"God gives us kids so we'd know how He feels about us." - Bob Goff
Do you ever wonder if God looks down on us throwing our "tantrums" and disobeying Him, and instead of getting angry with us, He just thinks, "but she looks so sweet when she sleeps." And then He is merciful to us, and forgives us when we ask Him to. He shows us grace instead of the justice we deserve.
I don't always show grace and mercy to my kids. Sometimes consequences are necessary. They do receive their fair share of discipline and guidance, and I am quick to throw out the "no screens for a week!" card when the rules are intentionally broken or one kid is picking on another. But I yell too loudly, and too often. I lose my patience more quickly than I'd like to. Sometimes I forget to return a permission slip, or I have to break a promise. I don't always have it all together; in fact it's a rare day when I actually CAN say that I have it all together. I let them play electronics more than I probably should. I nag them about their chores and I expect far more help around the house than they ever want to give me. Sometimes we have to say, "sorry, no company today," or skip a class birthday party. (Speaking of which, I did not send in cupcakes for Parker's birthday last month and we didn't throw him a big party, and I did not feel guilty about either one.) I'm not always attentive, my iPhone is in my hand far too often, and I do not bathe them every single night. Poor Lila has been asking for gymnastics classes for over a year now, and I've yet to sign her up.
But. BUT. I open my arms to them when they creep into my bed in the middle of the night, scared from a bad dream or that monster under the bed. I hold her like a baby because she asks me to. I show him how to stick up for himself and how to be polite and how to respect women and teachers and grandparents and adults. I know each one of their unique love languages and use them to lavish affection upon them as often as I can. I pray with them and for them and in front of them. I read an extra chapter at bedtime just because. I love their Daddy absolutely to pieces and try to set an example for them for how a strong marriage should be. I teach them good manners 24/7 it seems (oh little boys, you are so gross). I tell them about God's love for them and about Jesus' sacrifice and about Heaven waiting for us someday. I encourage sharing and respectfulness and kindness and asking nicely and thinking of others and not spending your allowance all in one place. I am real with them and show them that I am human as well, and I try very hard to explain truths to them in ways they can best understand them. I chaperone field trips and help with homework and shuttle them to school and soccer practice and birthday parties. I pack Lila's gluten-free school lunch every single day and I bake gluten-free brownies and buy gluten-free cookbooks and make homemade granola bars because they love them and eat them all up within a day. I nurse fevers and administer Tylenol and hold cold washcloths on their foreheads and pour orange juice and hold their hands and say extra prayers. I change wet sheets and find missing blankies and dolls and I French-braid hair over and over until it looks like Elsa's. I "holdju" and help them clean up their messes, and I fix endless meals and snacks and cut off all the crusts. And I love them, fiercely. With all my heart and then some.
I'm not the perfect mama, because there is no such thing. Repeat after me, THERE IS NO SUCH THING.
But I'm the perfect mama for my children. And that is enough. Because He says it is.
I'm convinced that Bob Goff had it right when he stated the quote above, and I am trying daily to view my children the way God sees them. I want to parent them the way God parents us. He's not always gentle (after all, even natural consequences do sting), but He always cares for us and even His discipline comes from a place of love and protection and guidance.
Being a mama is a full-time, exhausting, rewarding job, no doubt. And if I do all of those things above and more, can you just imagine all the little things that God does for us, day in and day out? And even after we've been disobedient and rude and disrespectful, He still thinks we are worth saving. That we still look sweet when we're asleep.
Just like our babies.