I wrote the following article last month for my local newspaper. +++
Love is a messy ordeal. The stomach bug is roaring through our house as I write this, and you all know how ugly that can be.
So here we are mopping up messes off the floor at five in the morning, and sometimes it’s easy to wonder what in the world we signed up for when we decided to become parents. Because cleaning floors is about the least of our worries.
I think anyone who wants to become a parent should be intimately involved in at least one potty training endeavor before making a final decision. I’m potty training my fourth, and holy moly it does not get any easier! Why, oh why, do they prefer sitting in their own you-know-what? On the other hand, my oldest came home crying after school yesterday, because girls can be just downright mean. And I knew nothing I said could fix her mess, so I just held her and marveled at how much she’s grown. We haven’t even made it to the teens or even pre-teens; but I’m already worried about my kids growing up to become a detriment to society, because...well...I don’t think I’m alone on that one even though I have no substantial reason for worrying about that. It can all feel so complicated and confusing.
Because parenting is wild and messy and crazy and heart-wrenching and mind-blowing and messy.
So we mess up. Sometimes we say things we regret moments later or make rash decisions rather than waiting until everyone has cooled off. Sometimes our love is about as appealing as that mess on the floor; because we’re all a bit broken, and broken people love brokenly. I’m sure we all wish our children could have unbroken parents and perfect love, but let’s just get it out there: that ain’t gonna happen.
Of course we need to work on our own garbage. Of course we need to apologize when we use that ugly tone of voice or say those ugly things or make those bad choices. Humility is required for healthy parenting. But perfection isn’t.
Love is messy, and parenting is crazy, because we are messy and we are crazy! Our weird kids are way more normal than we will ever be.
Are we all clear on that?
But also know that our kids see through our messiness, and they see our love. They know it’s fierce. They know that at times it even contributes to our craziness. And, God bless ‘em, they love us back.