By Sandy Welch Thompson

Let me first preface this post by saying that I dearly love all three of my children. I am blessed and I truly know it. There is nothing in this world that I could have done to deserve the amazing experiences I have enjoyed as a parent. Grace and Mercy – that is simply all there is to it.

I wouldn’t trade being a mom for anything BUT, let’s just be honest here, okay. Cause you know I will be, whether you want it or not. It’s not a bed of roses all the time. With three girls ranging from 20 down to 9 years old, my emotions run amuck several times a day. I guess I could call parenting be a bed of roses, but you can bet those roses still have the thorns on them and they’ll poke ya when you don’t expect it! Some days I flat can’t do anything right, for ANY of them. On these days, there is no amount of comfort in the world that can save my heart from feeling like a failure. The teenager could just hate me for any number of reasons. The 4th grader thinks I’m ruining her life because I’ve made her wear pants instead of shorts when there is snow on the ground and the 2nd grader thinks brushing her teeth is punishment. You can’t imagine the wailing that comes from asking this horrific event be done for two minutes.

Ever have those moments? Boy I do! And more of them than I ever thought possible. I’m tough. I’m old. I’m pretty weathered on a lot of life, so I figured by the time I had my third daughter, this parenting gig would be easy. I thought for sure by this stage in my life, I would be giving advice to all my friends – maybe even talk a mom or two off the ledge the first time their kid thought they were stupid. Lord was I wrong! And I don’t just mean wrong. I mean dead wrong.

Oh I’ve tried to anticipate what might set off one of my kids on a given day, but it’s like the lottery. You may guess at the scenarios that could play out, but you have no idea what the trigger will be. Then BINGO! That number comes up and it goes downhill fast!

I bet you’ve tried to gauge this in your own world too. Truth is, you can’t know. It’s random. That’s God’s unique way of making us learn and it keeps us on our toes. So… SURPRISE! Right when you think you’ve got stuff all figured out, the rules change and you have no idea what happened! Toss in a mix of varying personalities by your offspring and, well…good luck!

Oh sure, when I feel defeated, I’ve relied on the old saying, “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.” Well let your old friend Sandy tell ya a little sumpin’ sumpin’ about that. I personally want to squeeze the person that made up that ignorant quote! As a parent, I have made lemonade, lemon cake, lemon pie, lemon jello, wrote a whole danged lemon recipe book and it still hasn’t saved me.

What is perfectly acceptable one day, is not the next. I don’t know if it’s just a girl thing or not. Lord forbid I betray my gender and mention that females are fickle, but what else do I have to go from? My house is riddled with estrogen and yes, I blame it for so, so many events.

Sidebar: My poor husband hasn’t got a prayer. I don’t know if he’s ever intentionally been in touch with his feminine side, but he’s had a mani/pedi before, courtesy of the little ones while he was asleep. That counts right?

What I can tell you honestly is that the only thing predictable in my home is unpredictability. I won’t ever claim to know everything, but I’d love to get credit once in a while for knowing SOMETHING. I even toss in the old standard, starting with “Back in my day…” to lend some credence to the wealth of knowledge I’ve gleaned over the years.

Usually it’s rebuked quickly with a fabulous retort such as, “Oh lord mom, really? Not this again.”

With all of this, you wonder what parenting is supposed to be. Half the time they don’t listen to you, the other half they question what you tell them. It’s quite a challenge I do say.

But…then again every so often, just every so often, you catch them repeating some little nugget that you shared. A tiny little morsel you imparted somewhere down the line, and bam! Redemption! Things like Leah (9), telling her dad that momma makes the best scrambled eggs in the whole world. Or Teenie (11), being in awe that I can make a God’s Eye out of yarn. (Look it up if you are too young to know). Or even Emily…quoting me to her friends, saying “You can’t fix stupid”, in true Sandy style.

My own goal is just not to warp them too severely before they are raised. And therein lies the reward for parenting. Experiencing those rare occurrences when your kids recall some tiny piece of brilliance you imparted and reminded you that you are the true center of their universe. Thank goodness this happens from time to time.

Bed of roses? No. Most of the time you feel like the flower of the family alright. That is…a blooming idiot. But a sprinkle of that sweetness in those offspring here and there makes that lemonade a lot less bitter.