There are many unpleasant side effects of parenting. Insomnia, dementia, anger, flu, snot, grief, guilt, flabbiness, and about a 11 point drop in I.Q., to name a few. But as we know, it’s not all bad. We love our little rug-rats. They are beautiful and wonderful and we would step in front of Lord Voldemort himself to protect them. And as my kids grow older, I’ve stumbled upon a positive side effect to parenting I never foresaw. That is, I am constantly challenged to remember important and practical spiritual truths, because I keep having to articulate them to my kids.
Take my daughter’s 10th birthday party. My Livi is a born leader and organizer and she had big plans for marshmallow fishing, friendship bead making, seat assignments for dinner, watching a movie at 9:00 sharp, etc. By 7:30 there were eight 4th grade girls running screaming through the house wired on lemonade and chocolate cake and ice cream, and things were not going according to plan. There were not enough large safety pins for everyone to have 3. People were sitting in the wrong seats. At one point some girls were still playing with Livi’s stuff in her bedroom instead of coming out for an activity, and Livi came to me under extreme duress.
Our conversation lasted maybe 60 seconds, but it included remembering other times when things had not gone according to plan. I reminded her how we’re not in control and how sometimes, that can make it more fun. A man makes a plan, but the Lord directs his steps… and stuff like that.
She grudgingly accepted my words and settled down and the party went great. They had blast and kept me up past 2am. And I got an unsolicited reminder of Who I know and who I am.
I love the gospel, but I constantly, daily, even hourly forget its implications for my life. And I’m telling you – having to explain to my kids how to live pint-sized lives of faith is helping me remember, even just a little more. It’s almost like I should thank them for allowing me into their struggles because it reminds me how to approach mine.