Monday, February 16, 2015

Straight Lines

I am a product of the self-esteem movement.  At least I'm pretty sure that I must be, since I seem to feel terrible about myself unless I can find at least one thing at which I am proficient.

With complete assurance, I will tell you that parenting is not on my Feel Good About Yourself Because You're a Rock Star list.

If I could name a few things that might go on that list they would be as follows:
1. Changing diapers.  Yes.  I can change a diaper.  Any diaper, any mess.  I've got it.

2. Cheesecake.  I take no credit for this really, because it's my family's recipe and my dad taught me how to make it.  Now having a lot of practice, I can make a pretty good cheesecake.  Unless it's lumpy...

3. Sewing (relatively) straight lines.  Of course, I would prefer that you didn't look too closely at those straight lines because sometimes they're not so pretty.  My machine does a funny thing sometimes with the bobbin thread...and well, I'm not perfect.  But I can make one heck of a wash cloth!

See.  Parenting is not on this list.  Why?  Because parenting is complex and never-ending and requires a whole lot of selflessness (not to mention a heap of wisdom) that I just don't possess in and of myself.

The past couple of weeks have been particularly challenging.  One child is sneaking into snack foods.  This morning it was cocoa powder.  I guess since the "good" stuff is all stashed in out of sight and out of reach places, powdered chocolate seemed like a good alternative?  I think the immediate consequence was the shock of how aweful that stuff tastes without a ton of sugar.

Then there are the tantrums.  Yes.  Tantrums.  Hundreds of them from every age of child we have in our household.  Except the 1-year-old.  Keep that in mind because it holds the key to something I will say in a moment.

And can I just say that no one ever told Claude and I that we would need to talk with our 6-year-old daughter about dating?  Recently she got herself in a terrible pickle when some kid at Awanas (our church's evening program for kids) asked if she "liked" him and if she would be his "friend".

She said, "Yes," and "I don't know".  Apparently the kid swooned.  Literally.  We even had a demonstration.

Now, in the above case, this is when I am thankful for a firstborn who, even with relentless training and correcting, must interrupt any and every conversation within earshot, knows how to be rude, can be very hard to get along with, and loves to police any situation he can.  (Unless he's trying to police the cocoa powder, in which case he'd rather just have a taste.)  And I am thankful that the aforementioned firstborn is in the same Awanas class as his sister who is being pursued by blonde-haired, blue-eyed, Mr. Popular. 

Sorry...that was a bit of an aside.

As these situations present themselves, it has become increasingly apparent to me that when it comes to parenting I have absolutely no clue what I am doing.

And this is where I will make two points.

The first point is that sewing straight lines is a beautiful, therapeutic endeavor.  While parenting is a twisted, back-tracking, mangled mess as you wind your way through a dense jungle of attitudes, behaviors, and situations, sewing is the smooth, wide, and straight road that leads to sanity.  And it makes me feel good about myself.  See the self-esteem thing?

Case in point.  I sewed these wash cloths this week, along with three children's aprons, three pioneer skirts, and a pair of maternity jeans.  Thank you, Audrey, for the free fabric!

The second point that I would like to make is this: Everybody needs a 1-year-old.  Having a baby around the house who is super cute and cuddly, sleeps through the night (not really), and doesn't throw tantrums is amazing.  You'll feel great about your parenting automatically just by looking at the little tike and having warm fuzzy feelings each and every time.  See, there's the self-esteem thing again!

Case in point.  Rachel.  Just give her a bottle and/or a book and she's good to go.

And here's the third point.  I know, I know...I said I only had two, but I can't just leave it at that.

There is no job, no activity, no task that has ever humbled me so much as parenting.  It really does send me to my knees.  Or rather, the bathroom...because that's where I can lock the door.  *smiles*  And it causes me to seek God in His infinite wisdom, strength, and understanding.

So, in the midst of sneaking cocoa, throwing tantrums, and six-year-old dating troubles, you will find me asking for wisdom from the only One who has it to offer.

And you'll probably find me sitting at the sewing machine, taking deep breaths while I convince myself that I can, indeed, get up and do this all over again for at least the next 20 years worth of tomorrows.

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