I am starting to think I have a knack for speed. Yes, beneath the surface of my driving skills, beyond the slow careful driving and the improvements in reversing (this is a big deal J), perhaps therein lies a speed monster. One thing I am sure, it will not be with dad’s truck. Anyhow, that’s beside the point. I prefer manual cars to automatic cars, simply because I find the former more engaging, more invigorating, more riveting. The whole change of gears, ‘listening’ to the car’s engine, and zooming along on gear 5 on long clear stretches (hello road trip to Narok), it’s just, fascinating.
This is not a tutorial about driving so hold on, I am going somewhere with this analogy. The basics of driving a manual car require that you know how to balance the clutch pedal and the gas pedal if you are to make any progress. This is not the hard part. The hard part (at least for many learners) is doing so, on a hill, commonly referred to as a hill start. Dreaded this damn part during my driving test.
Ideally, to do a hill start, you’d have to find the select gear one and step on the gas pedal to rev the engines, after which you slowly release the clutch to the biting point. This is the point at which the engine connects with the wheels, and the engine sound changes. This delicate balancing act determines whether or not you do the hill start well. Failure to balance it out will result in the momentary panic attack of rolling backwards.
I still haven’t perfected the hill start thing, and today’s failure to pull this off got me thinking about the same approach in parenting. Parenting is about getting the perfect delicate balance. As mom to a 3-year old who has the energy of combined nuclear plants, this balance comes into play daily, in more ways than I can count.
My son, active as he is, is bound to make mummy angry. Granted, I am tasked with the responsibility of raising up a godly man who will influence his generation. Admittedly, this does not come easy. It calls for discipline. Doesn’t the Bible say in Proverbs 13:24 that he who withholds the rod hates his own child? So discipline is paramount.
The second part of that verse says ‘‘… but he who loves him (his son) is careful to discipline him’’. Other versions say ‘’… he who loves him disciplines him diligently’’. Perhaps that is the part a number of us miss, careful, diligent disciplining. During the first two years I experienced Post-Partum Depression, I might as well have not had this verse in my Bible.
I beat my son, the first time at three weeks after birth, and many times after that. Beating, in every sense of the word. The frustrations of PPD, the sad sunken feeling, the loneliness… yet to the outside world, and my FB friends, I was enjoying motherhood. I’d beat him so bad. The terrified screams of an infant who could barely speak haunt me sometimes. The long hours of nothing but crying amid shortness of breath, that would eventually give way to labored sobs. And this would launch my own torrents of tears, guilty, angry at myself but most of all, the fact that I felt like I was never the best mom for him.
PPD took a good two years of my life, and my involvement in my sons. It’s been a long journey, one whose first step was to accept that I was depressed. I cried out to God on many nights. When David says in Psalms 42:3, My tears have been my food day and night, I can (almost) relate. On many days I’d cry, right beside my wailing son, swaddled in his cozy baby shawl… wondering what the hell was wrong with me. Finding grace in this fight against PPDemons (as one of my favorite bloggers Yael, the brains behind PPD to Joy ) has been a long journey.
God was present, even when I didn’t feel like it. He carried me, us through it all. He came in the form of family and supportive friends, friends who stuck when I was nothing but a mess, and loathed the very thought of motherhood. It is this experience that birthed the idea of a blog to help other moms who may be going through this anguish of PPD.
Back to the disciplining, I am learning to find that all so elusive balance. I am learning to create new bonds with my son, learning to become involved, actively present in his life. I am learning that with parenting, the trick lies in maintaining the bonds as well as keeping tabs on parental authority and respect. It means I will make time for my son, I will enjoy wrestling him (sometimes), I will enjoy competing with him to see who finishes brushing their teeth first. But anytime he calls another child ‘pumpkin head’ in Swahili, I will have to discipline him, carefully, diligently.
It is the perfect delicate balance required of me, and just like the clutch/gas balance scenario, it takes time, effort, practice and prayer. When I experience the hill-starts in parenting, may I remember to find a balance, may I be reminded that even in my imperfect balancing, God’s grace will meet me there. Finding balance.
Photo credits: Gravity Glue