The perfect parent: Is this really my job?

Written by Christine Davage
Tuesday, 09 September 2014

The challenge

Nothing has challenged me like becoming a parent. I have never been so daunted by a task, nor so enthusiastic about an opportunity as the day I discovered that I was pregnant with my eldest daughter. I was terrified. In fact, beyond that. I cried through my baby shower (sorry, my lovely friends) because I felt so inadequate to the task ahead of me. The whole life I would be responsible for.

I knew deep down that I was not going to be able to do this perfectly. That I didn’t have the power or the skills. And I knew that it was going to take a lot more than luck.

Even so, I thought it was entirely my job to mould a blank canvas into a person wholly perfect.

The struggle

As the years went on, I really tried to be the perfect mother and believe me – I didn’t come anywhere close. But every night, I would convince myself that if I just tried harder tomorrow, I’d nail it. I had to. What choice did I have? God wouldn’t want my daughters to be damaged by an impatient, immature, selfish mum, I told myself, so it must be His will that I act perfect around them.

I was self-aware enough by this stage to know that I would never be perfect, but my authenticity didn’t really stretch as far as letting them see that. I would confess to my friends and family that I had made mistakes, but the kids mustn’t know.

The problem with that is, little pitchers have big ears. And big mouths. When I heard my own harsh words come from their little faces, I realised that this was a battle I had already lost. Each of my girls certainly had a voice and knew how to use it, but all I could see was that I’d given them mine, and I cringed at every imperfection.

The crisis

Almost five years later our family had just grown to five. When my son was just 12 weeks old, his heart stopped and he was resuscitated by a soldier in a field in the middle of Norfolk. His heart stopping was the worst thing I have ever witnessed, but my Father used that moment to heal me. He whispered into the chaos, gently challenging me with a simple question: “Who by worrying can add one day to his life?[1]”

As I wrestled with Him in the hospital that night next to my little boy, I was struck with how utterly powerless I was. I realised that I do not keep my children alive by the force of my will.  Every breath they breathe has been ordained by One who loves them even more than I do. Their “days are written in His book”[2]. And my job never was to work with a blank canvas. God had already designed them. I didn’t have to fake perfection for them to follow; I was their mum so that I could help them find the voice of their Father and follow in His perfect footsteps.

The release

The relief I experienced that night in a roasting hot room on the paediatric ward has never left me. Of course I will never stop thanking God for returning my son to me, but the realisation that his very existence was not up to me at all was such a sweet release of a burden I didn’t know I carried.

I have never been able to look at my kids the same way since. The life they have been given simply does not belong to me.

Discipling my children is a huge responsibility – and one I take seriously – but the buck doesn’t stop with me. I am training representatives of the Almighty, not of myself. He empowers me to look to Him, to direct them to Him, to apologise when I get it wrong (a lot!) and to encourage them to go directly to Him.

Their relationships with Him are as unique as mine is. Most amazingly, the people that they will become (and already are) have been designed specifically by Him – and He is even more interested in them than I am!

God is interested in family – my family. It’s His joy. And for me, it’s a relief.

[1] Matthew 6:27

[2] Psalm 139:16

 

 

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