When You're Doing It All Wrong
"We're not going to wait this long with the next one," has become our most recent motto. With our daughter now over a year old and another on the way, my husband and I have been discussing all the things we'd like to do differently this next time around.
In many ways, we feel as though we've messed up. A lot of our regrets in parenthood revolve around the things that we feel we waited too long to start doing. Putting her in the nursery at church. Having her sleep in her own crib. Leaving her with a babysitter. Setting boundaries so we don't lose our minds. And -- dare I say those dreaded two words? -- sleep training.
We can't help but feel a little self-conscious about the fact that our fourteen-month-old still gets rocked to sleep every night and doesn't last two minutes in the nursery without screaming. We look around at what all the other parents and one-year-olds are doing and we start to think that maybe we're doing it all wrong. And so we've become determined to not make the same mistakes again, wanting to finally do it "right."
But here's the truth I've been having to remind myself of, and it's probably a lesson I'll be learning for a longer while still -- It's tempting to hold onto regret and wish for do-overs, to look back on mistakes and just want to kick yourself over and over again.
But part of parenting means being able to let go -- of expectations, of control, of regrets and mistakes, and even of our children themselves.
It was never the Lord's intention for us to control and obsess, to fixate and fix. And living with regret is the opposite of living out the victory He's secured for us.
Every time we beat ourselves up for the things we can't change or fantasize about fixing our mistakes, we are choosing fear, guilt, and shame over his deepest desire for our lives, which is for us to trust in the Lord. Trusting that His Son took our place, that His grace is true, that His love is boundless.
That it is for freedom He has set us free.
I'm imagining what this freedom means for us as mothers. Imagining what motherhood could be like if we were to stop wishing for do-overs and instead just celebrate that His mercies are new every morning (Lamentations 3:23). Imagining how much more confident we would be if we stopped comparing our parenting experience to everyone else's and instead just trusted that we're right where we're meant to be. Imagining the peace that could come from accepting that we will never get it all right and we will never be the perfect parents and that that is more than okay.
These are the things burning in my heart, begging me to reexamine the way I see and do things.
Could less than perfection be good enough for me if it means that I'm learning how to let go and trust? If every earnest, desperate prayer leads me closer to His heart? If every twinge of suffering brings my focus back to the Cross? If every regretful mistake is used as a reminder of His unfailing grace and love?
I don't know my answer to those questions yet. I'm still in the middle of the wrestling, still figuring out what it means to set my eyes on things above.
But I do know this: that part of God's design for motherhood is for us to be brought to a place where we begin to ask those questions and hopefully -- eventually -- find the answers.
I hope that these words stir some longing deep inside you, that they cause you to pause in reflection -- not a reflection of all you've done wrong and all you'd like to do differently, but rather a reflection on what the Lord has done. In your moments of weakness when all you had to rely on was His strength. The hard discipline and the growing pains meant for your good. All the times you were given a deeper understanding of the Lord's love.
We're never going to get everything right. We may not get anything right. But how much better it is to get a thousand things wrong than to miss out on walking in the Lord's victory!