I Killed It - Thoughts on Parenting in the Jungle

I killed it.

Plain and simple. My fingerprints are on the murder weapon. It wasn’t premeditated, and the sad thing is, my husband warned me it would happen, and I did it anyway.

I’ve been a kept woman. The first time I ever touched a lawn mower was nine months ago after my husband hurt his back. For 28 years he’s faithfully pushed that cantankerous mower around our half-acre of sod. He made it look easy, too. He sweated a little, but I figured that was more for show—so I’d feel sorry for him and deliver a steady supply of Popsicles and Gatorade.

This spring, rotator cuff surgery again had him coaching from the sidelines. Several days of heavy rain had our yard looking lush and tropical. Too tropical. I think I spotted a boa constrictor stalking our dog, Winston, through the thick grass. When all I could see was the white tip of his tail bouncing through the yard, I knew it was time to tackle it.

I’m not strong enough to crank the mower, so Hubby got me started and pointed me in the right direction.

Forty-five minutes later, he came out to check my progress. “Why are you pushing so hard?” he asked. “This is a self-propelled mower.” He fiddled with a few gadgets and exclaimed, “Ahhh! Somehow the lever that raises and lowers the blade is set on the lowest setting. No wonder you are pushing so hard.” 

He explained that because our beautiful carpet grass is so thick, it requires the highest setting on the mower. “Even though the grass is really long,” he said, “you can’t try to cut it all at once. The engine will choke, you’ll wear yourself out, and you’ll kill the grass.”

Sound advice, but too late.

You see, I already knew about the lever and had deliberately set it as low as it would go. I wanted to mow the grass in one fell swoop and be done with it. 

Guess what happened? I choked the engine. I wore myself out. And I killed the lushest, thickest, most beautiful patches of grass. All because I wasn’t patient.

I’m afraid we often employ the same approach to parenting.

Sometimes we turn a blind eye to an issue with our children—anger, disobedience, lying—until we can’t ignore it any longer. Then we try to fix it in one dramatic attempt. We yell, scream, and hand out unrealistic and extreme punishments. We threaten to send them to public school or to homeschool them. We revoke every privilege they’ve ever had until they’re 30-years-old.

I wish I’d only had to admonish my daughters once to speak kindly to each other. I wish they’d learned honesty and dependability in kindergarten when we first discussed it. I wish I’d only had to tell them in passing that punctuality and neatness go a long way toward making them employable.  

Instead, it’s taken years of consistent, daily encouragement, and accountability to help them develop the character qualities of mature and responsible adults. And they still have much to learn.

In hindsight, I realize that in my desire to be conscientious, I sometimes pushed too hard. Out of fear or frustration, I cut too deep. Or I choked them with too many demands. By doing so, I’ve sometimes damaged the very relationships I was trying to nurture.

I’m thankful we don’t have to be perfect parents, but we do have to be praying ones. “There are only two ways to avoid guilt as a parent,” says Stormie Omartian, author of The Power of Praying for Our Adult Children. “The first is to die soon after your child is born. The second is to walk with God every day and ask Him for wisdom about everything.” Walking with God certainly seems the better of the two options.

May God bless you as you parent your children with persistence, patience, and faith. I'd love to hear your thoughts. Leave a comment below and join the conversation. If you're reading by email, CLICK HERE to comment.

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  1. Hi Lori! Oh my gosh, I am a 'kept woman' too...the lawn mower actually scares me. My dad told me to get away from it when I was a little girl, because it could spit out rocks and hurt me. But enough of my traumas!

    You really learned a lot from that experience didn't you? God really inspires in even the smallest of things. (I loved the picture of the scalped lawn!) But you could have just gotten mad and frustrated, but you listened. That is just awesome!

    Thanks for sharing!

    Peace in Christ,

  2. Hi Ceil,

    I remember similar warnings from my dad -- even had a friend who had her leg badly cut by running over a coat hanger with a mower. Maybe all that's subliminal! One thing's for sure, I have plenty of time to ponder beyond the grass as I'm making my ever shrinking circles around the yard :) Thanks for stopping by!

  3. I'm past needing patience in the parenting area, but hits so many more! God always speaks to me in the "every day" times. Patience has popped up more times than I want to admit!

  4. I love your story about killing your grass! and your application to parenting causes me to blush! Been there, done that!

  5. Thanks so much for sharing this. You have touched my heart today right where I needed it!
    May you be magnificently blessed today!
    Tina @ Mommynificent

  6. Thank you Lori for sharing this over at WholeHearted Home this past week. An excellent post!! great analogy!!

  7. Great analogy - and I've been aching to get that book! I am so doing it as soon as I can.