Last Sunday, we began a new study on parenting in our young families Sunday school class. Devin and I co-teach, and since I am clearly the superior parent of the two (it was just my turn) it was decided I would be the primary teacher of this much needed subject.

After I perched myself on my stool, organized my notes on the stand and addressed the class, I began. As a way of encouraging an atmosphere of open discussion, I asked them to share some of their frustrations in being a parent. WOW! Did they open up! This once, quiet and reserved class, opened up and began to pour out what we ALL of have felt at one time or another.

If you are a parent, if you have a sibling who is a parent, if you have been on a plane, in a shopping mall or a doctors office with a child and parent……or if you have been within a three mile radius of a child….period…then you know what kind of frustration I am talking about!

Now don’t get me wrong. I LOVE my children, all four of them! I have LOVED every minute (well maybe not EVERY minute) of being a mother over the past 22 years and I believe there is no higher calling or more rewarding job than being a parent. BUT I also know how frustrating it can be raising well balanced, well mannered, well spoken, well behaved, compassionate, loving, responsible, honest all around good kids! Sometimes, as a parent, lets face it….it can be just plain frustrating!

As I was preparing for the class I began to think of my own parenting ups and downs….especially when tackling the basic coping skills that children need to know, I was reminded of a specific teaching moment with Caleb….my perfectionist.

Caleb has a bad habit of being the pickiest child that ever walked planet earth. And, to make life a little harder…..he over-thinks everything! One area where this is most evident is his clothes. EVERYTHING needs to be perfect. His pants and shorts have to be a certain length, his shirts can’t look big or be too long, the color, style and the patterns have to be perfect and the shoes…..that’s the worst, don’t even get me started on the shoes!

While in Branson, shopping for school clothes last summer (after a brief come to Jesus meeting), I explained to Caleb that if he liked what he was wearing, that was all that really mattered and not to worry about what everybody else was thinking. I encouraged him to just ‘own’ the outfit he was wearing. In other words, if he was happy with is choice and was confident in his clothing…everybody else would be too. So the phrase, “own it”, was coined.

Later that day, the entire family decided to go to the Branson Landing to do some more shopping and grab a bite to eat. As we were walking I noticed a man, in a not so flattering outfit. He was a rather portly man, and he was wearing a big, loud plaid shirt, a pair of cargo shorts that stopped well above his knees. He was also sporting a pair of black orthopedic shoes. What really topped it off though was the white, knee high compression stockings he was wearing to help control foot and leg swelling.

When I saw him, I immediately thought, where is Cassady? I felt the need to give her the “don’t stare” look. Do you know what I’m talking about? You teach your kids not to stare, judge or make fun of people and to accept everyone unconditionally, but when it comes right down to it…kids are gonna look and stare! I mean, I knew why he was wearing the tall white socks but I was sure my kids did not! I could feel my neck and face getting hotter by the second… I held my breath as we walked by, I smiled and said, “hello” to him as we passed…..whew! We made it! They passed the test with flying colors! No stares and no snickers.

About five steps after we passed the man, Caleb came up beside me and whispered, with complete seriousness, “he owned his outfit momma!” “yes!” I said, “yes he did!”

I felt a sense of pride at that moment. For all of the moments of frustration we face in parenthood….there is always something to celebrate! As my pastor, Ron Woods said so eloquently in his sermon Sunday morning, we need to celebrate progress, not perfection. We live in a society that celebrates only perfection and we forget about the progress that has been made. Lets face it, kids aren’t perfect (at least mine aren’t) and they’re never going to be perfect, neither are we! As parents we need to celebrate the baby steps, celebrate that our kids are not where they were yesterday and that progress has been made! Thanks Pastor for the reminder!

Remember parents….it’s baby steps…for you AND your child. Celebrate the progress that has been made today and let’s throw perfection out the window!