Thursday, June 30, 2016

In Spite Of Me

I have a confession to make. When I became a mother, I had no credentials.

It gets worse. 

My husband and I raised our two children by gut instinct. There was no village. There was just me on the days my firefighter husband was on a twenty-four hour shift. And the rest of the time—there were just the two of us.

And . . .

wait for it. . .

we didn’t know what we were doing. Close your mouth.

I wonder sometimes why God gives babies to barely grown adults. Completely uneducated, with no significant prior experience, we’re supposed to train them up in the way they should go. We barely knew where we were going. How were we supposed to know where our kids should go?

We’d both had examples, of course. Not perfect, but examples. So we turned to them for advice.

“You’re entitled to your own mistakes,” I was told. Which didn’t exactly sound like advice to me. It sounded more like a life sentence with no hope of parole. What had they learned about raising kids?

I felt like I was being warned. Like I was put on notice that I was definitely going to screw up somehow, which was either a reflection on me or on the frustrating responsibility of parenting. Or both.
So I set about to do it right. Do it perfectly. Fix all the mistakes in the next generation that had been made with ours.

It wasn’t easy. 

It wasn’t possible.

I was determined to do it anyway.

Mold my breed. Train their minds. Give them my values and watch them live a perfect life.

Like mine.

There was a problem, though. I wasn’t perfect.

Like a temperamental cake in the oven, I was in process myself the entire time I was in the process of raising my children. I’m not even the same person today that I was thirty years ago. Today, if I had the energy of my twenty-seven-year-old self and was given another child to raise, there are a lot of things I’d do differently. Then when those twenty years of second chance parenting were finished and this time I was sure I’d done it perfectly and trained my children to be as near perfect as I could make them . . .

They’d still live life on their terms, not mine.

I don’t want my kids to be my clones. This temperamental cake isn’t done yet.

I want them to live life in the same freedom God gave me. Free to be themselves in a complicated world, able to respond to life’s challenges with their own varied points of view, and completely assured we’re on their side.

Thank God it was never up to me to decide who my children should be or how they should live. It’s always been up to the One Who loves them perfectly and never shoulds on them.

Look at that. I think I just grew up a little.

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