How do we measure what a successful parent looks like?
Today is not a day of particularly great parenting success for me. In fact I think I have failed. Yet again! I dropped my Kindy child at school and as I drove off I saw the other Kindy kids in dress-ups. Oh no! It was dress up as a nursery rhyme character day. But I didn't have time to do anything about it because the oldest child was due at a doctor's appointment.
Yesterday I failed when I yelled at my oldest child for not being ready to go to school early. He couldn't find his hat and this was my fault (apparently). And I got really frustrated with him.
Sometimes I feel like parenting is a very long exam. And it is an exam that many times it looks like I will fail.
However, I do have those days when I think I might scrape through. My kids getting awards at Speech Day ("congratulations Jenny - your kids did so well"), or a good piano performance ("wow - your kids are so talented Jenny") or an intelligent answer to a question at church ("Good on you, you've taught them so well Jenny"). When life is full of compliments like these, I think, "it's OK ... I'm passing ... phew" (which is a bit silly anyway, because these are my kid's achievements - not mine).
But what about the rest of the time? The less public stuff. The siblings who fight? The toddler who refuses to eat anything healthy without a long battle? The child procrastinates about homework until the 11th hour? The sister who yells that she hates her family - loudly and often? The nights when they finally go to bed and you just feel sheer relief? Where's the successful parenting in all that mess?
Surely parenting shouldn't be an exam. An exam where we feel like we're either passing or failing. Where I'm either feeling like a 'good' mother or a 'hopeless' mother. And how do you measure that anyway?
Ultimately, parenting can't just be about ME. It is not about whether or not I get congratulated. It is not about whether or not I get critcised for disruptive kids. It is about my KIDS. It is about them growing up to be their own person. It is about me being faithful and caring for them with consistency and love. And that may not necessarily bring great glory to me. In fact, it might give great shame to me. Especially as they grow older and make decisions I might not like that much.
Parenting is such a long and complex process. Why do I measure the outcomes of such a complicated business by a few good or bad days?