Oh, today is full of SO many wonderful parenting moments that I don't even know where to begin. I was thinking of the title of my blog, "Parenting with grace". I wish I could say that every moment of every day is full of grace based parenting where I look at the wrongs that my children have done, put a sweet smile on my face, sigh and just praise the Lord for these wonderful blessings that He has given me called children, all the while showering them with hugs and kisses and gladly forgiving them for having wronged me in some way or another. If that is what you think of as "parenting with grace" then you are reading the wrong blog and I apologize. You may want to tune out right now.
Let's start with a little dose of reality....we are living in a foreign country, trying to homeschool our two oldest, while adapting to two new additions into our family...namely a 1 and a 3 year old. Let's just say it's been a while since we've been the parents of a toddler and a preschooler and we are re-learning as we go. We are both in the healthcare profession and we know all about growth and development, but reading books and having head knowledge never prepares you for the reality of living 24/7 with babies who crawl, put everything in their mouth, have potty training "accidents", have to touch EVERYTHING, and have no way of expressing themselves when they are upset other than to cry.
My morning started with a spunky 9 year old who decided to give me attitude over (I can't even remember what now). That led me to quickly realize that I needed a healthy dose of exercise! Thankfully, the management installed a new treadmill in the facility gym yesterday so I clipped on the iPod and had a healthy dose of 60 minutes of all consuming sweat accompanied by some head banging Christian Rock Music. That's always good for my soul.
Next, we got to experience the sheer panic of losing our second credit card in two days. The thought of being stranded in a foreign country with no access to our home based funds was cause for great stress. After a 30 minute man hunt (OK, credit card hunt) and tearing our two bedroom apartment apart we found credit card #1 stuffed in the cushion of one of the chairs. We also found some other very interesting items along with this search. It became apparent very quickly that we have a "hoarder" among our children. Hoarding is a very common phenomenon among institutionalized orphans. It is something that we have never had to deal with with our other 3 children, but we are now acutely aware that this is going to be an issue for one child in particular. About an hour later we found credit card #2 in the drawer where we keep our plastic bags. Oh boy! We need to watch this one like a hawk!
Not too long after the credit card hunt we had another child decide to "shoot" 4 hair elastics off the balcony to see if they would clear the pool. Needless to say, they DID NOT clear the pool. Guess who got to go swimming to retrieve said hair elastics? Normally, going swimming would be cause for joy for this child, but it seems that when you force someone to get in the pool against their will the "fun factor" of swimming loses its appeal.
This was all accompanied by a 10 year old who "forgot" that it was her chore to wash the lunch dishes for the 3rd time this week, a toddler who didn't get a nap yesterday and is still recovering, a husband who was gone all morning trying to deliver documents to the embassy, and trying to pack for a 4 night excursion that we are leaving on tomorrow.
I'm sure I'm leaving out many wonderful "events" in my day but these are definitely the highlights. And, when you put them all together along with all of the other stresses of life I have to admit that I didn't always handle myself with the most gracious spirit. But, isn't that what life is all about? Not being perfect, asking for forgiveness and learning from our mistakes. That is the grace that God our Father bestows upon us every second of every day. I am certainly undeserving of His grace but yet He continues to pour it down on me. And, what I can do in return is to turn around and try to give a little bit of that grace to those closest to me. I don't always do the best job at that, but I'm trying.
I'd like to think that this "parenting with grace" thing gets easier over time, but I think what I am finding is that the challenges don't go away...they just change over time. Thanks for walking with me on this journey.