I once thought that being a good parent meant always remaining on top. Mom and Dad were always right, and the answer to any ΓÇ£Why?ΓÇ¥ is ΓÇ£Because I said so.ΓÇ¥
I was wrong.
My husband was away for work, and I was home alone with all three boys. The single-mom life and I have never meshed well, and I was drained. A TotinoΓÇÖs Party Pizza and Netflix were waiting to comfort and reward me for getting all three in bed, but the clock moved at a sloth-like pace.
The 1-year-old went first: PJs on, bottle consumed, cheeks kissed, and prayed over. Deep breath. Almost there.
I turned my attention to the two olders. Within minutes, my insides began to simmer and then boil as request after request to ΓÇ£Get your pajamas on! Brush your teeth! STOP sitting on your brother!ΓÇ¥ fell on deaf ears.
I lost it. With a voice that made even demons run and hide, I screamed at them, ΓÇ£WILL YOU JUST LISTEN TO ME FOR ONE MINUTE?!ΓÇ¥
Both boys stopped and stared. The 4-year-old began to cry immediately, head to his chest uncertain about what heΓÇÖd done. My oldest yelled back, ΓÇ£YouΓÇÖre being a bad mom!ΓÇ¥ I could see the mix of rage and hurt plastered on his boy-becoming-young-man face. My heart sank. He was right.
I had let their disobedience justify my angry outburstΓÇöand I was wrong.
Just like that, all three of us were in tears. I got down on my knees in front of them and said, ΓÇ£Boys, youΓÇÖre right. Mama yelled at you out of anger, and that wasnΓÇÖt okay. Will you please forgive me? I love you.ΓÇ¥
The spirit in the room changed immediately, a peace redeeming the rage from moments before. They quickly forgave, like most kids do, and we went on to talk about how we all could have made better choices that evening. Eventually, all hearts were clear, and all three boys sound asleep.
As I devoured my tiny pizza, I thought about the night. It was my repentanceΓÇönot my scary mommy yell of terrorΓÇöthat reached their hearts. Something in my soul began to snap into place.
I realized being a broken parent doesnΓÇÖt mean youΓÇÖre a bad parent.
Our job isnΓÇÖt to perform perfectly. It isnΓÇÖt to manufacture well-behaved kids or top scholars, athletes, or artists. (Thank the good Lord, because IΓÇÖd be failing miserably.) Our calling is to point our kids to God, to help them aim for His pleasure and His glory.
By asking our kids for forgiveness, we reveal our need for Jesus, giving those little hearts a front-row seat to see repentance and redemption at work. And in the process, we get over our parental pride and shift authority back to where it should be: in the hands of an ever-faithful and forgiving God.
ΓÇ£But he said to me,┬áΓÇÿMy grace is sufficient for you, for┬ámy power is made perfect in weakness.ΓÇÖ┬áTherefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that┬áthe power of Christ may rest upon me.ΓÇ¥ – 2 Corinthians 12:9 (ESV)