Bloopers, Blunders, and Practical Parenting
By Rhonda Rhea
GO AHEAD. PICK. WRONG! If you’re making a parent choice and you have two options, there’s something you should know: both are wrong. In the end, whichever you choose, you should’ve chosen the other. And whatever you’ve chosen, go ahead and resign yourself to the fact that it’s going to mar your child for life.
Feels that way sometimes, doesn’t it? Oh, the pressure never to err as a parent.
I knew how to parent perfectly. I did. I had all the answers. Then I had the kids.
I had all five of my kids in seven years, so I had to train them to sit in “big church” in a sort of platoon. That means I got to err at least weekly — and very publicly. Still, I could bark orders without making any sounds. Pretty impressive!
I don’t know why it is that the pastor is hardly more than three minutes into the sermon when somebody has to go potty, but I remember letting one of them go while I corralled two more in the pew. I’m sure my son thought Sergeant Mom would appreciate his stealth. But that drop, tuck, and roll from the pew wasn’t nearly as discreet as one would hope. I blamed it on A-Team reruns.
He was AWOL too long, so I gathered the troops and took off to find him. It was like maneuvers. After I tracked him down and made a small scene in the hall (about as inspirational as it sounds), I went back to check on the 3-year-old who’d had a crying spell back in the preschool area. The teacher came to that half-door with an awkward, worried smile. That’s never a good sign. “Mrs. Rhea? Um … yeah, did you know she’s … not wearing panties today?”
Ah, no. No, I did not.
Mother of the Year? I probably don’t need to tell you I didn’t win it that year. Or any other year. What that Sunday School teacher didn’t know was that I was actually just happy I remembered mine. She didn’t know half the mistakes I made. I once spilled an entire soft drink on top of my newborn’s head. I trimmed another baby’s fingernails too short, crabbed at a toddler when I should’ve comforted him, and got angry too many times when I could’ve laughed. There were times I fed the wrong thing and times I said the wrong thing. I was way too this and I was not enough that.
I didn’t do enough to help with that science project. I did too much to help with that science project. I did that science project.
I’m convinced sometimes parents simply need to hear that we all make mistakes. And that God’s grace is big. As we humbly rest in God’s love for us and for our children, we can experience His grace in the most beautiful ways, without getting quite so anxious about being perfect. “Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, so that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, because He cares about you” (1 Peter 5:6-7).
It’s not really true that every choice you make is wrong. If we stay in God’s Word, stay fervent in prayer, stay humble before our children and humbly surrendered to our Lord, we can make wiser choices. We’ll have some good days and some not-sogood ones. God has grace for both.
I hope it will comfort you to know that my kids are in their 20s — and they still like me. God’s grace has been huge. I know there are no guarantees — each will make his or her own choices — but as of this minute, they’re all passionately serving the Lord. All five. Four serving on church staffs. Two doing a Christian TV show with me. One is doing both. And guess what? That’s the one I accidentally sent to Sunday School commando. It’s His grace!
Rhonda Rhea lives with her pastor/husband in the St. Louis area and is the author of 12 books, including Espresso Your Faith, and a new book for pastors’ wives, Join the Insanity. She speaks at conferences and events all over the country and, along with her daughters, co-hosts the weekly TV show, “That’s My Mom.” All five kids live near them and Rhonda says they’re still speaking to her — even though they didn’t always get A’s on their science projects.
This article originally appeared in ParentLife Magazine (November 2014) For more articles like this, subscribe to ParentLife.