Saturday, February 6, 2010

Superpowers and parenting...

are myths plus substance. Superpowers are the myths of bulletproof capes, indestructible tights and always knowing who the bad guy is. Parenting is the substance of telling them to clean up their capes, not to destroy anything and trying to figure out who that bad guy "Not Me" really is.

I do not think of my parenting as a superpower. It is plain hard work wrought with failures and mistakes but covered by God's grace. I started as early as I knew to start, and since then have stumbled, stuttered and started over each time it was necessary. The outcomes some days are dismal and other days there is enough glimmer of hope to keep me going for the next day.

As soon as I figure out one stage of parenting, they stop teething and start trying my patience with weird noises. They stop forgetting to flush but start leaving all the lights on. They stop complaining about eating asparagus and start complaining about writing essays. While on a visit to Colorado years ago, we were told that if we didn't like the weather to give it a day and it would change. I think that's an adage for parenting.

So when, like today, I meet someone who is astonished at my parenting, I am astonished. My parenting is a work in progress. With problems that require daily humility and wisdom. Parenting is not my superpower. It is a life's substance of work.

In this sweet mom's life, she has children that she says do not listen to her. I do not know her children, and I barely know her. I do know she is an accomplished professional with more degrees than me, loves her children and is stymied at why they do not listen to her instructions. She asked me how I get my children to listen to me.

I told her that I have always required them to listen to me, insisting on their training from earliest days. I told her it was hard work but worth the effort. And there are certainly days where I do not consider myself "heard" either.

She said it must just be a very special talent that some people have.

Perfect pitched voice--a talent. Gymnastic ability--a talent. Artistic accuracy--a talent. Parenting is not a talent.

That is what I wanted to tell her. I wanted to tell her that it is not too late for her to train her children, that it is not too late to put in the work of requiring them to listen. That it is not too late to submit to God the Father, perfect Parent to imperfect children, for His help and guidance.

But I missed it. The gathering was purely social. The conversation flitted around, and I did not fully take the opportunity that was given to me. We parted ways thinking very differently about the substance of parenting.

Parenting is not a superpower. Maybe I should ask for my superpower to be that I would never miss the opportunities. That would be worth having.

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