I've been a mother for almost thirteen years.
Back in the early days, I really thought I'd have a much better idea of what I am doing by now.
There are days when I still feel just as helpless and inadequate as I did at the beginning. Two-year-old whims and moods still bamboozle me, and I continue to move into new territory as the older ones continue to grow!
In many ways, it seems that things just get more complicated as kids grow older; relationships grow more complex, there are more moral dilemmas to talk through - not to the mention the fact that I've already reached the stage where I don't understand all their maths homework!
If there is one thing I think I have learned (but on harder days need to remind myself of) is that parenting is a long term task.
The fact that a two-year-old will throw herself on the floor and scream when she doesn't get her own way doesn't mean she'll do it when she's twenty two. I know this because my son used to exhibit similar behaviour at two and he is now a delightful twelve-year-old who does not (often) throw tantrums! He now has other challenges, which probably won't be the same when he is sixteen.
What I'm trying to remind myself at each new stage, is that they haven't arrived yet, They aren't already adults. And they'll never be perfect.
Growing up into an adult includes learning all sorts of lessons, many of which they will continue to learn throughout adulthood. My role, along with my husband, is to help them navigate this journey; I shouldn't be getting disappointed with them when they don't already know how to do this.
One of the most helpful bits of advice I have ever received as a mum is that a mother's job isn't to wave a wand to make her kids instantly sinless (or to expect them to be sinless in the first place!), but to help equip and train them to fight a long, hard battle against their sin, and set their feet on a long, slow journey of growth in godliness.
My part is to lovingly discipline, listen to and enjoy my kids; the fact that they are not perfect yet should not be a reason for me to panic or despair. The job I'm called to (like the Christian life itself) is a long term thing.