“Please tell me your son did stupid stuff when he was a little boy,” I begged my friend as I watched our sons sit side by side in a restaurant. I was desperate to know there was hope for my seven-year-old who was acting a fool while my friend’s son, age 11, behaved like a normal human with good manners and some semblance of social grace.
“Well, to be honest, he really didn’t…he was always a pretty good kid,” my friend responded.
I felt like I got punched in the gut.
It wasn’t because of her response; she was just being honest, and I had asked the question. I think I felt defeated in that moment because I believed my son would never change, that he’d always be the “hey-look-shiny-things” kid with behavioral issues and a major lack of self-control.
Was I worried about him? A little bit.
Was I worried about me, about how I was being perceived as his mother? Umm, yeah…a lot bit.
I’m quick to own my kids’ successes. My daughter’s teacher recently complimented her in front of me, and I beamed with pride…over what an amazing mother I am. Of course I patted my eight-year-old on the back and told her that she’s amazing, but inside I gave myself a major fist bump and congratulated myself on being an all-around fantastic maternal specimen.
Sometimes I really gross myself out.
I want the glory for the good and anonymity for the not-so-good. I allow my success as a mother to be defined by my children’s victories, and I also identify myself with their failures. The court of public opinion is always in the back of my mind, and I imagine I hear their cheers and jeers, respectively.
I care about that court way too much.
The truth is, my kids come from a long line of sinners, and by “a long line” I’m referring to my husband’s side of the family.
The real reason the stupid stuff they do gets under my skin so badly is because it reminds me of ME.
I remember what it feels like to act a fool and make bad choices. I remember because I did both earlier today.
The reason I often feel like I’m raising hellions is because I am, and it takes one to know one. It’s simple genetics. Since the woman first took a bite of the forbidden fruit and the man followed along, we’ve all been prone to sin. It’s in our DNA. Even my friend’s son who “was always a pretty good kid” is, at his core, a hellion.
This sounds depressing, doesn’t it? Well take heart, because there’s good news:
We have a very real, very loving Father in Heaven who wants to love the hell right out of us.
He saw our desperate need, the bottomless pits of depravity that threatened to swallow us up, and He said: