It has been a tough week in the Teague house. Last night, Joe and I found ourselves on our knees at the foot of the bed asking for God‘s divine intervention and wisdom over our children. Joe did most of the praying because I was so broken. I just sat there and cried and allowed the Holy Sprit to intercede on my behalf. Currently, I feel pretty bruised and broken.
Sometimes, with parenting, you just need to laugh. At other times, you just need to cry. This week, I've done both.
On Tuesday, my firstborn daughter turned 15. As soon as school was out, she and her dad went to get her driving permit. (That she is that old is shocking! When did my baby grow up???) It was a day of joy and celebration of a milestone. Over these last four days of riding in the car with her, however, the celebration has turned to humility. I have learned that I am the "worst driver ever." When you provide any constructive criticism to a 15-year-old driver, she reminds you that you "never stop at a stop sign," that you "cut corners too close", and that you "brake too aggressively." It's not particularly helpful when your husband chimes in and confirms that we have to change the tires and the brakes on my car every 20,000 miles instead of every 30,000 miles on his truck. (Newsflash... my car is significantly abused by carpool chaos--not so with Joe's truck.) It’s amazing to me that I’ve made it to 48-years-old without the first speeding ticket, moving violation or car accident. Yet, if you ask my 15-year-old, I’m not qualified to teach her to drive. Four days into the permit, I have been told she would much prefer to drive with her father than me. It’s going to be a long year until 16.
The day after she got her permit, I was still reeling and questioning how I got so old. My daydreaming was rudely interrupted by a picture and a string of texts from my son's teacher. "FYI. This is a picture of your son walking laps at recess because he threw food in the cafeteria." OMG. Through a series of texts back-and-forth, I learned that my son had made poor choices with his friends at the lunch table. Apparently there was a corn flicking contest, and he couldn’t help himself but participate. When I called to share this news with Joe, he laughed. He reminded me this would probably not be the first time we received such a text from the school. I suggested that the punishment make it the last. The next day, we dropped him at school early with handwritten notes that he had to deliver to the lunchroom monitor and the janitor. Let’s just say his head was hung low. He spent a few days mad at me and sulking. Eventually, started to warm back up. I was trying to "build the bridge back" and went upstairs to help him clean his room (it was so bad you could not see his floor). At some point, I did get quite frustrated with the "junk" scattered over his room, and started to fill a garbage bag with trash. That "trash" included a plastic Groot cup that we got at the movies the weekend Guardians of the Galaxy 2 opened. (That was April 10, 2017!) Yes, the dirty cup was still in his room! I thoughtlessly tossed it in the trash. Immediately, tears welled up in his eyes. He looked at me incredulously and exclaimed: "Mom, that was a memory... you don't care about my memories!" Dagger to my soul.
A day later, I was asking my other teenage girl about a meeting she'd had her youth counselor. I rarely ask questions about their time together, but I was trying to be genuinely supportive. She told me she learned something about herself that she didn’t really like. When I tried to clarify what she meant, she said she had realized she was more like me than she wanted to be. I held my Botox Brow and agreed that she was probably right. A few hours later, she was telling me about her new lessons in science on genetics, on chromosomes, on Punnett squares, and on her classroom assignment to create her own animal. (She cross bred a white tiger and a snow owl.) In the midst of her animated story, she paused and looked at me with a moment of revelation. She said: "I just realized that I got all of your bad genes and all of Dad‘s good ones." I just smiled and said that she was probably right. Glad I provided the shallow end of the gene pool!
Two days later, one remaining child confirmed to me that I am failing miserably as a mother. This child has been struggling at school since the beginning of this year. At age 3, he did not speak. We recognized his struggle and immediately responded with getting him speech therapy. In fact, he spent a year at The Speech Garden Institute, an amazing school here in Charlotte that provides 6 hours a day of speech and occupational therapy. We jokingly say they overdid it. Since the end of that year, he has not shut up! He sailed through TK, K, 1st and 2nd grades with flying colors. This year, however, we have hit a wall. And, ironically, I remember the speech therapists telling us that if he was going to have a recurrence of speech issues, they would resurface in the 3rd grade. This is the year that even math becomes language based (welcome to word problems)! We are here! Therefore, we started Thursday morning at the school meeting with a teacher, an educational specialist and the principal, creating an IEP (Individual Education Plan) for this son. I am totally out of my confort zone. After having two daugthers who were academically gifted, I am clueless. I am hopeful and excited that the interventions will improve his academic performance. However, I am still dealing with the "frustration" that this son is feeling at home after holding it together at school. Saturday, he exploded over his inability to find his basketball jersey. It was awful. Part of his self-narrative was that he was stupid, that he had no friends and that he knew he was out of control but could not help it. I was even more horrified as my parents (who were in town to see my kids' games) had to witness this decompensation. Needless to say, he lost the privilege of the game and ended up banished to his room. I ended up sitting on my laundry room floor in tears. My mother just sat there and cried with me.
So, I'm broken. My oldest does not want me in the car with her (for the next year), my next-born is bummed with my genetic contribution to her being, one of my boys thinks I don't care about his memories and another is feeling helpless and stupid. Not batting 1000 on the motherhood front.
Last night, I found myself on my knees, with my husband praying over each of our children individually. I've asked God to help me love them well. Give me patience. Give me kindness, especially when my reserve is thin. Help me to reflect the love of Christ to my children. Help me to remind them they are loved and chosen. In my heart, I prayed over them multiple Scriptures. I keep coming back to 1 Corinthians 13:4-12:
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.
It is amazing what parenting can do to your prayer life... it brings you to your knees over and over again.
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