I used to feel guilty after having a string of days when everyone was sick, everything broke down and everyone wanted my help with something. It seemed like everything was sliding – housework, nutrition and let’s not even talk about manners, rules and teaching about God.
Over the years, I have gradually learned to cut myself a little slack. Parenting is a marathon and not a sprint. I don’t know about you, but if I had to run a real marathon there would be quite a few places I would have to stop and walk or rest. I could finish it, but it wouldn’t be a record time. I am such a poor runner, I would be thrilled at the finish and wouldn’t beat myself up about any rest stops along the way.
I have learned that occasionally serving apple pie for breakfast does not mean your child will pursue a life of crime. A day when you can’t cook and your child has chicken McNuggets two meals in a row does not mean she will be the next contestant on the Biggest Loser. Forgetting to even mention God for three days in a row does not mean your child will become an atheist.
The hard part is remembering to hit the race route again after those rest breaks. I have learned that after a tough patch, I personally need to take a day or two to re-group. For me, that means not trying to accomplish anything more than the bare minimum necessary (like meals) for a day. I think Jesus gives plenty of examples in His own life where he took breaks and got away from the crowds and the demands on His time. I wish I could say I always spend my down time in prayer, but sometimes I am too worn out for anything more than a simple prayer. I think that is the beauty of Jesus living on earth. He knows the demands and the exhaustion they can bring. We have someone who we can tell our frustrations and He will understand.
Sometimes the rough patch was long enough that I have to remind myself to get back up and start parenting actively again. I try to remind myself the story of David and Goliath. David had to pick up that first little stone. If he had focused on how big Goliath was or how overwhelming the task, he could have stood by that creek bed for a very long time. I like to think that instead, he put his faith in God and just focused on picking up that first stone. Once David was able to that, everything else began to fall into place.
The next time you know it is time to take back the “reins” in your house, try to just focus on picking up that first stone. Find one little thing you can do and do it. I think you will find that soon everything begins to fall back into place. Hang in there and remember the goal is to finish the race not break the world record!