Sometimes when you get what you hope and pray for, it’s not just hard, it hurts.
I’m a mama to three — two brothers born before their big sister turned five. Babies, then toddlers, are so active, aren’t they? Endless demands and never enough sleep, a constancy of care and attention. If you see a woman with raccoon eyes and a coffee IV, she’s probably a new mama.
Every day is a learning experience for both child and parent.
Perhaps the greatest surprise of parenting has been how much my children teach me. I presumed this teaching business was a one-way street, where I played the role of teacher, and they, always the students. While our home has certainly been a classroom, often it was me learning the lessons of love and life and forgiveness and sacrifice through them. The hardest lessons were those of self-discovery, where conflict or circumstance revealed my own sin.
Sometimes parenting is knee-bending humbling.
Time plays tricks on mamas. Days stretch forever long but years end impossibly quick. And then one day you wake up to beds already made, an empty laundry basket, two glasses, and two plates in the dishwasher . . . and quiet.
On brutal days of parenting, you’ll wish it would come faster. On days stitched in joy and sunshine, you will time to stop, if only that were possible.
Yes, you will know this empty nest thing is coming a mile away. You’ll steel your heart for the inevitable.
The Day will come softly with no fanfare, the way summer sneaks into fall. In nature and in life, seasons are creation’s evidence that change is good and necessary.
Our youngest son started college last month, our middle son began his junior year . . . and on Tuesday we returned from a cross-country trip to move our firstborn into her new apartment.
Sometimes parenting means letting go all the way.
We must let go of tiny hands so they can walk. We’ve got to release the seat of the bike so they can ride. When it’s time for them to leave home, we can’t attach strings of manipulation or guilt.
We began praying for our children when they were only sparkles of hope in our eyes. When they were old enough, we kneeled right beside their bed or lay side by little side, our nightly prayers a bedtime ritual, a necessary prequel to sleep.
That’s something not often marked in a visible place — the last time you say nighttime prayers with your children. I don’t think you recognize it as such; maybe because it’s more gradual than that. And maybe because you never actually stop praying.
It’s safe to say that most parents pray their children will follow the Lord’s will for their lives, that they will love and serve Jesus for all of their days.
Our world is a broken one and, increasingly, our culture seems to fight Judeo-Christian values. It is no small thing when our children leave home with their faith intact. When they’re on their own, free to experiment and explore, it is reason to downright celebrate when they still choose Christ again and again.
Throughout their lives I’ve prayed for my babies to follow Jesus, but it never occurred to me that might come at a cost.
Keep reading Greater Love over at incourage, won’t you?