FREEDOM: Parenting.

9/28
((from Jessica))

It’s 9:33 AM and not only is my daughter parked on the couch in front of a full-length movie with a ginormous bowl of popcorn, but she is also wearing 18-month-old jammies she started wearing on Sunday.

Folks, it’s Tuesday and she’s 3.

And as I sit on the other couch drinking a cup of coffee with a Pinterest screen open in front of me, I find myself thinking, “Sheesh! I’m the world’s worst mom!”

Sure, I’ve fed her breakfast and sure, I’ve braided her plastic pony’s mane and sure, I’ve talked her off the ledge when she burst into tears because she spoiled my birthday surprise (“Mommy! We bought you new shoes for your birthday!) but shouldn’t I be at a park exploring the great outdoors? Shouldn’t I be conducting a toddler science experiment, or reviewing letter sounds, or doing laundry, or making a grocery list, or something else that looks a little more engaged and productive than a bowl of popcorn, Pixar, and no real pants?!

And as I sit and attempt to battle these guilt-ridden thoughts that bombard the ship of my mama mind, I am reminded (again) by the lack of freedom that comes when we, parents, impose these crazy standards and unrealistic expectations on ourselves.

Since when does popcorn with no real pants in front of a movie make me the “world’s worst mom”?!

Since when does popcorn and no pants get lumped in a category where abuse and consistent neglect should be found?

WHEN?!?!

That’s crappy crap. And I think we ALL (yes, I’m assuming that one, or twelve, or all of ya) need to stop whispering that lie out loud and inside your parent-head because it’s just not true, or fair, or kind.

And we do it ALL the time about ALL kinds of things.

I serve them mac-n-cheese with a side of MSG laden fruit snacks… world’s worst mom!

I skip out on swim lessons for the second summer in a row… world’s worst mom!

I let them stay up until 10:45 PM… world’s worst mom!

forget choose not to take the time to brush their teeth… world’s worst mom!

I buy them Luna Bars at the beginning of a grocery trip to keep them quiet… world’s worst mom!

I pour soda/pop (or whatever the heck your part of the country calls it) straight into their sippies… world’s worst mom!

I turn off the monitor and let them scream it out… world’s worst mom!

I am the only mom who forgot to send my kid with a long-sleeve undershirt to wear under his soccer jersey… world’s worst mom!

I feed them a meal without remembering to bow our heads… world’s worst mom!

I didn’t use the discipline as a moment to preach the Gospel… world’s worst mom!

I lose my temper, yell, and emulate all the things that do NOT grow on the Spiritual Fruit tree… world’s worst mom!

I lie and give them some shady excuse because I’m completely OVER shepherding their hearts… world’s worst mom!

I care more about outward obedience than inward change on a Tuesday morning before school… world’s worst mom!

On and on it goes. Feel free to insert your “worst-parent-ism” if you haven’t already; those are just a few of the many that have threatened to beat down my mama heart.

Parent comrades, I think this name-calling and parent-labeling is all kinds of UN-helpful and distorted; I really do. But more importantly,  I believe it’s ANTI-GOSPEL.

I believe it produces an environment of comparison among parents. I believe it feeds us this distorted and sinful belief that “We can… and we should… always have it together.” I believe it creates a space for us to find our identity in our “goodness,” our “abilities,” and in our “togetherness.” And bottom line, I believe it shackles us to the very slavery He rescued us from and the costly freedom He bought.

“It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” Galatians 5:1

Friends, He came to set us free from our sin and our shame. He died to fulfill the Law and overcome our efforts. He laid it ALL down, so that we could have a NEW NAME. He became what we couldn’t and still can’t.

PERFECT = HIM.

PERFECT = Not us.

And because He sacrificed and shed His sinless blood, we no longer have to attain any kind of status, label, or title in any area of our parenting lives. We don’t have to be the “best parent,” and we don’t have to fear being “the worst.” We no longer have to strive to be “good enough,” “on enough,” or “spiritual enough.” We no longer have to do “all the perfect things” the magazines parade, our friends post, and our distorted thoughts scream. We no longer have to shackle ourselves to a set of earthly expectations that seek to steal the joy and squelch the peace that He came to bring.

And because of all THAT, our identity as believers (an identity that trumps the “Dada” and “Mama” card) isn’t based on us being “good enough”, because we aren’t. It isn’t about “the good we do”, because we don’t. And it isn’t about our “togetherness”, because we can’t.

Our “good enough” is based on HIS goodness and HIS grace.

Our “good we do” is based on HIS sacrifice and HIS sanctifying work.

Our “togetherness” is based on HIS promise and HIS person.

I will never and can never be the “perfect parent” (not by the world’s standards, not by my personal standards, and certainly not by His standards), and I don’t have to be. I can fumble the “parent ball,” and there is grace. I can fall short in my “mama game,” and there is mercy. I can downright fail at being the kind of parent I hope and want to be, and there is still FREEDOM.

“Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death.” Romans 8:1

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