Summer is hard.
I don’t know if you’ve noticed that yet, but summer is really, really hard.
I keep settling into these brief moments of calm, sinking into them with intention and purposefully slow breathing. A quarrel hems me into this calm I’ve somehow managed to climb into, and I just keep breathing against the petulance assaulting my ears that would give almost anything for a piece of quiet.
I’m not a homeschooling mom for good reason. The multitude of reasons is best summed up in the plain, simple truth that it’s not what God wants for our family in this season of our lives. When school ended and my daughter came home to be with us for every hour of every day for the entire summer, her school-scheduled life collided with her little brother’s mostly home-scheduled life and the quarreling began. This petulance that assaults my ears without mercy.
We’ve spent the last three weeks figuring out how to share ourselves again, how to give each other the benefit of grace, how to listen and speak the words we mean, how to stay quiet, how to fill up the bored spaces, how to be alone in our rooms. In short, we’ve spent the last three weeks quarreling like the Israelites in the desert, and I’ve more than once felt like Moses striking his staff against a rock out of sheer frustration with these petulant, whiny people clawing at my ankles all the livelong day.
I’ve spent a lot of time in the Word of God these last three weeks. I wrote on the first page of my latest composition book turned journal on June 1st, and I’ve already used 33 pages of it. I’m a third of the way through the notebook already.
It’s been a long, hard three weeks.
As I look over these 33 pages of prayers, Bible verses, reflections, notes – lifeblood – a motif rises up from the hurriedly scrawled sentences:
Our desire is for Your name and renown.
I’m learning anew this summer that parenting isn’t so much about my kids and what they want or need. It isn’t so much about their sin, their goodness, their interests, or their quarrels.
Parenting is about Him, because everything is about Him. Because
there is no one like Him.
He is great;
His name is great in power.
Who should not fear Him,
King of the nations?
It is what He deserves.
For among all the wise people of the nations,
and among all their kingdoms,
there is no one like Him.
Jeremiah 10:6-7, paraphrased
I am going to blunder every single day of my life. I am going to say words and commit actions that cause my children to need to see a therapist someday. I am going to hurt them, to steer them wrong, to wound them, because I am an imperfect human. There is no avoiding it. I will never get it completely right this side of Glory.
So parenting has to be about Him. It has to be about submitting to Him, diligently, joyfully, lovingly following Him. Listening to His voice, welcoming His forgiveness, embracing His gladness. Living in the absolute truth that I am one radically loved by God.
Two pairs of beautiful brown eyes are watching me. My two little pitchers have big ears, as Caroline Ingalls would say. Their hearts are soft and malleable. Their minds are vessels filling up with all manner of knowledge. They see when I make much of Him. They see when I make much of me. They see when I make much of them.
It can’t be about them. It can’t be about me. It has to be about Him. It has to be about the One who can take all of my blunders and all of their childhood and bring forth redemptive goodness for His renown.
So, I keep opening up my Bible and my journal each morning. I keep reading through whatever He presses into me, praying through whatever comes, breathing through the quarrels, smiling through the growing pains, laughing through the idiocy, confessing my utter desperation for Him all along the way. I keep remembering what I’ve disremembered about Him and joy and the fact that my boundary lines have indeed fallen in pleasant places, because what is true is true all the time, not just some of it. This life I have right now – this is my real life. This is their real life. This is our life. This is it.
What a shame it would be to waste it on anything other than His renown.