Let me just go ahead and put it out there - I am a perfectionist. I can make my handwriting nearly perfect. I have been known to clean grout with a toothbrush. I was the annoying kid in college who scored 116% on tests by doing all the extra essay questions. Hate me now, go ahead, but I am a people pleasing person and if someone in authority says jump, I have been known to go buy a trampoline so that I can jump higher than they ever thought I would.
Can you see where this is going in relation to my parenting? Not good places, not good places.
You see, I have unrealistic expectations all around. I want my kids to be award winning, perfectly mannered little geniuses AND I want to never make any mistakes myself, and eventually be presented with some big tacky gold star award for BEST MOTHER EVER. If it was encrusted with diamonds, that would be okay.
I mean, if none of us are standing next to a measuring stick I am pretty normal. I want my kids to be kind, happy and healthy, and I want myself to be the same. I want them to love learning and have a good work ethic.
Suddenly, however, we are in a school context where there are tests ALL THE TIME and conduct reports every five minutes and school seems like one big measuring stick that my kids are lined up against. Note after note comes home about this performance goal and that standard, and your kid has this many points accrued in the reading competition (and it's not enough) and have you thought about math tutoring, and everyone check for head lice, and do your kids drink enough water, and are you quizzing your multiplication facts every day, and how about the online booster tutoring you could avail yourself of, are you practicing enough for band to earn your merit sticker, and, and, and... I wonder if the teachers stop and count up the time it would take to do the homework PLUS all the extras they are always plugging? It's really impossible, man.
So anyway, one of my kids is struggling at school. It's just all too much, and behavior is breaking down under the load. It's been embarrassing to be the parent called into the office to discuss your child's offences. I've really struggled with stress, anxiety, and even depression over how my child is doing.
I am having so much trouble separating myself from my child's choices. I am having trouble separating my child's poor choices from my child as a whole person. It's been a rocky patch.
I am ashamed and embarrassed, which doesn't aid my parenting skills.
So I've been reading the creation story in Genesis and it got me to thinking. God is the PERFECT Father. He is flawless, without weakness, misguided intentions, lack of resource or insight, and he does not run low on compassion. He is complete, and entirely perfect as a parent.
Then there's Eden - a perfectly safe environment with EVERY need provided for. Adam and Eve were absolutely safe and cared for. God was a perfect Father, and they were in a perfect home, if you will. Everything was golden.
Even though they were set up for success as much as any two people could have been, Adam and Eve made an independent choice that got them into a lot of trouble.
I'm starting to think that the brilliance in the story is that God had a way to continue forward in life and relationship woven into the fabric of time, regardless of mankind doing the right thing.
Knowing that God was perfect, and His kids were set up to succeed, and they STILL screwed up helps me feel so much relief. I don't have to be perfect. My children don't have to be perfect. When they mess up there is a way forward, and we'll get there together. It won't always be easy, and it certainly won't be free of consequences for getting off track, but we don't have to do it alone.
What comfort and hope there is in that truth!