This idea & phrase to help stay sane as a parent is a guest post from Kara Carrero.
Malcom X and Mother Teresa. That’s how I describe my two wonderfully vivacious daughters. They are both world changers. One is a spit-fire, while the other is a mellow, gentle soul. Neither do I know how to handle appropriately. The introvert in me needs my space and the “feeling” side of me absorbs too much of the emotion that happens throughout the day. Nevertheless, I have been entrusted with their souls. And their eternal selves are daily shaping and sanctifying and teaching me to stay sane as a parent because there’s a purpose to the madness.
Like an iron in fire, the daily struggles and the fight to not feel beaten down by the pressures of modern motherhood, parenting a budding generation, and trying to muster enough energy to get dinner on the table, my kids are molding me. They are shaping me for the day I meet Christ. I will stand before him with my heart and my life in my hands. I will recount the days I didn’t give up, the ones that were too much, and the moments I surrendered myself to Him in the mission he gave me to raise children. He entrusted me with life in its most precious form — children. And he didn’t call me to necessarily stay sane as a parent, rather he called me to be more like Christ. But he places these lives in my own life to help me accomplish just that.
As a child I remember my mom always saying that as parents we work to break the chains of the previous generation. That in raising our own children, we work to better the family, strive towards progress, and do better. Whatever the sticking points are (racism, intolerance, laziness, poverty, and addiction just to name a few), we work to correct them in the future generation. But it’s no easy task to raise a child, let alone be plagued with the notion we must break free from the vicious family cycles.
In fact, our children are this blank slate that we raise. As amazing as it is to be able to instill values in them, we unfortunately will also pass on traits we never intended. And then we start seeing and hearing it. Those moments when your child speaks words that could have come from your own mouth or when they start behaving like you. And they’re small things like a tone of voice, but they lead to big things like attitude.
Many days I feel like I could put a status out on social media that simply says “head meet desk”. And that’s my attitude about the day. I fall into this trap of thinking that I can’t do it or don’t want to do it and then I get this air of negativity that’s hard to shake. I grumble and complain and become a storm cloud instead of a bright and shiny star as a child of God. But it’s those hard days that I must not only fall back on God but embrace the child He gave me. Iron sharpens iron, so if I shy away from the struggles I face with my children, where is there room for God to sanctify both myself and my family?
And that’s just it. I always knew I wanted to be a mother, but in my fantasy land I dreamed up parenting boys, having it all figured out, and going on wild family adventures. Well, I have girls, I am figuring it out as I go even through frustration, and the biggest adventure I have had in 6 months is living in a hotel with 2 kids and a dog wondering if we would all survive. I shy away from the struggles of parenting so often because it’s not what I envisioned. But let me tell you, these girls I have been entrusted with build me up, they challenge me, and they are for my sanctification.
I struggle with empathy and compassion and can be pretentious. But as a parent I have been forced to empathize, be compassionate, and lay down my pride. My Malcom X tests my patience. We all know that praying for patience just brings you more opportunity to be patient. She’s it. She’s my test of patience in the form of a spirited, way too intelligent, vivacious, mad scientist-like toddler. My Mother Teresa flexes the muscle of gentleness and compassion. She is a soft soul that challenges me to be a listener, not a talker. And she has helped me learn to be a bit softer. All of these traits that God is instilling in me through my kids are ways I can help better his kingdom and be of service to my fellow man. So as I pray fervently to God asking how I can stay sane as a parent, He continually points back to my children as says “they are your sanctification, embrace them and find peace rather than mere sanity.”
I am not perfect. Far from it. Never have been and never will be in this lifetime. Even my parents always tell me that I was a difficult baby and a hard headed kid to raise. My mom made the joke as an infant that I had permanent PMS and as a married adult, I was always reminded with nudges that they hoped I had a kid just like me. While it created a black sheep syndrome in me that I struggle with even as an adult, it has given me the chance to see how I need to be shaped for the glory of Christ.
So the hard days where I want to make similar remarks about my children and how hard they are to please, how clingy they are, what annoying traits they have, or how I am struggling as a mother, I must remind myself one simple phrase… “for your sanctification”.
Hard days are for my sanctification.
Whining is for my sanctification.
Difficult parenting decisions are for my sanctification.
And as I pray for sanity and strive for righteousness, I see my children staring back at me.
These precious gifts of life and fruits of my womb… they’re for my sanctification. And what a blessing it is to not only raise them, but to have them shape my actions, my reactions, and my life.
Kara is a family lifestyle blogger at KaraCarrero.com living in Boston, MA. She is a firm believer in intentional parenting and raising strong, confident, and independent children of faith even in a seemingly faithless city.