on parenting honey badgers

I’m a natural with babies. One of those earth mama types with babes slung close to my heart, I rarely met an early parenting problem that couldn’t be fixed or at least ameliorated by proximity to my breasts. Put a boob on it! It was like having a superpower.

But even as a kid, I was good with babies. I had a booming babysitting business watching the neighbors’ infants and toddlers for three bucks an hour. The 90s were different, man. Back then, no one thought twice about leaving tiny children in the charge of an eleven year old Girl Scout with a child care badge.

Connecting with teens comes pretty easily to me, too. I’ve got over a decade of youth ministry under my belt and know more ice breakers and group facilitation tricks than a lifetime of team-building retreats could exhaust. Nerdy, popular, troubled, loud–I enjoy all sorts of teenagers, even the stinkiest, silliest middle schoolers.

Babies are my jam. Awkward adolescents are my cup of tea. But little kids are tough. Little kids are honey badgers. I have two whom I love fiercely, and parenting them is the hardest thing I’ve done in my life.

Remember My So-Called Life? “I cannot bring myself to eat a well-balanced meal in front of my mother. It just means too much to her.”

Grungy, melancholic Angela Chase captured my fifteen year old heart, and she’s still among my most beloved fictional characters. But these days, I feel a peculiar affinity for her mom Patty, because Kyrie eleison, being on the other end of that fork might just be the death of me. My fiercely independent children never met a hill they weren’t willing to die on, and our dinner table is their perennially favorite last stand. At just four and six, their sighing, eye-rolling, and angst-y tears could give Emmy-winning Claire Danes a run for her money.

If they aren’t battling each other, it seems like they’re double-teaming me. Some days feel acutely like a losing battle I never signed on for. Aren’t we supposed to be on the same side?


They came by their stubbornness honestly. Truth be told, their mama can be something of a honey badger herself. Parenting is nothing if not a mirror into our own flaws and inadequacies.

But slowly, we’re learning–the whole Team Paul. To control our emotions and manage our tempers. To listen with our ears and move our feet. Speaking kind words or holding our tongues, we’re helping with our hands (or keeping them to ourselves). We’re turning and walking another way into repentance, forgiveness, new mercies, and resurrection.

Learning to love with our whole selves, we honor God with all that we are. Honey badger ferocity included.
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