A few years back, my daughter and I were having a conversation about some wild, crazy thing she did when she said simply: “I bet when you had kids you never thought you’d end up with someone like ME!”
She was absolutely right.
You see, when I had children, I just assumed my they would be like me.
And I’ve always been the rule follower.
Growing up, I was rarely in trouble at school or with my parents.
Any desire I had to be rebellious or tell someone what I really thought was immediately overridden by my need for peace. And my need to please others. (All this performance-junkie behavior came back to bite me later, of course.)
The wildest, craziest thing I remember doing growing up was getting my ears double pierced. Gasp.
I expected that they would also be calm. Mostly reasonable. Eager to please. Perfect.
And all I can say is this:
Thank God my kids aren’t perfect.
Now I haven’t always thought this way. The tantrum at the birthday party that required two other mothers to help me get my preschooler to the car?
That time in Books-a-Million when I was chasing my screaming child down the aisles while the other children were sitting with hands folded listening to story time?
The continual boundary pushing and questioning during the endlessly rocky and exhausting middle school years?
These were not the actions of the children I dreamed of as I poured over baby books and decorated the nursery.
But with the challenges came kids who are incredibly funny, who aren’t satisfied with pat answers, who are determined to find their own unique path. They don’t take things at face value — a quality I’m watching them use to own their faith — instead of just adopt their parents.’
Nothing has shaped my character more than raising these awesome, challenging imperfect children. Without them, here’s a little taste of what I’d be like:
I’d be nauseatingly judgmental. If I had perfect kids, I’d believe that mothering was pretty easy. I certainly did before I was a parent. Sure, I thought it would be difficult at times, but I was a smart, capable woman. I could handle whatever they threw my way. If it turned out to be as easy as I thought, I’d no doubt look with pity and self-righteous judgment on those “weak-willed” moms who couldn’t handle their rebellious offspring. Ugh.
I’d never know how truly rotten I really am. I’m generally a pretty calm, reserved person. My kids have brought out wonderful qualities in me. However, mothering has also revealed an ugly side. I can be more frustrated, angry and impatient than I ever thought possible. I’ve said and done things that “Little Miss Perfect” would never dream of, pre-kids. I’ve learned how very human and flawed I am. And that has been a very good thing.
I’d miss out on a deeper walk with Jesus. Realizing how very flawed I am led me to rely more deeply on God than ever before. He is the only One who can truly help me be the mom I wanted to be. Time and time again, I’m confronted with my weaknesses and have to rely on the Holy Spirit’s power. My pride and self-sufficiency have been replaced by humility and dependence. It’s a sweet and freeing place to be.
Thank you, God, for giving me the kids I needed instead of the fictional Stepford kids I imagined in my head.
If You hadn’t, I shudder to think who I’d be.
Want to learn more about accepting your kids for who God made them? Read Jill Savage and Kathy Koch’s new book, No More Perfect Kids: Love Your Kids for Who They Are. You can purchase it here.
You can also gain wisdom and insights from both authors in these videos about ways to accept your beautiful, but imperfect, children — and how to encourage them to be who God created them to be.
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