You need to know, right off the bat, that I am not someone who thinks that “Dogs are people, too.” I realize that I’ve probably offended half of you in saying that, but I can’t help that. The way I see it, dogs are dogs.
That being said, there are some definite similarities between humans and dogs. And ever since Minneapolis Bennett joined our family a few weeks ago, I’ve been having more than a few New Mom Feels. I don’t know which is harder, raising a baby or raising a puppy.
So far, I think it’s a tie.
Babies can’t feed themselves, right? Well neither could Minnie, at first. Thank goodness for four inches of Bartlett’s Familiar Quotations. “Every dog,” as Shakespeare reminds us (page 137), “will have its day.”
And the potty training thing? Getting to our yard requires a descent of five steps, and Minnie wasn’t having it. When I marveled at her reluctance, Robbie put things in perspective: “Asking her to go down those steps is like asking you to jump off a five-story building.”
Honestly though? The thing that made me feel most like a new mom happened just this past week, when I decided that Minnie should learn how to walk.
As in, on a leash.
As in, with me.
I did what any good parent might do. I asked Google.
I’ll spare you the details, other than to say that whichever dog-brain wrote that Step One in the teaching process is to “drop your end of the leash on the ground” needs to maybe be a little more clear on Step Two.
And all I could think, as I stood there staring at my dog-child while she stared back at me–chewing away at the tether and clearly not eager to stay anywhere close to my feet–was that God knew exactly how I felt.
God knows how all parents feel–especially when communication breaks down with our kids, or when they choose to walk down a path that we know is not good. I love how candid God is in Hosea 11, as he reveals his own parenting struggles:
“When Israel was a child,” God says, “I loved him, and out of Egypt I called my son. But the more they were called, the more they went away from me.”
(Can anybody relate?)
And then God goes on, talking about how he taught his children to walk: “I led them with cords of human kindness, with ties of love.”
Here again, I’ll spare you the details, (you can read em here if you want), but the nutshell version is that it did not go well. Israel wanted no part of God’s parenting. They pushed all of his buttons, in the worst kind of ways.
(I’ll ask it again: Can anybody relate?)
And yet God, even in his frustration, found his wrath trumped by compassion. He couldn’t help himself. He roared–not in anger, but with the fiercest of love–and called his wayward ones home.
Which brings me, in a roundabout sort of way, to Mother’s Day.
If you find yourself raising a child who wants to go their own way–whether it’s a toddler whose potty training is not going much better than Minnie’s, a teen whose ears seem deaf to your voice, or an adult who has walked away from their faith (and maybe your family in the process), know this:
We’ve all been there.
“We all,” the Bible says, “have gone astray–each of us to his own way.” And the second part of that verse tells us that God–out of love–put our sin squarely on Jesus. Compassion trumped wrath, once again.
So here’s the good Mother’s Day news, for moms (and dads) in the parenting trenches: Just like God could not help but pursue Israel, so he cannot help but go after our kids. And our children, as I’ve said over and over again in this space, are never out of God’s reach.
Hang in there, Sweet Momma. You are loved. And so are your kids.
With the fiercest, and sweetest, of loves.
Oh, and one more thing. Or maybe three.
First, summer is here, and the blog’s hitting vacation mode. I’ll still write, but maybe not every week. (I figure we can all use the break.) 😉
Second, if you haven’t gotten Mom a card yet, there’s still time. What you write doesn’t have to be fancy or long; feel free to borrow from this stellar example, created by my friend Elizabeth’s six-year-old son:
And finally, you all know how much I appreciate Eugene Peterson, and when I was re-reading Hosea 11, I decided to check it out in The Message. And I laughed out loud.
Because this is me, yesterday, giving up on Minnie’s walking lessons:
And this is Eugene, rendering Israel’s response to God’s love:
And this is Minnie, letting us know just how she feels about the whole “I’m with you” thing:
Happy Mother’s Day!