In an instant, I was furious.
I’d gone into my teenager’s room to look for something and I couldn’t believe the mess. She told me she had “cleaned” her room all weekend and yet it resembled the aftermath of a tornado on a Monday morning.
I fumed all day.
She got in the car after school and I could tell by the look on her face it had been a hard day in junior high.
“You okay?” I asked tentatively, the way a mother has learned.
She took a deep breath, “I saw something happen today that was wrong. I told my teachers. I had to do the right thing,” her voice, wobbly. The story unraveled, the infraction and the injustice.
My anger fizzled as I forgot about her room and pondered heavier things.
The next day she brought home straight A’s on her report card. For the eighth year in a row.
The following, a Star Student Award for Caring for Others.
And on Friday when I picked her up, she wore a medal around her neck from her basketball coach for showing leadership and being the athlete with the most heart.
Her room was still a disaster. But it didn’t seem to matter quite as much.
She’s just 13. And I’m ashamed I had to be reminded all week by others what life is really about. Each day I saw my amazing daughter thru the eyes of her teachers and friends and it showed me how ridiculous our constant, often heated battles over her messy room and laundry piles really are.
Parenting is hard, no doubt. But I’ve found that I often make the whole thing a lot harder. After all, my children are children. I’m the adult in this relationship and with that authority comes maturity and wisdom.
The hardest part of parenting is me. And in the thick of it, I see that I’m the one being parented by God.
I look deeper–past the dirty room and scattered laundry and I see it there; it wears a different face, but under the layers of order, I see my nasty desire for control. Because really? The battles aren’t about a clean room or tidy drawers, folded laundry or emptied trash. It’s about my unhealthy desire to be in control of things that don’t really matter because I’m not in control of things that really do.
I’ve been a mom for more than a dozen years now and I’m still learning and taking my discipline as it comes. I’m still learning to choose my battles and let go of the trivial.
My goal as a mother is to raise children who love God and love others. I still long for organized rooms, tidy toys and clean laundry, but I’m trying hard to keep the little stuff little.
I’m raising incredible kids. And if I step back and out of the way, I’m able to see it with my own eyes.
And close them (and her bedroom door- ha!) to unimportant things.