Back when I was a perfect parent (before I had children), I had a long list of things I would never do. Sitting on my lofty perch of idealism, fueled by enough childcare experience to feel knowledgeable about the field of mothering, I was emphatic on several points to which I would not yield. I would never breastfeed (I nursed all four of mine), would never co-sleep (Somewhere in the middle of night 3 with our first, I caved on this one just for an extra 20 minutes of sleep. Our bed at night now resembles a snake den of wiggly arms, legs, and torsos. The “snow angel” is the toddler’s favorite sleeping position.), and would CERTAINLY NEVER HOMESCHOOL (We’re in our third year of educational dictatorship…I mean…of our sweet blessed educational journey.) I even now have a baby who refuses everything but organic formula (which I would have majorly rolled my eyes at years ago). Somehow, I became accidentally crunchy, except for peanut M&M’s and the necessity of the times that is frozen pizza. I was especially adamant that I would never put my child on a LEASH. I mean, who would do that to their kid? This girl. Our first was an early walker, quickly turned fearless runner, and with a baby sister 18 months younger, that sucker was a lifesaver. Literally. I encountered the meanest comments and looks, which just served as a humbling reminder of my own ugliness and pride a few short years before.
Another guilty pleasure turned humbling moment: the People of Walmart website. I used to peruse the archives, cackling and snorting with superior glee as I clicked through the wardrobe malfunctions, hair travesties, and social faux pas. Until one fateful day when I was making a quick run to Wally World myself, with my first child in tow. I was extremely pregnant with our second, and as I hoisted my son on my hip and hauled it through the parking lot, I became increasingly aware of how cold it was outside. I soldiered on until the looks and scoffs of those making the trek with me caused me to look down. Good people, my yoga pants were riding mid-derrière and my maternity t-shirt had hiked it up to my ribs, leaving my stretched, burgeoning belly out for public display. I have never returned to my former snickering at the People of Walmart in full confidence that I am now, most assuredly, on the website.
But besides these humorous humiliations and general eating of my words, there are many other things I never thought I was capable of. Ugly-yelling at my kids. Cold-shouldering my husband. Throwing things across the room in frustration. Dark thoughts and secret desires. The necessity of anti-depressants just to cope with life (thanks, post-partum depression.) What this has revealed is not just my naivety and pride, but a deep lack of understanding of just how sinful I am, and just how much I need Jesus. I hold a degree from Big-Girl-Panties University, but no amount of soldiering on and pushing forward can compensate for how much I need Grace. There is no Pinterest project or parenting philosophy that covers the fact that I need the momently guidance of the Spirit, the life-giving instruction of Scripture, the loving chastisement of the Father, and the all-encompassing Grace of Jesus. I could never live abundantly without them, and that’s a statement I feel confident I will never retract.