Thursday, October 2, 2014

Not Raising Robots

My husband and I have two perfect, custom-made perfectly functioning robots.  We have a male model and a female model.  They function according to specification and never veer from the pre-determined programming.  They are polite and well-mannered and respectful.

Our little robots

Except when they are not.  Their favorite pastimes these days seem to be burping and seeing how many times they can use the word "poop" in any given sentence.  

Wait.  What?  Who programmed them to do that?

The other day in church while someone was praying, the male model initiated a wrestling sequence which in turn caused the female model to squeal and protest rather loudly.  As I was shushing them and untangling appendages, it occurred to me that we are not raising robots.  We are raising people.  Little people with big ideas.  Little people with big feelings.  Little people with big opinions.  Oh boy, do we have big opinions.  

Opinions about what they wear, what they eat, what toys they need to take in the van, what toys they need to sleep with, whether it is worthwhile or not to actually brush their teeth....  I could go on, but I think my point is clear.  They have opinions-strong opinions-about EVERYTHING!

It is not that I ever really thought I was raising a robot, but sometimes I think I forget that they are children.  They aren't perfect.  They make mistakes.  They like to burp and say "poop" or "poopy" or "poopity doopity" or "pooperson"  (Believe me, the female model enjoys that every bit as much as the male model!)  They fight, they wrestle, they pester, they backtalk, they throw fits.  They challenge us every step of the way, and they wear us out.

Sometimes I feel like a failure.  I feel like I must be doing it all wrong, or they would not be so challenging.  I often feel like I am too hard on them, like I expect too much.  But there are other days when I feel like they get by with too much, like they walk all over me.  And some days I feel like I am too hard and too soft all at the same time.  (I don't even know how that is possible.)  Am I too much?  Am I too little?  Do I rescue them too much, or do I let them flounder when they really do need help?  

I used to think that good parents had easy children.  (I would like to take this minute to apologize to my former self for that bit of insanity.)

Not only did God make my children, but He made me.  He made me to be their mother and gifted me with all the qualities I need to do that job.

If I were the one to program "robots", I think I would leave out the mechanism that causes burping. Especially at the dinner table.  Or in restaurants.  I might omit the part that initiates the
whiny/arguing/backtalk stage.  But if I left those out, maybe I would miss something big.

Would I have thought to program the male model to come running at me from across the room and do a flying attack leap into my arms?  No, probably not.  And I would have missed out on all those wonderful boy hugs.  That boy can hug like nobody's business, but he does it in his own way and in his own time.  Also, his brain works so much differently than mine--no way could I have thought that up on my own.

Would I have put in the code for the girl that makes her whisper secrets like, "You are my best mama ever."  Nope.  Nor the part where she plays with my hair during Bible time, showering me with her affection.  How about when she spontaneously gives me a shoulder rub?  (Her little hands have magical powers when it comes to massage!)

So the thing is this:  I am not a robot, either.  Sometimes I mess up.  Sometimes I mess up more than others.  The words "losing my cool" have described me far too off recenntly.  I get angry and frustrated.  But I keep trying to get it right.  I know we have terrific kids, but some days it is more difficult to remember that than other days.  I need God's grace.  Every day, every hour, sometimes even more.  His grace is sufficient for me; his power is made perfect in my weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9).  Sometimes I just need to remember that they might need a little bit of grace too.

Some days I just don't have it in me to correct them one more time, to tell them no and initiate an argument, to stand my ground.  Some days all I have to give is a good example.  Since they are not robots, after all, we have to let them choose.  They choose their behaviors, just like we do.  Sometimes they make choices we are proud of.  Sometimes they make choices that we find aggravating or embarrassing.  As it turns out, they might be in need of a little grace themselves. 

What really matters in the end is that we keep pointing them back to a relationship with Christ.  If they see that in us and want it for themselves, then we have been successful (even if they let out a belch in the middle of communion meditation).

As for me and my house, we will choose the LORD.

Joshua 24:15

No comments:

Post a Comment