When Parenting is Unpopular and Being Friends is In

Friend, parent.  Parent, friend.  The lines can get blurry at times.  There are as many opinions and ideas about how to do this well as there are parents and friends in this world.

One of my five year olds calls her dad and I “BFF.”  She writes us notes with BFF and she says BFF at night as we are leaving her bedroom.  It’s cute and sweet now but could likely become confusing for her in a few years.

You see, there will be times when we won’t be friends.  We won’t be on the same page, won’t see eye to eye on some big issues and probably most of the small ones.  We may be at odds over clothing, and actual friends, and curfews and a million other things.  Will I love her and support her and want to one day be her friend?  Yes.  Will she and I be in a common group and have the same common experiences and interests?  Probably not so much.

Fast forward to her adult years.  Just like that.  I hope that we will be friends.  As she begins to become an adult, I hope that we really are BFF’s.  But the bigger question is between now and then, how do I parent?

I’ve sat through far too many parent/teacher conferences and listened to parents tell time and time again that they are afraid to enforce rules because they don’t want their child to be mad at them.  I have to be mindful of my face (and I’m really horrible at keeping it in check) because I really want to have my “Are you kidding me?” look on.  I am the PARENT.  It is my JOB to parent you.  You don’t have to like me all of the time.  Parenting often means making the hard calls, the tough choices, and the unpopular demands.

My seventeen year old got home at 1 a.m. this morning from a week long mission trip to Nicaragua.  I have no doubt that he is tired and he really needs rest.  However, he took a job at a local restaurant about two weeks ago.  He was on the schedule for 10 a.m. this morning.  Guess what?  At 9:15, it was time to get ready for work.  I assure you there was a lot of cover slinging as he got out of bed.  But, he survived.  He honored his word and he worked a 6 hour shift bussing tables.  It must not have drained him too badly because he has now gone to the movies with friends.  For a second, I felt guilty.  I mean…he’s tired. I haven’t seen him for a week.  A friend would have probably agreed with him and helped him rationalize why it was fine just to call in (or text in these days – so much less stressful!) to say he wasn’t coming.  Hard, unpopular call.

So this is what I pledge to my children as I parent you and move toward becoming your friend:

  1. I will love you.  I will always love you.  There is NO thing that could change that.  You will always, always have me on your side…even when you might not know which side you are on.  I am for you.
  2. I will always have your best interest at heart.  I will try my very best to make decisions that help you to become your best.  It might seem that the decisions are unfair and the boundaries are restrictive, but I will try hard to do what is best for you.
  3. I will mess up.  I will lose my temper.  I will probably nag.  I will be critical when I should be accepting.  I will need forgiveness.  You will too.  I will give it to both of us.
  4. I will pray for you.  I will cover you in prayer because it is the most powerful thing that I can ever do for you.
  5. When we are friends, I will be the very best friend you will ever have here on Earth.

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When You Just Need Bedtime

Those days.  Those days when you just need to make it until bedtime.

Having such a wide age range between my children (from 5 years to 21 years), I totally get it that “The days are long but the years are short.”  I get it.  I do.  It is true.

It’s funny that those people who are saying that usually aren’t in the trenches of mothering little people at that moment.  It is SO easy to see a different perspective when you are in a different season.  I went to visit with some friends today.  They both have babies under a year old.  I get on the floor and play.  I cuddle.  I coo and ooh and ahh.  I’m also not sleep deprived, not monitoring ear infections or keeping notes about antibiotics schedules, and not wondering if my diet is affecting my milk supply.  So, I’m in a totally different position.  Perspective.

But here’s the thing.  This parenting gig is hard.  Every stage is hard.  Don’t get me wrong, I love my kids more than life itself and there is NOTHING that I’d rather do than be a moma.  But, if we are being real….it is tiring.

The crying, whining, and “reporting” (being a tattle tail) is draining.  It can wear you down.  Don’t think you will sit down or get on the phone.  You will be a magnet for drama and everyone will need you.

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The temper tantrums can make you want to drive to the next state and rent a room at Motel 6 for the night and just hope they’ll really leave the light on for ya.

Things like packing lunches and checking backpacks can be daunting…..when you do it 580 times a year.  My second grader is crying right now in her room because she forgot her homework sheet at school and will get her conduct sheet marked with an X tomorrow.  I tried to care and even said some words about being responsible.  I’m not trying to make light of being responsible for your things, but if she really knew how little I cared about that.  Well, let’s just say she’d be shocked!  Grace.  We just need a little grace.

After I left that friend’s house today, I was on the way home for an hour of alone time before carpool. (My school is off this week and the girls were off last.)  I was stopped in the turn lane and got rear-ended.  An HOUR later, a policeman arrived and took the report.  I changed vehicles with my husband and proceeded to go pick up the girls.  I’m so glad that this didn’t rock my world or really change my day.  My back hurts and my van has to be fixed.  But….it’s all ok. I remember a time in my life when I would have been so upset about the hassle and the condition of my vehicle.  Today, I was just worried that I would be late to carpool and thankful that I was alone when it happened.  Perspective.

Now tonight, I’d like to sit down with my husband and watch a movie.  But here’s how that goes.  We will watch a grand total of about ten minutes.  I will wake him up and we will decide to go to bed…because that’s how we roll. 🙂

If the Lord is willing and the creek don’t rise, we will wake up to do it all over again tomorrow.  His mercies are new every morning.

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The only thing sweeter than a sleeping baby is two of them.