I would consider myself a pretty confident person. In fact, I would say that I have always been fairly confident about myself and my abilities. I never really struggled with school. I always had a knack for sports or physical activities. I was never excellent at one particular sport or subject, but always picked things up easily and felt good trying out something new.
I wouldn’t say I was overly confident when it came to guys or my looks. Though I was probably the first homecoming queen in history who didn’t have a date to the Homecoming Dance, things like that didn’t break me or cause me to not really know who I was or where I was headed in life.
Yes, confidence would probably be on the list of “What are 3 words that describe you?”.
But, I have found the one thing that is trying to break my confidence. The one thing that is not just “something I do” or something that I am trying out to see how I like it. No, it’s the ONE THING that is second only to my primary vocation as a wife. It is the ONE THING that will never, ever end and I may not ever get right.
When I got pregnant with my son, I guess everyone was too busy telling me congrats and “oh, how wonderful, a new baby!” to really point out how difficult parenthood really is. How did all my friends and family leave that out? Why wasn’t that written in the notes of congratulations and “welcome baby” cards?
And, when they all found out and welcomed Lil’ Miss #2 into the world, why didn’t they tell me that having TWO kids is a whole NEW ball game? That the parenting doesn’t get easier or less stressful when there’s more than one. No, no. It’s just harder, more confusing, challenging, and difficult.
Parenthood is tough stuff. It’s a daily grind of trying to maintain order and sanity around your home while teaching your kids how to function as part of the family and society at large.
Of making sure they are educated.
Of helping them develop a moral conscience and a love for the faith.
Of trying to explain for the millionth time what is acceptable behavior and what isn’t.
Of trying to get them to EAT SOMETHING (and, if you’re lucky, something somewhat healthy).
Of making sure they enjoy some media, but not too much; enjoy the outside without getting too close to the street or getting kidnapped or having to go to the emergency room.
Of showing them love and compassion all while being a disciplinarian and “the boss.”
I haven’t met a fellow parent (especially mothers) who doesn’t question, on a daily basis, whether or not we are doing the “right things” for our kids. Their health, their safety, their education, their upbringing, their actions, how I handle this situation or that situation. Am I doing it right? Am I messing up my kid forever by letting him watch TV? Will he forever be unhealthy if I can’t/don’t get him to eat his vegetables? Will he leave the Church if I send him to public school?
If you think I am saying these things in jest, then you must not be a parent yet or you are a perfect and confident parent (and, if you are the latter, I’d like to meet you and understand how you did it!). For the rest of us, though, these thoughts and a million more pass through our heads constantly.
But, we chose it. And, we can’t turn back or give it up. The only option is to go forward, trusting in our abilities and ultimately, in the Lord’s kindness and mercy, to help us to manage this overwhelming and endless task.
How can we know if we’re doing things “right” or not? We can’t. We can only pray each and everyday…
…for our children to make the best choices in their lives.
…for our children to be safe and healthy and live for many years, through the mercy of God.
…that those kids of ours will have some understanding of the depth of our love and our devotion to them.
…that God will give us patience and wisdom so that we don’t lose our minds and will be able to handle the years of no sleep with newborns, power struggles with toddlers, homework hassles with middle schoolers, awkwardness with jr. highers, disrespect and poor decisions from teens, and letting them go off as college students.
I may lack confidence in my skills as a parent. But, I don’t lack confidence in the steadfast love and constant presence of Our Lord who would never hang us out to dry when it comes to handling parenthood.