Saturday, May 03, 2014

lonely no more

I sat last night in a dark movie theatre with nate and his buddy, and it took everything in me not to have a full-on ugly cry.  and not because the movie was sad.  okay, well it's sad when tris' mom dies.  but divergent hadn't really started yet.  we were only on the trailers!

I've been having a crisis in parenting as of late.  it's not been my usual "I feel guilty for not feeling everyone else's mom guilt", but something that's been resounding just a wee bit deeper.  I've talked about it a bit around these parts, but those of you that follow me on facebook know more of the in-depth trials of parenting my second born.  he gives me a run for my money.  although he is a lot like his mama, he sees the world in black and white with no shade of grey {I'd like to think I am okay with the grey spaces in my world, but perhaps my perspective is slightly skewed!}.  he cares about justice and sees in justice in his own world.  "that's not fair!" is a resounding theme song in his life.  he his hard to parent on so many levels, but because I know he has a feisty, DON'T TOUCH ME kind of approach to life, I don't really worry about him.  I worry that he won't make it to his 9th birthday with me as his mother, but I don't worry that he'll walk away with a stranger.

and then there's my first born.

I have joked for years that I am the queen or the president of the bad mom's club.  I have never done a first day of school with either kid.  I let them quit things, especially if it's something I don't like.  I swear.  I drink.  I let them play outside instead of doing homework.  I feed them mcdonalds.  I buy fruit loops.  a lot.  I cave to their wants.  I forget to remind them to brush their teeth.  I forget our bedtime routine.  I've driven half way to school, only to realize that one of them wasn't buckled into the car correctly.  we yell.  we fight and disagree with each other.  there are tears.  a lot of mine.  more of theirs.  I don't ever feel like I'm doing an excellent job at parenting.  so I'm normal.  I'm not saying all of this because I am trying to play the martyr or to feel bad about myself, it's just the straight up, bare truth.  I am a flawed human who is trying really hard at bringing up other flawed humans.

I've been having some serious regret as of late.  I'm not even sure if regret is the correct word.  worry maybe?  I worry that my bad parenting has started to outweigh the good.  that maybe I'm at the end of the impressionable years.  that at 10 years old, I am more than half way through my years of influence and perhaps I haven't taken my responsibilities as seriously as I should have.  that it's too late.  when I look at the amount of damage in the world and the things that kids have to face, I worry.  a lot.  I worry that I haven't prepared my boys for the onslaught of social media and sexuality that is in the big, bad world.   I've seen a lot of stuff.  I'm not sure that I've prepared them for the harsh reality that being a teenager is really going to be all about.

the finality of it all perhaps struck me in the last few weeks as my family has dealt with the sudden illness and death of my grandmother.  it was my kids first real exposure to death, at an age where  they'll remember.  then at work, I've been dealing with some pretty big kid issues.  cyber bullying with some grade 5s.  kids living away from their parents, trying to cope.  big stuff.

and then there's my first born.

nate will be 11 this summer.  we're heading into the super-special pre-teen years.  one more school year until jr high.  he's my sweet hearted, loyal, kind boy.  he still loves his mama, and is clueless about the world.  he likes playing pranks and teasing, but isn't great having others tease him.  he likes me to pray with him every night before bed.  he's not a perfect kid by any stretch, but I like him.  he's fun to hang out with and we are able to have some great talks.

last night, I realized that perhaps all my misplaced fear is just that.  misplaced.  if I am, at 10, seeing a glimpse of what kind of man he'll become, then the good is outweighing the bad.  one of his best friends is a boy from korea.  watching the two boys interact reminds me of nate's good heart.  his friend talks in broken english, so nate just joined right in.  but nate never makes him feel bad because of his lack of language.  we realized when we got to the theatre that it was andy's very first movie theatre experience in canada, and only his second ever.  so we did the whole big thing with him...sodas, popcorn, candy.  and we had a ton of fun.  as we sat in that theatre, waiting for the movie to start, I started thinking of how grateful I am.  that letting my boys eat mcdonalds when I'm having a tough week at school isn't really having a huge affect on their character.  that when we fight loudly, that we also laugh loudly and demonstrate forgiveness.  that nate's ability to care for others who could be on the outside, has not been negated by my lack of showing up for the first day of school.  that staying up late on a friday night to go to a movie is about relationship building and moment making and not about bedtimes.

maybe what occurred to me even more so, is that I am so grateful that we've had almost 11 years of parenting.  that those years have been loud, happy, angry, frustrating, loving, boring, exciting and really the hardest 11 years of my life.  but I wouldn't trade it for anything, because in spite of my short comings, my kids do reflect all the good.  all the forgiveness.  all the kindness.  all the mercy.  all the passion.  and maybe most importantly, all the grace.  all the things I could possibly hope for from the young men I've been called to raise.

I know that I am blessed.  but this weekend, I've been reminded of how perfection is not a requirement of parenting.  but grace for my own imperfections, is completely required.

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