Someone once gave me a tea towel as a gift that read “Motherhood is like being pecked to death by chickens.” I will admit at the time I didn’t think it was very funny or very true. I stuck it away in a kitchen drawer and have not thought much of it….until now! Now I am raising two teenagers and a pre-teen and lately I have been reminded of that odd gift from so long ago.
I will admit that I always said teenagers wouldn’t be very challenging after spending 15 years in youth ministry. Well I have now eaten those words and poured myself a nice glass of wine to go with them…..because let’s be honest, somehow that glass of wine makes the random music, strange hair styles, gross smells and frequent weird opinions easier to take in!
I find that raising kids is a little bit like riding a roller coaster. Sometimes you are just standing in line with anticipation, then as you settle in you slowly climb that first hill with excitement for what’s to come (but still in complete control). And then it happens, you hit the top and with no warning you are free falling over the edge with your hands in the air screaming. And then without much time to recover the cycle repeats itself. Lately I have found myself just over the top of that crest with my hands in the air…screaming…”You did what?”
I have always loved motherhood, but raising teenagers in today’s world leaves me feeling like I am daily “being pecked to death by chickens.” I have three great kids and I still feel like I am living at an amusement park. I find myself in the constant struggle of raising smart, kind, healthy kids who love God and like who they are. I know I am not alone in this. And as I get caught up in making sure they graduate high school, have enough extra curricular activities and free time while learning how to be responsible, I am reminded that the most important thing is teaching them how to love God! This is often a job even Christian parents dole out to Sunday school teachers and youth pastors. BECAUSE IT IS HARD!! My children live in a home with two parents who graduated from Seminary and we still fail daily to disciple our kids the way God wants us to.
We have dinner around a table together EVERY night just like the experts say and I am often alone with them, and yet I have learned that it is when I make the effort to sit with them, open the Bible, and read scripture or teach them to actively serve our community… that this is when they really talk. This is when I find out the undeniable struggles and temptations that they face and the choices they make while out with friends or even at youth group. But it’s also when I see them help each other make sense of these difficult things and ask me questions of Biblical proportions.
As my husband and I build a local ministry together we don’t always have access to Sunday school teachers and youth pastors. We have families involved in our ministry who are probably missing this aspect of “church” as well. But the more I reflect on this topic I am reminded that discipling and teaching my teens who God is, how to call upon His name, and live in relationship with Him is my job. It is my job to ask God each day to give me the tools to be the best parent I can to the kids He handed to me so long ago.
When I do this I find God gives me glimpses of progress as I watch my 13 year old invite a friend to church or listen to my 16 year old offer to pray for his girlfriend as she deals with something difficult. If I take on this job without fear and frustration I can pour myself that glass of wine at the end of the day, take a deep breath, and embrace the bruises left by the pecking teens with a sense of peace that those bruises will all be worth it!