As parents, we work very hard trying to ensure that our kids are perfect. Sometimes I question whether I do that for them, or to avoid embarrassment for myself! This week alone, one of my kids made a 67/F on a science test, another one rolled the window down in the carwash (yes, that really happened), and another one said I was mean! The expectation of perfection is ridiculous and unattainable. Why do we insist on torturing ourselves and our children by expecting perfection in their social life, academic life, and extracurricular life?
Recently, I took my four-year-old to get her scheduled shots.
This is our baby, the youngest, the pre-mature baby that was taken from our arms and placed in the neonatal intensive care unit at Greenville Hospital System in Greenville, South Carolina. Have you ever driven away from the hospital, after your baby is born, with a new car seat that was empty? The silence in the car is deafening. It hurts! We did not “get” the perfect baby.
Two weeks later, we were able to bring that sweet baby home – our third child, and our last child. Now she is a four-year-old with curly blond hair, pink glasses, and the perfect grin that will melt you in seconds, and she is getting her four-year-old shots! I hate it for her and want to protect her, but as her parents, we know it is best. Toward the end of the well-visit, she gets tears in her eyes as we let her know that she is going to receive these shots. The nurse folds her legs over the end of the table and I fold her arms over her chest and hold her down, as they ask the parent to do many times. I stare straight into her eyes and tell her that she is going to be okay. I tell her it will hurt, but it will be over fast.
She is a fighter. She looks at me and says, “I’m not going to cry, Daddy.” I begin to get teary-eyed as I look back at this child that once had a feeding tube, and so many medical sounds and lights beeping and blinking around her. The nurse gives the shots quickly and the biggest tears run down this sweet girl’s face, but she never makes a sound.
My heart is screaming for her but she grits her teeth and stares into my eyes. “Why are you crying daddy? Did you get shots too?” “No baby, I am just so proud of you.” At that moment, she looks up at the nurse and says, “Thank you for my shots. I know I need them and you were nice.”
In that moment, all of the worry of how my children may embarrass me disappears. My little fighter, my “thank you for my shots” baby now understands life at a higher level than some ever will. It hurts but I know it is good for me. I may tear up, but I will fight because I know it is right. Wow, I love this life that the HE has blessed me with!
Instead of striving for perfection, I have revised my recommendations to myself regarding my children:
- I Pray, Pray, Pray that my children show Christ through their actions each day.
- I Pray, Pray, Pray that they have great teachers who inspire, motivate, and teach them that service to others is more important than service to self.
- I Pray, Pray, Pray that I am leaving a legacy that they can be proud of.
- I Pray, Pray, Pray that I teach them love through my actions.
- I Pray, Pray, Pray that anyone crossing paths with my children will love them as Christ would love them.
And, actually, as I pray for my children, I think I will continue to pray for perfection. Only now, I will pray for His perfect will in their lives, instead of their behavior being perfect as defined by the world…..I will pray that they connect to HIM in a way that their questions are few and their purpose is clear. He has already designed them as perfect! I pray I don’t mess that up!