The Illusion of Control


It's been a good long while since I've come through the doors of this old, beloved cottage, where I transcribed the happenings of early, early motherhood and by which I kept slippery sanity from slipping out my back pocket.

I started an online magazine, and attended a book club with women I love. That's it. Those are the only two outside activities I have engaged in the past year. Oh. And being a mother of two first graders, a preschooler and two four year old twins. That last sentence is really what takes up 98.9 percent of my energy. The rest I give away---yes a generous 1.1%, but right now that is the best I can do. Forget world peace. Sure I would like it, but today it's keeping my children alive, and on most days, I hope to do a little bit more than that and love them well.

Tonight I wanted to dust off the doorway because I need to start sharing my heart again...when it's fresh and unformulated and not only when a deadline tells me I must manufacture day-old material. Tonight I need to write out that the last few weeks, and especially days, have spelled out something very clearly to me. It's a fact that I would have acknowledged in a general sense over coffee with a friend or maybe even underlined in a book had I ever read it. It seems so painfully obvious, but gosh darn it---it's been hiding in the fog of "getting by" until now, when the haze has been blown away and I'm facing the crystal clear truth that


Oh my word. What weak-kneed  parent says that? The former me would have said a parent who doesn't discipline well or consistently, who doesn't seek God's help, who doesn't instill proper boundaries, who doesn't creatively think up clever incentives and clear-set penalties. Now, I am empty of accusation even as I still believe ALL THOSE THINGS are good and right, because sometimes..some. times. God gives us an opportunity that comes in form of a beautiful, intelligent and quite frankly amazing child whose spirit and will are so forged with steel that it leaves the one in charge of channeling it completely and utterly flummoxed. To answer the question at the beginning of this paragraph: A parent whose knees are weak only because they spend so much time on them because they have no where else to go.

And here's another truth: NOT EVERYONE HAS A CHILD THEY REALIZE THEY CAN'T CONTROL.  This is true. Not everyone understands this, and that is alright. Really. Everyone has there own battle, and many are far worse than mine, with children who battle underlying currents of disease, disorders and effects from the womb of which was not theirs. And many have children-maybe even all of their offspring- whom are by no means perfect, yet who do not put up a fight for control every. hour. of. the. day.  Their battle is another one...or  perhaps this one, but it comes later on down the road. It doesn't matter. What matters is that now I am less quick to judge, because I know it's not always easy as one, two, three.

This whole idea of the FACADE of CONTROL starts the moment we even think about having children. I was born in 1977. Eight years and several miscarriages later, my mom gave birth to my little sister. Two years after that, another sister. They didn't "PLAN" that. Anyone who says THEY planned there's number and it's spacing, really (I'll give them the benefit of the doubt) are simply saying "God kindly obliged our hope for what could be". That's what it boils down to. There are PLENTY of couples who have PLANNED and for whatever reason, the plan was tossed to the wind and blueprint came back looking VERY different....or not even at all.

This points to the fact that control was never actually really ours to begin with...and just because we may have been graciously given CHARGE of children, does not mean we actually can, when it comes down to it, CONTROL them. We can't make their hearts feel remorse, or force them to swallow yucky medicine or make them "click" with a friend we want for them. And should that even be our desire? Probably not, but that's for another post and another day when my brain cells are sitting up in their chairs, not slouched over, barely awake. I know all this is terribly obvious to most, but for me this week the concreteness of this truth really clicked in a personal way. And acknowledging it helps. A little.

For all the times this week that my basest self came to the surface at breathtaking speeds, for all the moments I swore loudly in my head in emotional impulse instead of praying, for all the times I DID pray fervently and still felt empty, for the two times I had to lock myself in my room to regulate my ugly emotions/instincts and for all the answers that I simply can NOT see coming easily...I am SO humbly GRATEFUL God gave me this little life that has, from the moment of birth, come into my world so deeply determined to forge their own path, because I think (IF we survive each other with any sanity in tact) her Divinely-ordained adventure is going to be FLAT OUT AMAZING. Don't get me wrong, I haven't surrendered  the need for creating safe boundaries and allowing natural consequences and all that good hard stuff that tells a child they are loved...but the ILLUSION that I have bottom line CONTROL has shown its flimsy facade. I am fooled no more, and better for it.

Now. I must go.
My night cap is waiting.

Love and Grace to you,


Carla said…
Wow, Jeane this was the first time I have seen your blog. You write beautifully! Although these days are long past for me I enjoyed it very much.
debi said…
I so admire your honesty... As I read this post I had to ask myself, Is she writing about my Khloe? (grand daughter)..
I raised to sons and neither really showed signs of a strong will..but Khole who I care for five days a week...YIKES Never quite sure how to handle some I know what I as a Mom would have done but the ordinary ways of discipline that worked with my sons...well, not so much with her! More time on my knees :-) Enjoyed reading your truths as always.

Oh my goodness, the first thing I thought when I saw your title was "You, too?!!" God has been opening my eyes and softening my heart in all kinds of relationships & life circumstances, showing me that I. Am. Not. In. Control. And it all started with one little in utero kick-boxer (who just turned four, bless all our hearts). Thank God for the wild ones, who grind and polish and temper our steel with their own. And thank you for your post. My own brain cells were slouched very low indeed in their chairs when I clicked over here, but are now sitting up a little more straightly (straightly? wait, that's not a word ....)

Peace to you as you parent your wild one, and wisdom, and as much sleep as is motherly possible!
KathyB. said…
You are blessed to be aware of this now in the early years of your parenthood and God has given you discernment so many I know did not receive ( they were unwilling to see this ) until the wreckage of their child's youth became the wreckage of their child's adulthood with far-reaching devastation for a whole family.

To see this now is to rejoice in knowing He really will answer prayers, give you His wisdom & discernment, in His time and yes, this child with the love and prayers of godly parents, can very well be used mightily for Him...and be one of the best gifts to you all. For sure, this child will make life interesting and keep you praying, and that is ( yes , over-used but sincere word ) a BLESSING.
Glad to see you're back.
What "online mag"? Go you!

Fantastic post. I can totally relate, too. One of my children is pushing me far, far past the point I can handle. I feel at a loss so, so often.

This line resonated most with me:
"Oh my word. What weak-kneed parent says that? The former me would have said a parent who doesn't discipline well or consistently, who doesn't seek God's help, who doesn't instill proper boundaries, who doesn't creatively think up clever incentives and clear-set penalties. Now, though…

YES. It reminded me of some of my own conclusions about how the formulas and plans I laid early on in parenting fell so very far short. And needed to be reworked. And so did my thinking.
I wrote about it in
Between permissive and over-controlling parenting: a middle way

I'm finding the "middle way" can sometimes be a confusing - and very very humbling one - to navigate!

Blessings to you and your adorable crew.
Anonymous said…
Hee hee hee. Yes, I have one of those too. It's the quick road to obliterating parenting self-righteousness. Thanks, God, for the shortcut to being less of a know-it-all! -Sarah G

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