When taking on more leadership roles, the area of greatest concern for me (and my husband) was my capacity still to be a present and caring mother and wife. Given that this was a struggle before these roles (as I’m sure it is for most), it was a valid concern. My family, and particularly raising my daughter, is my highest calling after following God. There was a time that I didn’t feel that way. I felt frustrated and hemmed in by the responsibilities of parenthood when my heart longed to be doing something “greater” like living overseas doing full time missions. As part of this journey (or maybe as a precursor to it during a season of “wait”), God was bringing my heart back to its right place with this. One example that sticks in my mind is reading the genealogy of Jesus. There are very few women mentioned and each has their own story of faith and obedience. What struck me most, though, was that these women raised godly children with a heart to follow and be obedient themselves. As a relatively new parent of a four year old, I already recognise that this is quite a feat, particularly these days. I came to a new revelation of just how critical my role as a parent is. I don’t know who my daughter will grow up to be, or what impact she will have on the world.
I have to make a choice to step out in faith and believe that if God has called me to a position, He will equip me for it. This equipping will not only be for the particulars of the role but also the energy and passion I need for my parenting and other relationships. This is all dependent on walking closely with God and using His strength and resources, not my own of course! This means that I do fall short more often than I’d like.
The times when I am snappy, my frustration tolerance is low, I don’t want to play or set up fun things for my daughter, I allow more and more screen time are all good indicators for me that something is off kilter in my soul and/or spirit. If I take them as that, I can step back and put in place the rest, God time or better choices that are needed. It has also given me the opportunities to model humility and apologising to my daughter. I tend to get a very clear “slap in the face” so to speak when I am like that with her as she is very sensitive to other people’s emotions or the sense that she is in trouble and becomes very distressed. Your daughter sobbing because you’ve overreacted to something small is a quick arrow to my heart that I have a choice to do something about.
None of us will ever be a perfect parent. I know I get things wrong daily. I am coming to understand that increasing capacity in my parenting through God’s enabling and my choices is about learning to recognise those mistakes as an opportunity for a better choice and living out the faith and behaviour I expect of my daughter. So often I realise that I expect better behaviour from her than I demand from myself. It also brings opportunity to ask for help. Our society can be so isolated that it is easy for me as an introvert to shy away from community when I need it most. I have amazing family and friends who are able and willing to spend time with and speak into my daughter’s life. I have to be willing to step out of my self-sufficient illusion and access that help.
I have come to a realisation that I wasn’t entirely expecting is that I am a better parent in some ways because I am taking on other roles. Walking in my purpose and feeling fulfilled more as a person aside from my identity as a parent puts me in a better headspace to be a parent and wife. This isn’t always the case (see above!) but a true general principle in my experience. I desire to give my daughter an example of walking with God, following His leading and being obedient to His callings.
Parenting is my calling in life before any other position, role or leadership opportunity. There are days when I feel very low in my capacity but it is a journey and a process.
What do you do to increase your parenting capacity?
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