Note: I started writing this post 10 days ago, so I think I should just publish it and move on.
Parenting is hard. I mean it’s ridiculously, unbelievably hard. And we’re not sure that we’re doing such a bang-up job lately.
Someone always seems to be throwing a tantrum or telling us what she isn’t going to do. In fact, by 9:36 this morning, all three girls had pitched some variation of a fit. G refused to eat breakfast. S screamed that she hated diabetes because we couldn’t figure out why her blood sugar hit 338. And Number 3 decided that she was not going to accept any help with math, despite the fact that she can’t pronounce the word ratio. Yes, we had some good times at our house this morning.
Last month we made the decision to stop homeschooling our oldest child G. This is my last week teaching the first child that I taught to read. For now at least. We’ve enrolled her in a nearby private school so that I can spend my time just being her mom instead of being her teacher. It was a gut-wrenching decision to make, and it involved prayer, tears, more tantrums, and some painfully honest advice. And none of it has gone as planned.
You see, I’m a firstborn daughter. I’m organized, responsible, stubborn, and dependable. Once I decide to do something, I’m going to hang on until it’s done well. I graduated salutatorian of my high school class; I have a Phi Beta Kappa key. And last month I realized that I could no longer teach one of my children. That was really difficult to admit. But you know what? It was amazingly freeing, too.
I’m not envisioning that the rest of this academic year is going to be smooth sailing. Ryan and I are preparing ourselves for some big bumps in the road ahead of us. I already know that I’m going to have to learn to keep my mouth shut when G brings home work that I wouldn’t assign. I also know that I need to let my child struggle–or even fail–in order to take ownership of her own education. I also imagine I’m going to be increasing my weekly mileage in order to help her learn how to negotiate for herself.
(Here’s how I tried to finish this piece 5 days ago.)
Remember how I wrote that parenting is hard about 5 paragraphs ago? Well, this whole week has been hard. Especially today. Today is most likely the last day I will formally teach my oldest child. I had envisioned that we’d tie up a few loose ends, finish a science review, and grade one last math test. I borrowed a DVD of the Muppets’ Christmas Carol to wrap up the week we’ve just spent on Dickens’ Christmas classic.
That’s not how today has gone. G tore up her final project for A Christmas Carol. I don’t know if she’s finished her math test or her science review because she isn’t talking to me. Kermit and Miss Piggy are on indefinite hold. Oh, and the counselor’s office returned my phone call from Monday. They may or may not be able to see her in three weeks. The office manager told me just to “hang in there” since G’s problems aren’t life-threatening. I wanted to growl back in response.
I went for a run while the girls ate lunch. I cried in the shower. I threw on a load of laundry and drove the girls to their art lesson. H is pestering me to play Uno with her because that’s important to a 7 year old. I played two hands with her, but my heart is hurting.
I want to act like a 12-year-old. I want to stomp up the stairs, slam all the bedroom doors, throw the laundry on the floor, and shred something made out of paper. It hurts to have a child who is hurting. It hurts to have a child who thinks she doesn’t need her mother any more. And it hurts that I have to let my child figure out how to grow up and solve her own problems.
I need some grace today. I need the grace that God promises is sufficient to meet all of my needs. And I need to dole out a healthy amount of grace towards my sometimes-snarly, sometimes-sweet, always-unpredictable daughter.
Did I mention that parenting is hard?