"We need to talk," my husband told me last night. One of our kids had done something dumb. I'm 20 years into this mothering thing, and it is not news to me that kids do dumb things. But this-- I wasn't sure how to respond to this. I was furious. I knew that fury wasn't going to do anybody any good, but I was furious nonetheless.
I woke up at 3:00 this morning and tossed and turned and fretted. I stewed about it all day; I kept having to yank my thoughts back to the oral finals I was listening to. And then tonight my husband and I sat down with the kid in question.
Ten years ago I was on the other side of this situation with a different kid, and it did a lot of damage to our relationship with the other family. I was on the other side of this situation myself as a kid, and I knew objectively that my own experiences were a big part of the fury. I didn't want to get it wrong. I didn't know how to get it right.
For a chunk of the conversation I just sat there and prayed: Come, Holy Spirit; come, Spirit of truth. And I think, as I sit here and reflect on the situation, that it went better than I had dared to hope. I think we know the truth; I know the kid is repentant; I am pretty sure we have a plan.
After the dust settled my husband and I were talking about it. "This parenting thing is hard," he said. "We're twenty years in," I told him. "Shouldn't we have it mostly figured out by now?" "I'm not sure about that," he answered, shaking his head. "I'm not sure."
Mostly when I write about my kids I want to tell you that they are terrific and funny and bookish and delightful. Mostly when I write about parenting I want to tell you the things I have figured out over the years. But sometimes I need to tell you that this is a tough gig. Sometimes you do the very best you can and it still feels crummy. Sometimes all you can do is pray, and hope for the best, and tell them that you love them anyway.