I'll back up.
Let's call parenting what it is: terrifying. I don't care how many books you read or how consistently you discipline, you are going to wake up in the middle of the night absolutely sure of the fact that you are ruining your offspring. The weight of the task you've undertaken suddenly overwhelms you in the middle of the night and you panic because of course, you have (pick one): spoiled, neglected, been too lenient, been too strict, asked too little, asked too much, coddled, ruined their self image, allowed them to become conceited, made them the center of things too much, ignored them, let them eat too much junk, allowed too much TV, and any other thing that can send parents swirling in guilty despair at three A.M. complete with cold sweats and self loathing.
Guilt: The mother's breakfast of champions.
Home schooling moms know to add things like: I should have made them take Chinese and French, play the violin, given them more free time, fed them a vegetarian diet, banned television completely, taught them to make their own clothes, take a Dave Ramsey finance course, and moved us to an organic farm where we could live happily off grid and be self sufficient. I love to think of Lisa from Green Acres teaching science while I'm imagining this last scenario. Though it is hard to imagine collecting insects dressed in a fluttering pink peignoir.
Early on I realized my complete inadequacy for the task at hand. Prayers began crib side. No, really before that. Toilet side, as I threw up. "Please God let this be over." And of course, from His perspective, in a cosmos unrestrained by time and space, it suddenly is. Let's give credit where it's due; He did all that I ever asked. Now part of that is in asking for the right things; I've found Him always ready to answer prayers for; wisdom, knowledge, understanding, compassion, a loving heart, and my personal favorite daily request: "Satisfy me this morning, with your unfailing love." I mean really, if we could ever just FEEL LOVED we could save ourselves so much pain. These were things I prayed over my children. And spouses, "Look at this crazy world, how are they ever going to find suitable spouses?" I was a little frantic about that life decision when she was five. Arranged marriages were so obviously a good idea! Why did we do away with them? On many occasions I did all this praying while sitting in their rooms, on the floor begging God to make up for all my deficiencies. Surely He knew he had to fill in the gaps! Was He crazy putting me in charge of two human beings? Some days I wondered. Maybe He hadn't taken a good look at me lately...
On really bad days I prayed something like:
"But you don't understand, I'm trying so hard and I could save them so much pain if they would listen to me, and they are just so bent on doing it their own way, and they don't listen, and..."
Once when praying this way I had the very clear sense that He was saying to me
"Yes, because of course, Baby, I don't know anything about any of THAT."
"Oh..."(I realized I was the child in His answer.)
So this week as I watch all these lovely little moments unfold, I'm feeling nearly consumed with gratitude and wonder.
And the prayer for a suitable spouse? Not only is he a good match for her, bringing a laid back attitude to balance her slightly OCD self, but he was so seamlessly folded into our family that it almost feels like he's been here the whole time. So yesterday while walking and thinking of all this, I imagined God smiling ( slightly bemused, I'm sure) at what often seemed like prayers of desperation. He must have been thinking all along..."Just you wait."
"Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus" (Philippians 4:6-7).