The work of mercy that most embodies parenting is to instruct the uninformed. Only it took me a while to figure out that maybe it was me, the mama, who needed the most instruction.
From the earliest days of motherhood, when I frantically thumbed through pages of parenting books in the dark of the night in a desperate attempt to find a way to coax my son to sleep, I felt more clueless than confident.
No matter how many books I read, I could never get my son on a nursing schedule, sleep schedule, or a mama-really-needs-a-shower schedule. I had friends who were more successful with following the instructions, and, of course, I resented their efficiency and ease.
Another friend became a father for the first time in his mid-forties, and I remarked how nonplussed he seemed by parenthood. He said he thinks its because he is older and calmer. Then he told me about some app he has that explains all the developmental stages as they occur. I don’t even think I had an email address when my first son was born. Nor do I think an app would have made a difference.
The best advice came from a tiny card on a floral arrangement from a childhood friend. It promised, “You know more than you think you do.” She had faith in me. Not in my capacity to follow the instructions in a book, or to implement the logistics of a schedule, but in the very heart of me, a new mother.
While I am still desperate for parenting hacks to get my now teenagers to go to sleep at a reasonable hour, it’s with that heart that I am raising my boys. There aren’t enough words in all the languages of the world to write what I have learned from them. Even though, it’s me, the parent, who is supposed to be the teacher.
With a 16-year-old and a 13-year-old, I finally see the light at the end of the tunnel. But the light doesn’t come from any relief that my job as a mother is transitioning along with their growing independence. It comes from seeing the light that is inside each of them, as they become who they are meant to be, as they grow into their own beautiful hearts.
I haven’t done everything right or well or worthy of a Pinterest board. I may still go to bed later than I prefer because my son decides to make a smoothie at 11:30 at night. And I know my job isn’t over. They still need guidance, and my parenting skills still rely heavily on grace. But sometimes it’s nice to pause and feel the overwhelming gratitude for how things have turned out so far.
Sometimes, I lie in bed late at night thinking how proud I am of who they are and who they are becoming. I consider that maybe my friend was right. Maybe I knew more than I thought. Maybe I did well.
It’s kind of nice to think about. Besides, I am going to be awake anyway.
Any parenting encouragement you have to share? I would love to hear! If you missed last week’s post, read it here.