Monday, May 21, 2012

This Post is Rated PA for Parental Anxiety

The following is a guest-post written by a Minneapolis friend, Erin. You can find her gorgeous work at Her thoughts are hilarious and all-too convicting. Amen, Erin!

Let’s just talk for a minute about the deep-seated desire to have angelic children and the anxiety that it brings on. The other day I tried to be brave and take my 3 kids grocery shopping. When I pulled up to Aldi, a men’s group home was dropping off a van load of guys, who happened to take up each of the 4 small aisles of the store. I tried to make it a quick trip but it resulted in no less than 2 time outs per boy, followed by a violent game of crack-the-whip based on my instructions to “hold hands and walk quietly.” My sweat drenched armpits should have been a good indicator that we needed to go home. So what did I do? I thought maybe I’d get a redo if I took them to Target—you can laugh now or later.

Once we got rolling on the giant cart at Target my boys proceeded to howl, at store-inappropriate decibels, like wolves as we cruised the aisles. The more kids we passed, the larger the wolf pack grew until we could hear other children several aisles over communicating with my own two wild beasts. I started to get dirty looks from the other moms and eventually one who turned her cart around and fled our aisle. I got home and was so frustrated at how my kids made me look. Why couldn’t they just sit respectfully and sort my coupons for me?! 
It wasn’t until a few days later when I told my mother-in-law this story that I realized how hilarious it really had been. I laughed hard as I told her about that day. But then I began to regret that I hadn’t giggled along with them, maybe thrown out my own “Awrooooooo!” I missed a chance to indulge in their creativity and instead succumbed to my own anxiety. Since when did my kids deserve to have such adult-like expectations placed on them?

Now, I’m not saying let your kids run willy-nilly and escape consequences. In fact the slap fights they were having resulted in more time outs near the canned beans. And later, after telling Lincoln for the hundredth time to stop climbing the cart, we had to have the “natural consequences” conversation after he fell out the back. Parenting is painful and constant and testing. And on top of that, when I let my anxiety get the best of me, my joy is taken from me.
I’ve spent time grieving the mistakes I’ve made and the ways I may have injured my children’s spirits by thoughtlessly scolding and stink-eyeing them into submission. But I’m learning to ask my children for forgiveness and also to not care about what the other little wolves’ mommies think of me. And I’ve spent a lot of time repeating Psalm 139:23-24 to myself:
Search me, O God, and know my heart;
Test me and know my anxious thoughts.
See if there is any offensive way in me,
And lead me in the way everlasting.

It’s a risky game to ask to be tested, but what a comfort that He knows my heart. Asking Him to reveal those offensive ways is humbling, especially when it comes to my parenting. Which is why it’s that much more necessary. These little human beings in my care are watching closely and if I’m being lead in “the way everlasting” I want my little pups following closely behind me.

1 comment:

  1. Oh goodness..."stink-eyeing them into submission." Ha! It hasn't worked for me yet, but not for lack of trying. ;) Which is so I really want to be remembered as being a grumpy, glaring mommy? Such good thoughts, Erin. (Also, your shopping trip sounds hilarious. Still glad it didn't happen to me, though.)