You may wonder why there was no Friday Fun Day post for last week. It's because our Friday started out on the fun-side and then slid slowly downhill into the decidedly un-fun category. We started the day at Monkey's Treehouse-a local indoor play place. The kids played while I worked on some miscellaneous items and tried to think about some more fun things we could do. And then it dawned on me that I desperately needed an oil change. On Saturday, while I had fun in an Assessments class (note the sarcasm), Big Dan was taking the kids to Knoxville for Weston's birthday party. Leading up to this trip, we have driven to Knoxville about 15 times while overdue for an oil change. I could hear my dad's voice in my head and knew we needed to just buckle down and get it done. I pulled up stakes right quick and headed to the dealership. (Yes, I know a Jiffy-Lube-esque type place is quicker, jiffy if you will, but I have also had bad luck with them forgetting to put all the pieces back together properly which results in a lake of oil on my garage floor.) Typically, when I take the kids along for something like this, I pack a bag full of activities and snacks and whathaveyou. But, with this being a spur of the moment adventure, I had none of that. I was scared, ya'll.
While it was not the most exciting two hours of any of our lives, we managed to get through it without the building coming down around us. Did I mention it was Emily's nap time?? In fact, one lady who was lucky enough to be sharing the waiting room with us complimented their behavior before she left. It was a proud moment. Because, honestly, there have not been many moments like that this summer. It has been a summer of my neck breaking out because my kids are acting insane in public places. Repeatedly.
Which brings me to the point of this post. I realize that was quite a lead up. As much as I have tried to make this summer about memories and fun, it has turned out to be more of a, um, training time for my children. What I'm trying to say, is that, well, it's been a hard run for the past two months. Most days I feel like all I've done all day is correct my kids. And by correct I mean put them in time out. Or in their rooms, or take away privileges. I have spent a lot of time feeling sad. I don't want what my kids remember about me to be my near constant frustration with them. I don't want them to grow up feeling like I am "mad" at them all the time. I want to have fun and relish the slower pace of summer.
The thing is, parenting isn't really about having fun. I know, that sounds so awful. But, in reality, parenting is about training my children. Pointing them to God, teaching them how to follow his ways, and therefore, our ways as we parent. We all enter this world with a bent to head in exactly the opposite direction. It takes some amount of pressure to help bend us around the other way. I'm definitely not saying all of my frustration is justified or excusable. Sometimes my frustration towards my kids comes from my own bent toward the wrong direction. When I realize this, I try my best to apologize to my kids. But, I won't apologize for asking them to try their best to follow the standards we have in our family.
I have reflected a lot about how these years of having very young children IS about bringing them up. It is not a job for the faint hearted. Or the lazy. Ahem. I've spent the last few days trying to explain to my kids (Drew, mainly. Emily is a tad outside the "reason with" category just now...) that when I expend all of my energy correcting and disciplining, I don't have energy left for hanging out and having fun. I think that information is difficult to remember in the heat of the moment.
I do feel like we are turning a corner. With Em especially. Both of my kids respond well to tight boundaries when they are in a season like this. And it is work. Hard work. To be proactive and consistent, firm but merciful, takes more than what I have. Which is why I'm trying to be thankful for this patch. When I am at the end of what I can do, I must depend on God. I know. I should do this first, not when I'm all out of gas. But, sometimes I don't, and it takes reminding. I feel like I don't have enough to give, because I don't. I'm not meant to. In my shortcoming, HE is there to meet me. HE is on this parenting journey with me. I can't do it without HIM. I shouldn't do it without HIM. I'm not meant to.