I tell you what, I’ve been challenged lately. Challenged in my parenting. My time feels limited and my comfort zone stretched and my patience tried. Each night I fall into bed exhausted, counting the things I didn’t do today, the things I hope to get to tomorrow, wondering if those are the right things and if I’ll really have the discipline to follow through. Some days I do, some days I don’t; either way some seasons are still just hard. This season for me is hard. Starting a business, managing my home, mothering my kids, wifing my husband (is that a thing?), and through it all seeking Him first. Exhausting. Nothing like life to bring you to the end of yourself.
I reached the end of myself the other night. My husband was out of town for work. My kids and I were eating dinner together after a long but pleasant afternoon. We were in the homestretch. And conversation was flowing—what a great thing! I love it when we sit at the table and talk. This night someone brought up a frustrating experience at school and I actually thought Hey cool, I love it when they bring these things up and I don’t have to pry it out of them. But pretty soon, despite some sympathy and gentle questioning, it was clear that this was a topic brought up for the purpose of ranting and self-pity, and my sympathy plumb ran out. No more sympathy, just my own turn to express some frustration. Which may have involved the throwing of a plastic tumbler, maybe some broken shards in the sink. I admit that when I am at the end of myself, seeing something break sometimes brings some relief. I’m not saying it’s wise, I’m just saying what is. Somehow when I feel broken I take comfort in seeing broken things. Shards in the sink that give me something tangible to see and touch.
It was not my finest moment.
Thankfully the evening did not end there. I think sometimes we do things as parents that we regret, or we worry will scar our children, and we sit with that fear and let it fester instead of recognizing the power that we have to turn a bad situation into good. After my angry outburst at the dinner table I could have sat with the guilt and let my imagination run wild with how my kids would share it with their therapists one day. But instead I checked in with my kiddos. I held my girls and we shared through tears how sometimes we don’t know what to do with our feelings and the results can be messy. We talked about anger and fear, frustration and sadness all mixed together. I asked for forgiveness for my outburst and they quickly forgave; they extended the gracious recognition that sometimes feelings are so strong we need more than words to share them. I comforted my son when I explained the destructiveness of comparison—how God made boys and girls different, and those differences are not deficits or mistakes but stunning and complex manifestations of God’s creative genius. He looked me in the eye and he thanked me, said no one had ever told him that before.
My evening with my kids ended with quiet intimacy, deep discussion, and soulful prayer. We were a family coming together after a moment of division. I could have nursed that division, shaming myself and wallowing in the moment of broken humanity they saw in me, but then I would have missed the opportunity to share with them the blessed recovery and reconciliation we can enjoy when we see beyond the mess to our ability to heal and grow stronger.
My kids will see me when I am weak, weary, and ugly. I’m okay with that because God does beautiful things with my broken pieces. If my kids can have a front row seat to His work of transformation in me, so much the better. We will walk this road of healing together, broken shards glued back into place one piece at a time.