The moment I became a mama changed me forever.  His tiny hands, nose, feet, they mesmerized me.

I stayed awake for hours and hours and hours just watching him, only breathing when he did.

I wasn’t really a “baby person” before, so I had no idea of what to expect out of my feelings and I really had no clue how to properly change a diaper.

He was strong willed from the beginning, and struggled so with colic.  He cried and cried and I cried and cried and read all the books (excpet the best one when it comes to colicky, breastfed babes…i saved that for the second child).  He wore all the right clothes, and always looked presentable, and we adults jumped on board with Baby Wise like the best of them.  I was trying so hard.

Fast forward to having my little girl.  She was born in a blaze of epidural-failure-i-still-can’t-move-my-legs-but-i-can-feel-everything-else-glory, and I was just praising the Lord to have gotten her out of my body safely.  Then I cuddled up next to her, and slept the rest of the day.

And so it is with her life…she’s the go with the flow kid, the one that lets things roll of her back, the “laid-back” West.

Sometimes we leave the house with her hair less perfect and her clothes thrown on, and we definitely didn’t wash her pacifiers every single time they fell.

And, so it has been with the cycle of my parenting.

I think there’s quite a bit of hype on “how to parent.”  How to teach, how to discipline, how to love, how to be tough, how to train, how to, how to, how to.  So much so that much of the time we spend our days searching for the how to instead of living in the right now sharing with them a God who loves them fiercely…as is.

We toil and sow and sweat and break, all the while analyzing every outward behavior our kids show.  We balk at their disrespect for the rules, we challenge their nature to explore…for heaven’s sake, sometimes I yell at mine when they’re too loud because they’re having too much fun.

We want little adults in child-like bodies, and we don’t know why they would be anything else.

Except, when they were Knit, they came with stretched holes and loops bigger than others.  Their yarn is pulled just a bit, not much unlike yours and mine.  We open the drawer and look for the perfect masterpiece, and yet, they come tattered.  Somewhat damaged, somewhat earthly.  Perfectly Imperfect.

I must have read 60+ parenting books (p.s. not so neurotic as i’m an over-achiever and a fervent reader), and I learned some things along the way.  But all the books in the world can’t instill what’s most important.  The greatest lesson, though, I must say, I’ve learned so far is this simple, beautiful Truth:

I was given these imperfect hearts to nurture, to train.  They are fallen in a fallen world and their mistakes do not deserve my righteous anger but my discipline in Grace.  No amount of yelling or frustration can show them the love of something Bigger than myself, something even I do not deserve.   We’re in this together, them and me and Matt.

Am I saying there’s no need for training? Nope…all I’ll say is that I fear sometimes I parent them out of fear, distrust, and worry of what others think instead of what’s going on in their hearts.

We don’t talk about this, do we?  This unspoken loneliness in parenting–and even in our marriages–how to love fervently, bettering ourselves, yet bettering them.  We leave that part out at the soccer game–right?  I do.  We talk about what they like, the crazy things they say, and of course, we share their successes.

But do we talk about the real stuff?  The part that rips your heart out some days and you feel like a failure because they ___________.  Do we allow people to see that we don’t have it all together and ask for even our little people’s forgiveness?

It’s hard, friends.  Parenting in this behavior-trumps-heart world is hard.

Worth it?  Absolutely.

This has all been on my heart and mind so often while I’m writing this book, working so hard, and missing the extra moments I have with my own little people.  They are so good to me, though.

Full of Grace.

Since I’m not so great at small talk, I’d love to open a dialogue here today, much like we do at Christmas time when we share a little more here.  I’d like for us to get real, for us to share things together.  I’d like to pray with you over your own struggles and joys.  If there’s something you’d like for us to pray about, share it with us in the comments below or if you want, email me.

Take a breath today, friends.  I’d love to pray with you this morning…

God, you are Holy and mighty and thank you for saving us.  We fall before you knowing we are not enough on our own, and we try so. hard.  I pray that today, for just today, you will give us the Grace we need to take care of the little ones in our lives.  Replace my heart with yours and make it big enough to hold your desires for my children’s hearts.  Forgive me for my impatience, my disgust, my ugliness.  Give us Grace to know that you are in the midst of our situations, day in and out, and that we can take comfort in you, and let our guard down.  God, I pray that as our days get longer and harder that we find others to lean on, to encourage.  Help us not to go this life alone, pretending.  Thank you for honesty, and for those who we can be honest with.  Thank you for the gift of training little ones, the gift of shaping them.  Teach us that is a calling, not a burden, and give us renewed hearts as we approach this day.  Amen.

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