Thursday, October 28, 2010
Parenting Drive Thru
Startled awake by a tentative teenage whisper…”Mom?”
This is a morning I was going to sleep in – thus the ‘tentative whisper’. “Mom, I missed the bus” followed by a litany of reasons why it wasn’t her fault again. Before I throw off the covers, I first have to throw off the parenting battle in my mind. You know the one. The ‘Good Cop/Bad Cop’ routine like the one in the movies where the cartoon angel sits on one shoulder and the cartoon devil sits on the other...
Good Parent - “If you continue to rescue her, she’ll never learn responsibility’.
Bad Parent – “You merciless woman! You want her to remember her mama as full of grace & mercy - don’t you?”
Good Parent – “Yes, but she isn’t learning! I only have three more short years to equip her with what she needs to make it in the world as a responsible adult!”
Bad Parent – “She’ll be FINE. She’s only fifteen for goodness sake. Look at her eyes! Don’t make a big deal out of this now and ruin our morning of ‘peace’.”
So before I form words or let anything leak from my lips, I throw up a cry for help… “Help me Lord! Quick – I have three seconds to open my mouth with the Wisdom of Solomon!”
I feel like I just drove up to the fast food speaker and yelled out… ‘Quick, I want a large remedy, two juicy bits of insight, and one come back, hold the sarcasm. And… supersize that please!”
Please tell me you are familiar with this oh-too-frequent storyline at my house. Are you wondering what kind of insty-wisdom I doled out on this particular morning? I think I blew right past the first drive through window at “HELPMEJESUS” and started in on a calm, but predicable rant of mom-isms which my daughter was expecting as the high cost for her small crime. Unfortunately, it’s a ramble for which she could have written the script.
We failed at our effort to intercept the bus in our neck of the woods and I resigned myself to drive all the way to the high school in my pajamas and slippers. Only then did I breathe deeply in surrender and allow God to fill my mouth (and heart) with the real deal. I focused on the purpose of parenting and let go of my selfish motives. My job is to teach and prepare. I explained once again the real world consequences would ‘cost’ her something if mom wasn’t here to rescue her. What might they be? Taxi fare, having her pay docked if it were work or staying late to redeem the time, trading a neighbor babysitting for a ride… or the unthinkable, barbaric alternative… WALKING!
So she coughed up five dollars of hard earned babysitting money for gas and agreed to scrub the kitchen floor tonight to trade me for my precious time. I even earned a fabulous ‘tip’ - a Caribou coffee card! Even MORE fabulous was that I received a full sentence thank you upon dropping at school, WITH EYE CONTACT! My mama heart was encouraged.
Ok, so not all my parenting moments end on such a hopeful note. Home now, I sit down to talk to God about it, enjoy another sip of the Fufu Coffee my daughter bought and sigh heavily. I look into his face again, my perfect Father, the ultimate parent. His loving eyes and knowing smile cause me to melt in humility. I am struck with one question…
“How do you manage to keep teaching and parenting ME all these 47 years?”
I often imagine him turning to Jesus at times, sadly shaking his head, saying… “Tracy just doesn’t seem to be learning this lesson. She’ll need to know this for her future. We can’t move on until she ‘gets it’ and is equipped for what is ahead. Let’s give her another situation to practice.”
Unlike me, God as my parent is not easily angered or frustrated. He does not measure his parenting competency by my behavior, failures or successes. When I ‘miss the bus’, when I am slow to learn, he doesn’t rant and rave, he doesn’t panic and fear that time will run out, or that he will deplete the stash of love or patience to stay fully engaged. He is so good at this parenting thing! He perseveres with us as his children, never failing, never giving up hope. He promises “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you and help you.” “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” “I will finish the good work I started in you long ago. I will continue teaching, growing you, molding you, shaping you, until the day I come to get you”.
He is a good Father. I want to GROW UP and be like my heavenly Daddy. Although I will always be a parent and the seasons will change, these last three or four years in our home, I will be frequenting the ‘FAST WISDOM’ Parenting Drive-thru a lot! I know where my help comes from. And I am assured of this; My children will not just ‘survive’ my raising them. They will flourish because the perfect parent is overseeing their very lives, their instruction, their preparation for the future. He will not allow my shortcomings to negate his purposes for them. He not only parents me, he is parenting my children. My portion of the parenting race he gave me to run is nearing the finish. My job is to pass the baton to him. As a track runner knows, the last runner is the Anchor. He is the best. He can make up any lost time and bring the victory for the whole team! Thank God!
More to nibble on…