It’s hard to believe we are almost through week 5 of the school year. Maybe you are a returning family, maybe you’re new to the school and to the idea of being such a big part of your child’s education. But either way, if you are like most of us, you’ve found yourself asking more than once in the last 5 weeks, “Is this really worth it?” 

All of our parents have big lives going on, personally, professionally, and within their families. It begs the question, not just from outsiders, but sometimes within ourselves, “Is this really worth it?” We have beautiful days where everything goes as planned and we can’t think of a better way to order these family years and educate our children. But then we have those hard days, where nothing goes as planned, schoolwork is taking entirely too long, and you and your child keep going head to head about that one subject they just can’t stand. Maybe you’re thinking, “I’m totally screwing this up. They are seeing a frustrated, overwhelmed side of me that I don’t like. We were supposed to be doing this for the BENEFIT of more time together. For these supposedly picture perfect scenes of schoolwork around the table, lots of beautiful, rich books, and more time to play. But instead, it’s chaos and it’s stressful. And, are they really learning? Surely they will do better under the direction of someone else ALL five days of the week, not just 2 or 3.”

But that, dear one, is where you are wrong. YOU, in all your imperfect mess, are the absolute best place for your child to land, no matter what society, the “church,” and the school system has to say. We’ve crippled parents to think they are incapable. But, God chose YOU and created each one of your kids to uniquely fit with YOU. You were perfectly crafted to parent your child, mistakes and all.

I think sometimes we believe that we are best for our child only when WE are at our best. But, this is a lie. The Adversary did well with this one because it gets us thinking that the daily grind isn’t worth it if you fail. That you might as well give up because there’s too many chaotic days, not enough of those Pinterest home education days, and certainly not enough “I love math” sessions happening around the dining room table. But, these are lies.

“The most powerful, meaning making moments in our relationships with our children happen in these incredibly imperfect moments.” (Brene Brown), and what better way to create an incredibly imperfect moment than to oversee your child’s schoolwork at home! Kidding. But not really.

Maybe this new style is exposing your weaknesses more, maybe it’s forcing your family to be the messy, imperfect people that you actually are, instead of stuffing it away or pretending it doesn’t exist. Maybe it’s forcing you to build the sacred, to have the hard, but meaningful conversations, the ones that really matter. Maybe it’s linking arms with your child and sympathizing with their struggle, giving an example from your own life. Maybe it’s learning to say the words, “I’m sorry. Mommy was being really impatient. Will you forgive me?” Maybe it’s learning to slow life down, to say no to crazy extracurriculars so you have time to read to your kids or take a walk.

Maybe it’s all those things and then some. But what it surely is, without a doubt, is saying yes to the imperfect. And when your kids grow up and look back, the gift of your imperfect parenting is worth every single moment.

When we live WITH our kids, not simply among them for a few hours after every day of a 40-hour full-time school week, we are giving the incredible opportunity to say yes to the glorious mess. Why do you want the glorious mess? Because at the end of the day you AND your children can say, “Yes, I was imperfect. Yes, I was vulnerable, and I was even afraid. But, I’m also brave and worthy of love and belonging, simply because Jesus made me.” And let me tell you dear ones, that is NOT the message the world gives our children.

So could you be getting “free hours” away from your kids for 30 hours a week instead? Yes. Could you be choosing to not be in the trenches of their education? Yes. Could you be doing something else entirely with your time instead of learning how to be a better more calming parent, a better teacher of your child, and a Singapore math expert (haha)? Yes.

But dear ones, these years are short. Soon, your home will be quiet again and these mini humans will be adults. Yes, one day you WILL be able to order your weekly “free time” however you want. You WILL have more lunches out with friends, and more early morning quiet than chaos. But right now, you’ve chosen the unique path of creating the sacred, in all its mess, WITH your children, not just among them. You’ve chosen the gift of time to not just educate well, but to be there to give the important messages of Jesus, of the cost and value of showing up, of being brave, and the insurmountable message that love and belonging are your birthright no matter what the world tells you.

It’s okay to say it’s hard. It’s okay to say it’s not always fun, and it’s okay to look forward to the day you are at the top of the summit of Mt. Everest and these years are “complete.” So even when it feels like you are drowning in papers, schoolwork, and chaos, know that this time you’ve chosen to engage, to pay attention, and to do the hard life in front of your children is a relatively short season.

Is it worth it?

It absolutely is. The summit of any mountain is not easy. Most of the time, we don’t even recognize its beauty, or its affect until we have reached the top.

So until then, keep climbing. Keep showing up…

For more encouragement, check out Brene Brown’s book (print or audio) The Gift of Imperfect Parenting.