Today, I was praying that my children, (all grown) would remember the things we did right as parents, and not just the things we did wrong.
You see, when they come home, inevitably there is a conversation about “how crazy mama was to not let us do this, or to do that, watch this or go there” and how “daddy was always fussing about this or that, or didn’t make it to many of their sporting matches (he had a 12 hour shift job) or teach them how to do such and such,” or whatever. This one got this and that one got that, and the ‘baby’ got away with more stuff. (LOL, no way! 😉 )
We KNOW we weren’t perfect parents. We have 5 children, and they are all so different, had different needs, and activities, problems, and necessary disciplines…. We were stretched to say the least. Financially and time-wise, and energy wise too. I think we did pretty good!
I know these conversations they bring up are mostly for the humor they can bring out of it, to the new additions (spouses) in the family. There is always laughter over the things they talk about, but there are sometimes memories that are brought up that make me cringe a bit on the inside. Things I wish we had a do-over for.
That’s what “I’m sorry!” is for, and we were not neglectful to say it when necessary, to our children, then, and now if needed.
Parenting is not for cowards, as they say. And it is not over just because they are now young adults.
They still come home and want validation, encouragement, advice, or …a sounding board with no advice; and sometimes they even want something you have. “Mom, are you using that crock pot? Can I borrow it?” (I’ve not seen it since!)
All of this is good, and we are adjusting pretty well to the role of parents of 5 grown children. They range in age right now from about-to-turn 23, to my oldest being 29, going on 30 early in the new year. (I am going to freak over that one!) Most have spouses, and there are 7 grandchildren in the mix too. So, life is good, full, and sometimes still very crazy.
We have experienced true empty-nest since late spring of this year when the youngest moved out. He had tried one other time but was not prepared for when roommates bailed on him and he was left alone with all the expenses. This time, he is more prepared. This time, he knows its for good 😉 his father says. But they all say he’s mama’s baby…. Which also brings up many stories and laughter about how he got special treatment as the “baby.” …I just don’t see it. 🙂
They are ALL my favorite! I tell them constantly. And they truly are! But, I also have different favorite things about each one of them. Because I appreciate different things about each of them. And their father appreciates different different things about each of them. Did you get that? Different different! Lol. Its what makes each of them unique, and uniquely unique in mine and my husband’s eyes.
Anyway, back to the original topic…
I want them to remember the Love we had for each of them, in spite of mistakes we made. I want them to remember that we Loved God with all our hearts and minds and souls and strength, and we still do. I want them to remember this house / home being filled with love and laughter, and life, and hospitality and encouragement. Discipline too, but the kind of discipline that guides them into becoming adults of strong character, which was our goal when they were growing up. We tried to always parent towards character. (Honesty and kindness, integrity, and compassion… etc.)
This is what I was praying for this morning… that they would remember this house and home and family as being a strong and loving foundation for their lives. They were, and still are, what I consider my (and my husband’s) most important ministry.
You don’t get instruction books when they are born & growing up, telling you how to “troubleshoot” every conceivable problem. And we had some pretty inconceivable things to deal with as they grew up! Things I never would have guessed we would have encountered looking into those sweet angelic baby faces!
We are also a blended family, not by divorce & remarriage, but by adoption. Two of my 3 daughters were adopted through social services. (Now its called Foster/Adopt, but we never went into foster care. We just told them we wanted to adopt, and went through that process over the course of about a year and a half. Story for another post, but we first physically met them on April 1st, and they came into our home permanently on April 2nd as our adopted forever children. Legal adoption took place about a year later.)
They were sisters, 8 and 10 at the time, and so we had some interesting blending to do for a while. The 3 biological children were 3 to 9 when the girls came into our lives. What a wild ride that was! This major family event, I hope & pray, they will all always remember as an endeavor of love, even when the blending was a little choppy.
When I read the story of the widow who gave her 2 mites, and Jesus telling his disciples that she had given more than all the rest, I don’t think its just about money. I think its also a lesson in sincere effort, and giving your all in Christ, even when its very limited by the world’s standards. If its put in the Master’s hands, He can multiply our efforts and bring an awesome increase! That’s what I am praying for.
I pray that God will take the 2 mites of our sincere effort in parenting, and bring about a momentous return. A miraculous return. An ETERNAL return.
Boy oh boy, I can think about times we blew it. But we never blew it on Love. We always loved each of our children completely. 110 percent. Even when they were acting totally ‘unlovable’… they weren’t unloved. And they knew it. Still do!
When one of our daughters was a prodigal for a while, whenever we encountered her in any way, (ran into her, talked on the phone, email, etc) we would always ask her if she knew we loved her. Even in her anger and dismissal of all that we were, she could never deny that she knew we did. It’s what eventually brought her back to us. She couldn’t get away from our love. (Or God’s for that matter, and she knew that too!)
I guess that will be the success we cling to as parents. Do our children know we did our best, with God’s help, and that we were seeking to follow Him as we parented them. We failed sometimes, but were sincerely apologetic for that. We acknowledged mistakes as soon as we recognized them, and tried to make them right. Ultimately, they knew, and know, that they are loved with everything in us. The only person we love more is God.
I can own the laughter at my expense on those trips down memory lane. I just tell them with a smile, well, that decision made sense at the time. Ultimately, even the memory-sharing tells me that they know they were/are loved. Our family story is far from over, even now. Only time will tell how they remember their childhood as they grow older themselves. They will choose to parent their own way, owning or rejecting some of the ways we raised them. But all in all, I think we taught them the greatest parenting lesson of all… do it in Love, and in Christ.
Yeah… I think I call that success.
Oh, and by the way, if this is not your ‘story’ of parenting, trust me that God redeems the broken pieces of our lives, and can bring healing and restoration to even what we think is unredeemable.
You can read my own childhood testimony here, and see that my childhood story was a broken one that God redeemed and restored over time and through prayer.
My own mother became one of my most beloved & dearest friends but it didn’t start out that way in my childhood. Only God can restore what the locusts have eaten, and bring beauty from ashes. I’ve seen it, and know it to be possible. Never give up on what God can do!
© 2017 LauraJSE All RIGHTS RESERVED