April 9, 2018

Personality and Parenting

Parenting. A wide-open plain of questions, trial and error, guilt, confusion and prayer. To help bring comfort, I accepted an invitation to be part of a four-member MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) panel. At this event, young moms could ask questions relating to motherhood, marriage, etc. I was invited as the “experienced” mom since my four offspring survived childhood and were well into adulting. With experience comes wisdom, and with wisdom comes ease in sharing. At least it did for me on this particular day.

I looked at the young moms and was filled with compassion for their role of raising young children, feeling ill-equipped for the task, and surviving on limited energy and sleep. My compassion readied me for the task of being vulnerable, hoping to bring them a sense of peace, ease their worries, and give them permission to occasionally “mess it up”. The first question: “Will you share some of your less-than-amazing stories from parenting?”

The question was directed to the other three panel members before my turn to share. Being last gave me the advantage of churning my brain to remember some of the funnier episodes of parenting four children.

My Three Stories

Story one:

“When our daughters started school, they wanted to pack their lunch rather than eat what the school cafeteria offered. I gave the first and second grader a spoon and told them to make peanut butter and jelly sandwiches while I readied for the workday. When I returned to the kitchen, the bread was on the kitchen floor and they were busily making the sandwiches. I didn’t say a thing. I waited until they were done, put the dirty sandwiches in baggies, and packed them into the lunchbox. The next day, I encouraged them to put the bread on the table and stand in the kitchen chairs so they could reach.”

Story two:

“When our sons, ages 6 and 8, decided it was amusing to spit on one another as they ran through the house, I grabbed them by the back of their shirt, pulled them screaming to the back door, and escorted them into the backyard while giving these instructions: ‘Spit, spit, spit. Spit on each other, spit at the birds, spit on yourself. And don’t knock on the door until you’re out of spit and can’t talk because your mouth is so dry.’ I went back into the air-conditioned house and locked them in the Texas summer sun.” (They had enough spit for about two minutes.)

Story three:

“I have killed more “pets” than I can number. We had a guinea pig whose eye got infected; the vet wanted $400 to take out the eye. I didn’t have $400, so I took the pet to the park and set her free under a park bench. I told the children the pet died. To this day, when they say the name “Snowbell”, I cringe.

One of the children had goldfish and Beta fish they enjoyed. One morning the child would not get out of bed for school, so I took the bedroom door off the hinges and flushed all of the fish. When the child still didn’t budge from the bed, I took the (what looked to be) empty terrarium from the bedroom and deposited it into the trash as the city trash truck pulled up to empty the garbage. Turns out, the terrarium contained a “pet” spider. I am known as the pet-killer to one child in particular.

Never mind that our cat has been with us for nine years, and we had a golden retriever we loved for 14 years before we had to put him down. Of course, I was present when he died, so I get the blame for that one too. I’ll just say, I like pets that are real pets.”

Invitation for More:

As I comically shared the stories, I could see a release come into the faces of the young moms. I encouraged them, “My children were not psychologically damaged by my unique parenting. They did not grow up to hate me, nor do they make it a habit to eat dirty sandwiches. God gives us wisdom in parenting. He throws in a few unique parenting opportunities so we have something to laugh about when we are older.”

I was invited back the next year to encourage the women with a devotional entitled,  “Blessed is the Mom.” I’ll share that in my next post.

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Mary Ethel Eckard is an author, speaker and teacher called to encourage Christians in their faith journey. She is passionate about sharing Christ with all who will listen. Through her captivating testimony of relying on God's strength and guidance through the heights and depths of life, Mary helps others find freedom from the shame and pain of their past. Mary resides in Frisco, Texas and enjoys spending time with family and friends.

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