faith, family, life, marriage

Parenting Stretches Us

Parenting always pushes me out of my comfort zone and really forces me to examine my thoughts, motives, actions. I have to really analyze my feelings, determine justified and unjustified emotions, and move forward with the day to day, no matter how happy or hurt I am.

My sweet son was talking to his dad on the phone as we drove home. I listened to half the conversation and could tell his dad was going to a movie, and he wanted to go.

“But not in 3D!!” My son exclaimed.

Hmm, I scratched my head.

“But I had to sit on the front row… Dad, I hate the front row,” he lamented.

Into the darkness of night, I fixed my gaze, as my feelings stung a bit. See, I worked extra hard to put together a movie day with just the big 2 and my husband and I. (Which never happens, for the record.) I’m not “in the know” enough to know that I should buy Marvel movie tickets 2 months ahead of time, or wait a couple weeks to try to see it. So we got stuck with front row seats.

3D gives me a major headache so we opted for a regular showing. But I was just certain that movies, popcorn, soda, and no little kids to hang out with would be a total win. But at this moment, all I heard were complaints.

My knee-jerk reaction/thought was, “I’ll never take you to another movie.”

I wish I could pluck thoughts out of my head and cast them in the trash, forgotten. But that’s not the case. I have to challenge the thought, the feelings, and find what makes the most sense. I have to ask Jesus to help me sort it out.

(Yes, I think kids need to be taught gratitude, but I don’t think this was entirely a gratitude issue. And even if it was on his part, I still have my part to sort out.)

See, parenting gives us these moments and lots of them. Moments where we can cry, stomp, and even lash out. Or moments where we can analyze our thoughts, our hearts, and choose our responses carefully.

In this case, I was merely eavesdropping, so adding my thoughts to his conversation would have been rude. I realized the effort I put into making the movie a special treat for the boys was my energy and effort spent, and being a words of affirmation girl made it hard to hear the opposite. His complaints weren’t far from my own – I thought the front row sucked, but it was better than not going at all.

And I’ve never known a kid that didn’t love a 3D movie.

And I think it’s normal for a kid to say what he/she thinks it will take to get what they want. He wanted to go to the movie with his dad and stepmom and siblings. Regardless of whether I made it a special afternoon, or we had a blast. He still wanted the experience of going with them.

That’s reasonable. I don’t mind experiencing the same thing multiple times if I get to experience it with different people that are important to me.

Okay, we’ll go to another movie at some point.

Sure, I’d love rave reviews about how perfect the afternoon was and how much they noticed that we went out of our way to make it fun for them. But then I have to remember that the absence of that, while felt sharply by myself as a words person, isn’t actually an insult.

I’m thankful that parenting teaches me so many lessons. I’m glad that parenting is part of how God is making me my best self. I’m thankful I get to walk through these things and that I get to learn to love expressively and fiercely. I am better for these moments that are a little painful.

Until next time,

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