I met a mom recently at a convention I was speaking at who asked me a parenting question. She was a young mother of 3 boys who were all under the age of 9 and she had many miles to go. It was our first time meeting in person however, she has been following our adventures here at the Giles Frontier for a while. She asked, “How do you deal with your home and the energy and mess boys bring? I can’t seem to get a handle on it, and it is very frustrating and stressful for me.”
What a GREAT question. My answer was that during “this season,” I had to let go of my ideal home and find a way to love what it looked like in real life.
I had spent a lot of time in years past being annoyed, angry, and wishing for something different when my boys were younger. Rocks, lures, and wrappers in the dryer, fishing line tangled in the vacuum cleaner, trails of dirt and whatever they brought with them from the outdoors onto the living room rug was more than I could handle some days. Laundry, dishes, and broken heirlooms from my grandmother have brought me to tears on occasion. Why can’t they just be neat, clean and orderly?
At some point, I realized that God did not give me neat and orderly. He gave me messy, curious, and wonderful boys who have taught me more about life than doing dishes and folding laundry could ever do. Then I saw how fast those little boys were becoming men and that my many miles to go with them in parenting was short.
Did I want them to have memories of the mother who was always shaking her head and asking why? Or getting upset with them for every little thing? Or did I want them to remember that I always kept fishing poles and a chair in my trunk to sit in while they fished “juicy” looking ponds we happen to see out on errands?
Parenting is full of choices and decisions that guide our behavior toward our children. Discovering that sometimes stretching ourselves and bending to foster a life of curiosity bodes well for everyone’s future.
I don’t live in a farmhouse fixer-upper. Our home is lived-in for daily life, and it took me many years to realize that the people who come here completely overlook the worn furniture, mismatched pieces, and feel the heart of the home we have created.
Today I came home from the grocery store to restock the empty shelves my teenagers polished off. When I got back, Grant was cleaning a fish he had just caught from the backyard in my kitchen sink. He stated he would be cooking it for dinner on his alcohol stove on the porch ( the stove that caught his hair on fire a few months ago). Grant began gathering oil, a pan, seasoning, and crackers to make a crust and headed outside. He left a trail of the stuff he left behind of course.
Just as I recovered from the fish in my sink, Grayson comes in the kitchen. “Mama, can you look inside my ear? I think there is a tick in it?” Of course, I had to ask why he thought there was a tick in it. “Well, Ethan and I were scouting for deer out at Tiger Bay earlier today, and I accidentally stuck my head in a rotten log.”
At this point in parenting these boys, there comes a point when you don’t ask any more questions and roll with it. Although entertaining, I knew the story of how he accidentally stuck his head in a rotten log would take about twenty minutes and make me question my parenting skills of allowing him to scout in the woods. So, I grabbed a flashlight, put on my glasses, and looked around in his ear. After consulting with my nurse sister-in-law and cleaning out his ear, I declared it to be tick free.
Yes, we still have a long road ahead of us mamas. But if you toss a folding chair in your trunk, you will be able to rest along the way.
I do keep a folding chair, folding fishing rod, bug spray, and a towel, among other things in my trunk. You never know when you’ll pass a u-pick strawberry farm or a beautiful pond right next to the art museum you visit.
Most of the time, we never miss an opportunity to pull off the road and fish. I sit back in the chair and watch. I am soaking up these days. How about you?
No matter the season you may be in parenting your children, there is always room for margin your days, or a fresh-picked berry with your boy.
If you enjoyed this story, you might enjoy my book, Hanging Motherhood On the Clothesline.