Before this whole parenting thing became a reality, I was pretty sure that I was going to be awesome at being a mom. After all, I had the credentials for it. Babysitting was my main gig throughout all of middle school and high school. Almost every volunteer position and summer job I ever had was wrangling kids. I received two degrees in elementary education and worked at a daycare while doing so. I taught for 6 years: 1st grade, 2nd grade, and 5th grade. I even spent time training with a behavioral psychologist on handling challenging behaviors at one of my schools. Raising one or two kids? My own kids? How hard could it be?
Fast forward. (And stop laughing).
Yesterday morning, a child-who-shall-not-be-named lost her ever-loving mind. It all started in the car with a forgotten lunchbox that mommy wouldn’t go back home for. It evolved quickly into chair kicking, screaming “But I WANT it!” repeatedly, and taking shoes off so they could be thrown as projectile missiles. We got to school and we sat in the parking lot and battled it out. For t.w.e.n.t.y. minutes.
One would think, that because I have had so much “experience” and “training,” that I could handle a simple temper tantrum. That I would not, in a moment of insanity, imitate the child-who-shall-not-be-named’s whiny/screaming voice back at them. That I would not threaten to take away every toy she has in her room. That I would not be crying in the front of the car while my kid is raging in the back because NOTHING I SAY OR DO IS MAKING IT ANY BETTER AND I FEEL LIKE A TERRIBLE MOM.
So then I did what any reasonable mom would do…called dad. At first, he couldn’t even hear me on the phone because of the volume level of screaming. I put him on speaker and he told the child-who-shall-not-be-named to take deep breaths. He calmly told her that he loved her no matter what, and miraculously, she snapped out of it. (Note: although this is completely illogical and immature, this made me even more mad that she listened to her dad AND NOT TO ME).
Finally, I dropped the girls off at their classrooms, ran back to the car through the now-pouring-down-rain, and laid my head on the steering wheel. As I drove, I beat myself up about what I had said and how I had handled the morning. The rain and general gloominess of the day was not doing anything to improve my mood (although it was great weather for my giant pity party).
We’ve been having these sorts of outbursts every few days and I am worn out. I keep asking: am I not patient enough? not grace-giving enough? not consistent enough? not, not, not, not enough?
As these questions spun through my mind, I turned the corner and saw a huge, bright, completely perfect rainbow spanning across the sky. And in that moment, I heard God answer my question very clearly.
No. You are not enough.
Wait. What? I’m pretty sure that’s not what the inside of the hallmark card says.
You are not enough. But I am.
Truthfully, I was kind of hoping for more of a pep talk.
You are not enough. But I am.
I mulled those two phrases over all day long. The more I thought about them, the more I realized that they were exactly what I needed to hear.
I am not enough. I do not have all the answers, strategies, practices, or ideas. I am not forgiving enough, graceful enough, patient enough, or creative enough. I mess up. Daily. I am not a perfect wife, mother, daughter, or friend. I cannot read enough blogs, articles, books, and studies to figure this all out on my own.
I am not enough. But He is.
This truth is so freeing! I serve a God who does not expect me to be enough. Instead, he promises to use my weaknesses. In 2 Corinthians 12:9, Paul writes, “But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.”
I am not enough, but I do not need to be, because I place my trust in the one who is. And the better news? He loves my kids even more than I do. I don’t need to keep striving and stressing about doing everything the right way all the time.
Yesterday afternoon, after my ginormous mom fail of a morning, I picked up my child-who-shall-not-be-named from school and took her to get some frozen yogurt. I asked her to forgive me for not acting nicely. She apologized for “yelling so loud” and we talked about how everyone makes mistakes sometimes. We ate our pumpkin and chocolate yogurt and discussed important pre-school gossip like who is going to be what for Halloween.
Parenting is a bumpy ride and I know there will be many, many, many more of these moments to come. They look like temper tantrums now, but as my littles grow into mediums and bigs, the obstacles will grow, too. I’m praying now that this lesson stays close to my heart. Because when I embrace the truth that I am not enough? Then I lean wholly on a God who is.