Joy? Peace? Hope?

John 1:29″ The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!”

Parenting at every stage presents its own highs and lows. Yay! Little Prince is walking…Yikes! We need to baby proof everything. I have always appreciated each stage and embraced that I will have successes and failures in each of those stages….until now. My boys are 15, 16 and a week shy of 19. They are on a hybrid schedule for school (my oldest is home from college until January) and these kids can suck my life force like nothing I have ever experienced in my life.

Last night, I prepared a family dinner and you would have thought I was asking they to lay down in the street so I could run them over with my car. My attempt at a lovely meal around our table so beautifully decorated for Christmas…hopeful that we could talk about our highs and lows of the day, the Advent season, smiling at each other lovingly was an epic failure. They complained, they fought, they were jerks. My joy at having the family around the table together slowly began to seep out of my body. As I looked around at each of these people that I GAVE BIRTH TO and then stared helplessly at my husband, I had this deep sadness. Who are these people? Where did they come from and what are they doing in my house? It’s ADVENT and we will be HAPPY!

As I prayed about this last night and again this morning (and in full disclosure there were tears) I realized that my joy in the coming of our Savior this season can happen simultaneously with the struggles of parenthood. It doesn’t diminish the Christmas story. This week we light the candle of peace for week 2 of Advent and my prayer is that even in the midst of total chaos, I remember that Jesus will still be returning in the form of a baby…God’s son. Shaping my thoughts in this way does help me cope with the less glamorous parts of parenting of which there seem to be many during the teenage years. With all the change and uncertainty 2020 has brought (fear, isolation, and struggle for so many) this doesn’t change fact. The fact is that God sent his son to live among up. A savior for all the world to see and acknowledge. There is joy and peace and hope in all of this.

I may need a break from family dinner for a hot minute. Kids will still be jerks sometimes, that’s life. Dealing with this is much easier knowing that Christmas is coming, Jesus is coming, our hope… Emmanuel.

The Grub Master

“If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.” James 1:5

Dear Reader, I’m suffering from the dreaded mom-guilt. This is a common symptom is my parenting repertoire. Maybe it’s because I’m trying to make up for us living in a world with a giant “D” for Divorce on our chests. Maybe it’s because I had everything growing up and more and I want that for my children. Maybe this is just my own affliction to overcome. Here’s what my current case is…

My middle son, Carter, is going on a camp out this weekend with the Boy Scouts. I love that he’s a Boy Scout! I have mad respect for the scouts and can’t wait for the day when I can get a license plate that says I’m the proud mom of an Eagle Scout. I’m completely on board with their mission, high ideals and have made many Pine Wood Derby cars in my life. I’ve been the Den mom and put my time in but as the boys have gotten older, I’ve stepped aside and been grateful for the men that have come alongside our troop to help these boys learn and honor the motto “be prepared.”

The campout begins tonight. Carter was assigned the task of Grub Master. This is the scout that plans the meals for the weekend, sends his mom to the grocery store to get the items and packs said items. Then the task of cooking and cleaning is distributed among the boys for the weekend so they can work together and take turns doing the different jobs. Carter needs to do this for his Eagle requirement so as much as I hate when he is Grub Master (because it’s a pain for me) I do understand the necessity. Well…other plans have come up. Carter would like to attend a concert at the high school tonight and have me drive him up to Lafayette tomorrow morning at the crack of dawn (more than an hour from our home). This would entail packing up all the food, bringing it to the troop to load and unload tonight (now making it a responsibility for someone else) and a two-hour car trip for me tomorrow morning at 0 dark hundred hours. I had been stewing about this for days when two separate friends told me today, that I can say “no.” Carter committed to the campout. Carter committed to being Grub Master and I don’t have to give up my Saturday morning (I have a bible study on Saturday mornings that I love).

I’m not sure why saying “no” seemed like such a novel idea. Then it hit me…mom guilt. I want to bend over backward making life easy on my kids. AND guess what? Life isn’t easy. I have another friend that says “fare is what you pay to ride the bus” (I’ve got some really smart friends). So, I’m going to work through my mom guilt that my sweet little boy is going to miss an activity tonight to honor the activity that he has already committed too. I am also going to recognize that I am human and can’t do it all and don’t want to do it all.  I will encourage him to pack up all the food the Grub Master is responsible for and help Carter honor his commitment. I can’t have him part of an organization whose motto is “be prepared” and then get in his way when he needs to develop the skills to do just that. I’m sure he will be less than happy with me when he comes home from school and learns that he needs to be “Johnny on the spot” and get ready to go tonight but I feel that this is the best thing for him. Thinking about the long game of parenting can be a true challenge…brutal at times. But I’m raising someone’s future husband and father and that person needs to be someone who honor’s their commitment and knows how to see things through.

Be prepared…for life.