’m patient, organized, good with kids, put together, and joyful. That’s what they say, so it must be true.

Except it’s not. When we first got married, Bill didn’t want children and I was just fine to not have any. I have red in my hair and the quick temper to go along with it, so patience has only ever been something I’ve prayed for (insert God’s humor in the way he’s answering that one!). I’m a really great planner but really terrible at follow-through. I prefer teenagers over young children (though give me a newborn any day!!); my house is a mess most of the day with me in sweats, no make-up, and 2-or-3-day-old hair; and I’m joyful as long as people outside my family are around. I’m an expert at looking good on the surface.

But that’s not all. I try to control my children most of the time because I don’t trust God to change hearts. I mean to instruct my children but end up tearing their little hearts down. I choose my phone over time with my kids almost every day. The TV becomes reprieve just so I don’t have to listen to them anymore. I yell. I expect my kids to revolve around me. I fail to pray for them.

And this is exactly where I want to be.

Because this is when real parenting begins. The parenting of a Father who comes along to say, “Yeah, you royally screwed up again. My son’s blood covers that, too.” A Father who never lets me believe for long that I’m a good mom so he can show off how good of a Dad he is. A Father who keeps reminding me how much I still need to crawl in my Daddy’s lap, crying out to him to take over and save me from myself. A Dad who loves my children so so much more than I ever could. A Dad who is full of mercy and forgiveness, yet still spanks my butt when I fail so I’m led back to his goodness, all the while never leaving me in spite of my rebellion. A Dad who reminds me I can never do anything to keep my children from him, and I can never do anything to bring them to him, either, because they are and always have been in his hands, not mine. A Dad who continues to show Himself in much the same ways to my children regardless of their mom’s faith.

A Dad who changes me because he’s in me. When my faith is in anything I’m doing instead of this Spirit, I believe I’m a good mom. And I’m wrong. When my faith is in the perfect Dad and what he’s doing, I see how impossible it is for me to be a good mom no matter how hard I try, and that’s when the transformation starts. I actually start to be a good mom because the good Dad is seen instead.