I just want a win.

If you would have asked me weeks ago how I would have rated my parenting on a scale of 1-10, I would’ve most likely said a solid 8. We had our stickered chore charts completed, routines mastered, multiple sporting events to attend, a family vacation to plan, and more than enough church gatherings to keep us engaged. We were winning...or so we thought.

Then Covid-19 happened. 

In a matter of days we watched our entire sense of normalcy free fall into massive uncertainty while we anxiously digested losing one freedom at a time. What should have been an exciting spring had become a season that I can say I will never forget. #socialdistancing #shelterinplace … need I say more?

The first week at home was actually refreshing. With no expectations to go anywhere, no school work to worry about, a new sense of freedom emerged and we loosened the reins a little. We focused on creativity, rest and fun and let it all go for a while. (Movie night every night, anyone?)

But by week 3 my 2nd grader was hitting his tolerance for school at home and pushing back at everything we asked him to do while my toddlers were literally bouncing off the walls looking for new ways to entertain themselves. To top it off, this mama was feeling long overdue for self care and “me time.” 

Then on a particularly challenging day filled with toddler tears, tantrums and extremely high feelings, I broke. The chore and routine charts went back up, firm bedtime boundaries were enforced and I tirelessly began researching behavior blogs for wisdom on how to navigate this new chaos.

Truth be told I just wanted a win and to feel successful in my parenting. I was convinced that if I had the right tools in place or said the right thing then my kids would obey and be successful. But alas, the next day I found myself more irritable and in desperate need of perspective. I retreated to the shower and tears fell. Then I heard a familiar voice interrupt my breakdown:

Daughter,  the evidence of your parenting success is not based on how well your kids can follow routines or on their outward behavior at all. True success is based on the evidence that they feel loved and are secure in MY love for them. Speak out my steadfast love for them, meet me in prayer and search my Word for wisdom. That alone will give you satisfaction, not any worldly advice or perfectionist routines. I am steadfast, certain and unchanging. Trust me.

My tears stopped and I felt as though a huge burden had been lifted. Then I was lead to Isaiah 54:13:

“All your children will have GOD for their teacher— what a mentor for your children! You’ll be built solid, grounded in righteousness, far from any trouble—nothing to fear! Far from terror—it won’t even come close! If anyone attacks you, don’t for a moment suppose that I sent them, And if any should attack, nothing will come of it. “

During seasons of unrest when “normal” has been completely dismantled, it’s natural to seek tangible, immediate “wins”, or sure markers of success in parenting to help us feel more in control. More times than not these wins are actually slyly disguised distractions taking us off the path of true victory of knowing that our child’s purpose and outcome is largely in the hands of God. He chose us to be their parents and doesn’t make mistakes.

Today let us seek wisdom and victory from the one who made us and lives within us. This will be our greatest success knowing that we surrendered our children confidently to the one who knows them best. #winning

Esther “Annie” Rhoades is a mom to three, wild and free kids and has been happily married to her best friend, Jon, for over 10 years. Annie values experience over things and loves yoga with worship music, diving into the word, hosting, thrifting, making healthy goodies, and traveling.