Parenting Through the Failures and the French Dressing

Good God, parenting is hard.

(I mean that less as an expletive and more as an actual cry out to God. But both work here.)

At times it’s so difficult it sucks. Like, sucks the life out of you.

If you're new here, I have two children. And ya, ya, they're basically the meaning, joy and all that stuff in my life; blah, blah. Also, I am often convinced by their actions, non-actions, and words that I am an incompetent, haggard, imbecile. The latter of which has been more common of late.

These two darlings of mine are opposites in nearly everything. 

My first child came into the world after a grueling 2-full days of pain-filled, epidural-failing labor in an uncomfortable hospital with shared recovery rooms. There was no sleep - or recovery - to be had in that loud, hot room with someone else's screaming newborn and crass family members on the other side of a curtain. Twice a day the cafeteria delivered prison-quality food that consisted primarily of iceberg lettuce with French dressing. (Ugh. WHO eats French dressing?)

Regardless, I was enamored with the life entrusted to me. That long-awaited, tiny, beautiful baby was mine!

As our days together grew, along with the bonding and immeasurable love, he confounded me in ways I assumed were due to my parenting inexperience. It was only some seven years later, I started to see these traits as part of who he is. He has obsessive compulsions. He struggles with anxiety. He is complicated.

Conversely, a few years, a few states, and some major life changes later, my second child came into the world in a miraculous, perfectly-timed flurry of ease and joy. [More on that here.]

In a cool, beachy town, she arrived quickly and with forgettable pain. We laid together in a quiet, cushy room to ourselves with no French dressing in sight and the world felt easy and good with her in it.

The five years of her since then have been largely easy and good. Where our eldest often confounds and exhausts us, our youngest comes along with receptiveness and reason that restores our sanity.

I don’t know who these little people will become - which is the outcome that drives the very purpose of parenting - but in these early years with them, they certainly have already niched out distinct traits and qualities.

One of our offspring, my husband says, struck the genetic lottery. She is smart, good at everything she tries, and likable, as though the very tranquility she came into the world with still emanates from her. Our other offspring, not unlike the way he came into the world, is... complicated. Many of his good qualities are quieter, take more time to see and appreciate. And, his character requires much more correction. (This is in part due to his older age, to be fair.) Parenting him takes more patience, humility, and time.

It is easy to grow weary or frustrated parenting any child … to wonder what you’re doing wrong and gosh-darn-it what’s wrong with them?!

It's in this onslaught I've forgotten something.

In the struggle and the self-doubt, I forgot that I’m the one for both of my children. My husband and I are meant for these two specific children; we have what it takes to to raise them into moral, just, kind humans; to take these blessings and cultivate the good within them as they grow.

In the words of Lysa TerKeurst, a wiser woman than I:

...God gave me this specific child. God sees within me the ability to be the one He’s perfectly designed to raise this child.

Through the normal difficulties or the unique ones, the sunshine and rainbows or the arguing and dejection, may each parent among us be encouraged and reminded that we are perfectly designed to raise the child or children we have.

Whew. And may God help us in the process. (Especially when puberty hits.)