The 80:20 Rule

August 7, 2013

Today my heart stopped for just a moment. We were on the ferry boat, gliding across the bay from Madeline Island to Bayfield with the motor humming in the background and seagulls swooping past, when my oldest child turned her small face toward mine suddenly and said, “Mom, you’re my best friend."

My sweet, rascally 3 1/2-year-old
Aww, we all said. That’s so sweet.

And coming just a few days after a meltdown of epic proportions in which she told me she wanted the babysitter instead of me, it was also welcome. A reminder that love covers a multitude of sins.

I think as a parent, it’s easy to forget that. On those days when I’m constantly chasing her down and telling her no, giving her time-outs or the occasional dreaded spanking, the moments of laughter together and quiet snuggling with her get lost in the shuffle, overshadowed by the hard parts of parenting. 

My beautiful Elise is like the wind: constant, moving, and ever-changing, tempestuous one moment and yet gentle the next. My child has an iron will and a soft heart. And she is precious to me, even on her bad days, even on my worst.

Recently, a small group from church has been gathering on Friday evenings at our house to talk about “Love & Respect,” a small-group DVD series based on Dr. Emerson Eggerich’s book by the same name. In our last lesson, the speaker talked about how the 80:20 rule applies to aspects of our lives, including marriage. How, despite the "fairy tale" we are sold by Hollywood movies and romance novels, we should expect there to be times of conflict: 80 percent of the time things will run pretty smoothly, while 20 percent of the time, they won’t. It’s true for business; it’s true for employee productivity; it’s true for a project’s success.

And it’s true for parenting. It’s a good reminder, because in all the uncertainty that comes from parenting a child, I know that I don’t want the 20 percent to drown out the 80 percent. While my daughter will get mad at me and not always consider me her best friend, she is a gift that I will always cherish, forgive, and love.

“Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.” 1 Peter 4:8

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