A very wise friend once told me that children can put up with a huge amount of suffering as long as they are loved.
I’m a mum.
I get all kinds of things wrong, as lots of parents do; I shrink favourite T shirts, I inflict all kinds of vegetables which have to be eaten, I damage a lot of the most important Lego models, I use affectionate names in front of his school friends (yes, I can hear you cringing even now), and I’ve even given away toys that I thought had been finished with, only later to discover that they were still wanted. Amazingly, for most of it my son has been extraordinarily forgiving; he indulges me with much needed cuddles, laughs at most of my jokes and seems to have decided that, in an imperfect world, I am worthy of huge amounts of love.
But there are times I really feel my own inadequacies – like the time that we were skiing in France some years ago. I, poor little innocent that I am, having never been on a mountain before, had no concept of the fact that you can still get sunburnt on a cloudy day if you are high enough up a mountain. Yes, you’ve guessed it, my poor tolerant son ended up with two neat, but very nasty sunburnt triangles between where his goggles sat and where his coat started. Once the full horror had become apparent the following morning, I exposed my guilt before the world by taking him, and his visibly burnt face, on a bus, to the waiting room of an emergency doctor near our resort. The very nice young doctor we saw spoke absolutely no English, and my French is woefully inadequate, but I still understood with crystal clarity what an appallingly bad mother I was and how this piece of bad parenting was probably going to be the cause of numerous untold horrors in my son’s future well being.
And then there are those times when James wants to tell me about some new idea he has had, and I’m just trying to rush him off to bed… or off to school, or rush myself off to some other unnecessary event. Sometimes it hits me that these precious years of childhood will pass all too soon… and that among all the computer games, toys and homework, swimming lessons and dentist appointments, that precious gift of listening to one another can be so easily lost in the noise of everyday life.
Parenting is a minefield without an instruction book, and, as of last Sunday, we’ve now reached the point where James’ teenage years are upon us, with new challenges and incumbent anxieties. My understanding is that, for the next few years, our family road could get an awful lot bumpier, with, probably, a requirement for a few new strategies.
The first, and perhaps the most important of these, I am trying to learn from our extraordinarily loving God, and the way He parents us. He listens to us side by side, day by day, never confrontational, always loving, he walks beside us all through our lives. He never rushes us off to bed, to school, to work – He just walks beside us and listens, and if we listen to Him, we will find that he brings all the love we ever needed and talks to us through our hearts, telling us, just as we should tell our children:
“You are enough.”
So far, James remains delightfully straightforward, and continues to be a joy to have around, but I’m fully expecting spots, deodorant – or lack thereof – girlfriends, exams and who’s-in-charge-here worries to arrive at any moment. I will continue to feel woefully inadequate most days, but I’m learning from my Heavenly Father and I’m trying to be as ready as I can.
Inevitably, I’m bound to fall short of the ideal parenthood standard, but hopefully, James will continue to be endlessly forgiving; he knows, just as I do, that love is a bumpy road and I am, after all, just a mum.
…As a response to this we wanted to do something to celebrate all those wonderful parents around the country who travel the bumpy road of parenting… If this resonates with you too, please do share the below graphic and show your love and support with us using the hashtag #loveyourparents
We’d love to hear your stories of the ups and downs of being a parent – and over the next few days also the bumpy road of being a leader, a teacher, a nurse and a musician! Post your comments below or on facebook – or email them to me directly but do get involved!