Slugbugs, sugar cups and parent shame

By Laurie Green

It never fails that once someone hears that I’m a mom of two sets of twins (only 18 months apart), they look at me like I’m some sort of superhero. Trust me, I’m not! I jokingly admit that I’m just as surprised as everyone else about how amazing my adult twins managed to be.

Just to be transparent for a moment, parenthood is HARD! That is the one thing that remains consistent! Survival is not for the weak, but seriously, for me it has been the toughest job I’ve ever loved.

Watching my adult children navigate their own parenthood journeys had me thinking about my younger days. Looking back, I often wonder how my own mom ever survived me and all my siblings. There were six of us that she raised the majority of the time on her own. Her best friend was also a mother to six children (misery loves company), and you can only imagine what our childhood hangouts must have looked like.

Mom often reminisces about how the two of them would load up all of us kids in a Volkswagen (slug bug) and head to Sugarloaf Mountain to swim. Just close your eyes and picture what that car ride must have looked like. We were EVERYWHERE … the floorboard, back window, stacked on top of each other, absolutely pure chaos. Safety wasn’t a high priority in those early parenting days of the ’70s. We lacked seatbelts, we drank straight from the water hose, and if you were lucky enough to know how to ride a bike, you could go wherever you liked until sundown.

As a teenager, I guess some laws got a bit more strict, but I still have very fond memories of riding in the back of a truck. In fact, we once took a family vacation from Arkansas to Disney World in Florida and guess where us kids rode? Yep, right there in the back of our parents’ Silverado. My mom was ahead of her time, so she’d pull out all the stops and put a full-size mattress in the bed of the truck so that we could ride comfortably. These really are some of my most favorite memories. The funny thing is we all survived and honestly, we all still love each other! This is a pretty big accomplishment for a family that seemed to be the real-life version of The Griswolds.

Fast forward to my life of parenthood, with twins times two! Twins are proof that God has quite the sense of humor, but I was determined to do what I considered an amazing job. No back-of-the-truck rides for my twins! I would “safely” buckle three babies in the backseat and one in the front with me in their safe little bunko seats! I’m being sarcastic of course, because if you don’t know what I’m talking about, in the ’90s our kids were carried around in glorified car seats. We didn’t have lock-in bases or those handy seat clips, just a lightweight carrier. I shamefully admit that I felt like such a good parent as far as raising kids go. They had a steady diet of McDonald’s Happy Meals, bags of chips, and lots and lots of VCR tapes of cartoons. Just like my mom, I was a little extra, so I took the extra time to record my kids’ favorite shows while cutting out all the commercials. They could sit and watch hours of “Barney” or “The Rugrats” without all those dreaded commercial interruptions. Another mom hack I had was if the kids let me nap on the couch during a “Hey Arnold” non-commercial marathon, I would let them eat a cup of sugar for a little snack. Yep, you read that correctly … A CUP OF SUGAR! It’s amazing the lengths an exhausted parent will go to to get a little extra sleep and I plead guilty!

Henceforth, here we are at that beautiful part of life where my kids have started having kids. I have to be honest; I don’t have a clue how parents today navigate all the expectations they have to endure. I mean with my mom and myself, we get to chalk our parenthood challenges up to learning experiences. Today’s parents have to deal with the social media revolution of parenthood shame. Seriously, whether choosing to breastfeed or formula feed, parents today are constantly bombarded with unrealistic expectations. Children of today’s generation have more access to things that parents and grandparents could only dream about, but at what cost? My mom and I didn’t have to suffer from the lack of better judgment moments we endured. There weren’t cell phones to catch our mistakes, but that isn’t necessarily the case for parents today.

And while I agree today’s generation is blessed with such bougie items as Millie Moon diapers, Miss Rachel and baby food pouches, I think we can all agree that what every parent craves and desires is the blessings of grace.

Maybe that is one of the ill effects of technology. We all have more and more head knowledge, but less grace and heart knowledge. We would rather pull out our cell phones and catch a trending video rather than offer up an encouraging word or a helping hand to a parent in need.

Every time I’m tempted to overstep my grandparenting rights, I remember I survived a slug bug with 12 kids in the back, my kids survived eating cups of sugar and nonstop TV, and there is a really good chance that allowing my kids the same grace I was afforded will allow them to raise some pretty awesome grandkids.

It’s honestly too long to add to this story, but Psalms 139 in The Passion Translation is one of my favorite passages, and it’s to God alone that I will always give the glory regarding my family. He loved me and knew my whole story before I ever loved Him back. His love, mercy and grace are the one constant thread that binds our whole family legacy together. So, parents of today, take heart. Someday your children and grandchildren will laugh at the utter craziness that was involved in being a parent in 2023, and if you’ve done it to the best of your ability, your kids will look at scripture and know that in all our weaknesses, God got the glory!

Another favorite from that translation is 2 Corinthians 12:9: “My grace is always more than enough for you, and my power finds its full expression through your weakness.” So, I will celebrate my weaknesses as a parent and grandparent, for when I’m weak, I sense more deeply the mighty power of Christ living in me.

Laurie Green
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