Sometimes the Business of Doing gets in the way of the Business of Parenting.
I am a stay at home mom of 3 little people. 10,7, & 2. My life consists of a lot of doing. I do breakfast, I pack lunches, I wake them up and help them pick out clothes. I ensure proper outwear and walk them to school. I do
meaningful and elaborate activities with the toddler, after school snacks, ensure homework is done, piano is practiced, physical activity is achieved, books are read, bedtime is appropriate, bodies are clean, love is felt, bellies are full… it’s a lot of doing!
My husband… he does work.
Do you see how LONG MY LIST IS!!?! I obviously DO more than he does.
The boy child is learning how to use and abuse his technology privileges. Tech time is an constant battle in our (and I’m sure your) household. He broke a few rules, did a few inappropriate things, and it was time for some punishment.
The husband jumped, he was ready, it was as if it was exactly the kind of thing he was made for!
And I was offended and judgmental and undoubtedly controlling.
In my head I thought: So, wait… I do all this doing… and now when it’s time to do something important you are just going to take it. Wait if you do it wrong!?! I’ve done so much getting ready for these things, and now you are going to screw it up!? If its going to get screwed up it should be me screwing it up, I’m the do-er!
So I said something like: So you’d better do it right, so do it gently and firmly, and let him know it’s not ok but he’s loved, and don’t break him but don’t be soft, and I know you can do it, but be careful.
There are so many things wrong with all the ways I treated him in that moment. Like he needed my permission to parent, like he didn’t know what he was doing, that I doubted that he would make good decisions or do the right thing for our son. That somehow he needed my blessing to do anything with our kids.
Wait what!?! He is a parent, their parent. In fact when it comes down to it, he is way better at parenting than I am. He is rational, logical, thoughtful, kind, generous, always gives the kids (and me) the benefit of the doubt, never raises his voice, and they always come away with a new respect for him, our family and themselves. Seriously, he is A GREAT parent.
“As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”
“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.” Luke 10:38-42
I am so much a Martha. I do it all, and I whine about it frequently. And I expect everyone to do it all. But Mary, Mary knew the important stuff. She sat at the foot of Jesus in the one moment that was important. She tried to get Martha to sit down too, but Martha was too busy puttering, and keeping herself doing to actually do what she was supposed to be doing.
My husband, he’s a Mary. He walks through this life with a laser focused vision on what’s important. He jumped on the chance to talk to our son, not because it was an opportunity to correct him, or even to help me do (surprisingly, it wasn’t about me at all), but because he knew it was impactful. That one conversation was more meaningful than 1,000 packed lunches, and he knew it.
We are created differently, my husband and I. I am a Martha, he’s a Mary. I am a hypersensitive extrovert with way too much energy. He is a textbook introvert who is comfortable with the quiet. I love to see new places, do new things, exhaust myself with experience. He is comfortable with the known. I like to try new food, he has eaten the same way since he was 6. But it works, he and I. We have achieved a comfortable balance in our 15 years. A few spats along the way have allowed us both to grow and to see the world through another lens.
It seems that the business of doing, while somewhat necessary and well intentioned, pales in comparison to the business of parenting. Let us not confuse them. We can do all we want to for and with our children, but if we don’t parent them we are doing them a grave disservice. I am grateful to have a Mary-type partner on this journey. He reminds me to sit at the foot of what’s important, to pause, for even the briefest of moments and to stop doing for the sake of doing.