Today my first born baby girl is 15 (more on that later), and it naturally got me thinking about the day she was born and all the days since then. And I read some tweets from my dear cyber-friend Karen about some mischief her 3 year-old triplets were getting into, and naturally that got me thinking again about my own babies growing up. I'm certainly no expert and my girls are far from perfect, but God put a few things on my heart today for Karen, and probably for me, too, so here it is.
First, what I know to be true is that God doesn't make mistakes. Given that, the children He blesses us with are the children He intended to entrust to us, for better or worse. Not a single one of us will be a perfect parent and not a single one of us will have all the answers all the time. Each child the Lord creates is a unique person that will present us with a unique set of challenges to help us grow into the parent He needs us to be for that child. I suspect He also uses these challenges to help us plant the proper seeds and grow our children to be a delight in His eyes. We can sow, plant, water, weed, and fertilize our gardens of blessing, but sometimes - just like a real garden - we have an occasional wilter or some bugs that sneak in when we're not looking. Would you plow under the whole garden? Of course not! We put on our gloves and do what we have learned through experience works to revive it. And if we don't have that experience yet, well, we're about to get it!
When my girls were toddlers, I was fascinated at the way they went about learning. They explored so many things in so many different ways, the mind of an innocent trying to take in so much. That leads me to the next thing I know to be true: toddlers are natural disasters waiting to happen! No matter how many times I told my kids "no, danger" they just had to find out the hard way. No matter how many things I hid from them, they just had to figure out a way to find them. No matter how many times I scolded them for getting out of bed in the middle of the night, they just had to get up to be sure they weren't missing something important or fun. This is how our children learn! We cannot possible teach them everything ourselves, they need to get out there and learn to learn on their own. Of course, we need to keep them safe and set boundaries, but don't kid yourself and think that just because you say "no" that's the end of it! No is a fantasy word that tricks us into thinking we've resolved the situation, when in fact, we're probably just enticing the child to find out why not. Sounds like learning to me....
I've faced some very severe challenges with my oldest in the past two years, and quite honestly, felt like I had totally failed her and wasn't going to be able to save her from herself. We have weathered smoking cigarettes and marijuana, sneaking out in the middle of the night, running away, drinking, habitual truancy, and constant lying. AND SHE JUST TURNED 15 TODAY!
I have a wonderful church family that I love very much, but there are a few who judge me harshly and don't approve of my parenting. You know what? That's okay. I seek the Lord for guidance and don't need the approval of other moms. Now, I don't mean that in a nasty or haughty way, what I mean is they have a different situation with a different set of challenges and cannot possible know what the Lord intends for us. For whatever reason He chose to bless me with what I have, yes, I said bless! Sami and I are working through her missteps and she is taking many lessons into her heart. And I have had the opportunity to take steps to show her how much I love her and I will never give up on her - no matter how much trouble she causes or gets into, no matter how many times I have to pick her up at the police station, no matter how much money I have to pay in court fees. She is a BLESSING FROM GOD and I embrace her with all my heart and soul.
I understand Sami has to deal with some special situations that other kids don't have - I have incurable cancer and her dad has abandoned her, she struggles to find her place and an outlet for her interests. She is highly intelligent and has little patience, she wants to excel but only in things she's interested in, not necessarily what might be required (hence the issue with truancy earlier this year).
Take a step back and really look at your kids and see the individuals and the special talents they have. We each have a purpose and something different to contribute, but we cannot reach our potential if we are treated exactly the same. My girls are exactly 18 months apart but so very different, and I treat them differently as a result. I don't feel like I'm ever playing favorites, only playing to their strengths and weaknesses, their individual needs and desires. If anyone ever tells you that you are not a worthy parent, remind them that God knows you are. He has never given up on you through all of your missteps, don't give up on Him and His wisdom in blessing you with your beautiful babies.
And finally, prepare yourself - the learning ain't done yet LOL Those babies have little brains that are just waiting to be filled up and want to see, touch, and smell everything in their path, and a few things that aren't. If the worst of your worries right now is cleaning up a trashed bathroom and wiping nail polish off 6 arms, well my friend, cherish those moments because they'll be gone before you know it. Wrap all those arms around you and thank God for choosing you to share in their delight of discovery. xoxo