As the nurse handed me my newborn daughter, I couldn’t wait to get my precious little bundle home and start life as a new parent. I’d seen the magazine ads. You know, the ones with the new mother in her white flowing gown, holding her sleeping baby as she gazed peacefully out the window? I was looking forward to days filled with moments like that. The hospital nurse warned me that was a myth. Boy, was she right! I was not prepared for the screaming, colic infant, sleepless nights, painful nursing sessions, raging hormones and postpartum depression. I felt like Cruella had taken over my body, and I would never recover. I also felt like a horrible parent. How could this tiny, helpless, eight-pound person so easily drive me to the verge of insanity and tears?
Something I never understood was the fact that you need a license to drive a car, get married, or start a business, but you don’t need one to become a parent. One can go through all kinds of childbirth classes, but they don’t offer many “How to Survive the First Year of Parenthood” classes. They just hand the helpless human over and send you home. I thought much of parenting would be instinctive, and some of it is, but a lot of if is uncharted territory. Especially if you didn’t have it modeled well for you by your parents. (Which, fortunately, for the most part I did, but my mom had passed away years earlier so I couldn’t call her for advice or help.)
My husband and I are two flawed people raising two flawed people. The odds of a good outcome are slim. We’ve made lots of mistakes, and we’ve bumbled our way through at times, giving our girls lots of fodder for future therapy sessions. Dr. Dobson wisely reminded me that my goal as a parent was not for my three-year-old child to like me or be my friend. I had to step up to the plate and be in charge. There would be time to be friends when they were grown. I also became aware of the fact that my children were not a “do over” of my life or for me to feel redeemed through their preferred opportunities or abilities. They are unique masterpieces, with a God-given purpose and plan that is very different than mine.
There is no perfect parent outside of our Heavenly Father. Fortunately, HE has modeled parenting for us well and can give us what we need to do the same with our children. God made these precious ones, loves them even more than we do and knows what’s best for them. It didn’t take long to recognize that the best position to parent from was on my knees. I’ve never prayed so hard or so much as a parent.
“Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old, he will not depart from it.” Proverbs 23:6
Fast forward almost 25 years, and we are now seeing the fruit of many years of prayer and following God’s guidance, wisdom, and help in raising our two girls. It’s been a perilous journey at times, but the mountaintop experiences far outweigh the valleys. My heart’s desire has always been to introduce them to Jesus, model a faith walk with Him, and for them to fall in love with Him in their own way and time. They are in the middle of that adventure now. Making their faith their own. Discovering the joy and peace of an intimate relationship with Him. I love it when I hear one of them say they prayed about a situation, and they are trusting the Lord to open and close the right doors for them. My heart soars when I see them operating out of their God-given gifting and passion and being affirmed in it. And It gives me no greater joy than to see they know and believe how precious they are in God’s sight, and I see His beauty reflected through them.
Parenting is the most challenging yet rewarding responsibility one can ever have. I’ve loved watching my girl’s transformation from infant to child to young adult. As they have matured, I have too. I’m not the same woman I was that day I brought my firstborn home. As God grows our children, He also grows us, their parents. And now that my girls are out of the nest pursuing their dreams, we are friends. And I am grateful.
For His Glory,
Family photo by Rick Busch