Do you remember the movie, Apollo 13? There’s this scene where the astronauts are headed back to earth and have to perform a manual course correction. The plan is to burn the engines for 39 seconds while keeping the earth in the window, thus ensuring they’re headed in the right direction. Sounds simple enough, right? But then, they light the engines, and their ship dances around like an ADHD 4-year-old on Kool-Aid and cupcakes. For 39 seconds, they shift up, shift down, move this direction and that, while the earth goes in and out of view. And just at the last second when you think there’s no way they’re going to get their ship pointed in the right direction, the earth settles in the window, and they turn off the engines.
Sometimes, that’s what parenting feels like. You look at your tiny baby, look at your spouse, and say, “All we have to do is keep our eyes on God. Teach this little guy about the Lord, teach him Scriptures, teach him to pray. Get him educated and grow him strong. Ready and . . . go!
And then it’s 18 years of: “More church. Wait, that’s too much. Too busy. Back off. Read him Scriptures. Uh-oh, he’s rolling his eyes. Look for life lessons to teach. Wait, more Scriptures. Stop yelling. Oh, wait, that’s me. Less of this, more of that, get the Lord back in the window . . .” And then, God-willing, just as you’re ready to send them off on their own, they get it figured out. At least that’s the prayer.
I’m still in that crazy time, trying to figure out parenting. Just when one thing starts to work, another thing falls apart. What works for one kid sends another into a tailspin. I try, I fail, I yell, and I spend a lot of time—a LOT of time—in prayer.
If you’re in the throes of parenting and it feels like that 39 seconds on Apollo 13, you’re not alone. Find other parents to share your struggles with and pray a lot. If you’ve raised your kids, you might consider offering help, counsel, or prayer for a younger couple. And if you don’t have any kids, please hold back your judgments. The vast majority of us are doing our best, and it’s a lot harder than it looks.
Do you have any parenting advice to share today?
Have any parenting stories you’d like to share?
Robin Patchen lives in Edmond, Oklahoma, with her husband and three teenagers. She is the author of two books, Faith House and One Christmas Eve, both Christmas stories. Read excerpts and find out more at her website.