I was raised by extremely loving parents. (By the way swHw ladies, my mother worked full-time my entire life.) I realized at a fairly young age what a gift that was. When Kent and I became parents, we looked a lot to the advice of our parents. I’m so thankful they shared their wisdom only when we asked, never when it was unsolicited. (You know what I mean!)
When our daughter, Kennedi, was getting ready to head off to kindergarten, I was talking with my Dad and dramatically complaining about how big she was and how fast time was flying. I was a working mom, so I carried bitterness with me that was a byproduct of the guilt I felt because I got up and went to work everyday instead of baking muffins and playing with play-dough. I felt I was justified in my pity party. After all, she was a baby in my arms just yesterday and now, I was packing a lunch and letting go of her hand outside of a classroom. It was okay for me to cry.
After my Dad saw my sad face, he looked at me (and my Mom who was also struggling a bit) and nonchalantly said, “Well, I’m excited! Do you understand what the alternative is to a child growing up, Somer? You need to be thankful!”
In the moment, I was pretty annoyed with him. I mean, what did it hurt to let me whine a little?!
He was so right though. I was ruining the moment I was in because of bitterness from moments that were long gone.
As parents, we so often live wishing for the past and never fully enjoy the present. As a student pastor’s wife of 18 years, I see it everyday. The inability to be okay with time flying and to let go, as God has called us to do as parents, has us making some pretty significant parenting mistakes. In our desire to hold on tight and make sure every single moment of their childhood is micromanaged by us, we are raising lazy, dependent, entitled kiddos who think the world should revolve around them, instead of grasping that the world revolves around God.
So in light of all of that, here are three things I’ve learned in the last 16 years that I pray will encourage my momma friends in the thick of raising children right now:
- If God has called you to be a working mom, you better do it well, with the right attitude, and with your eyes wide open. (And if your situation requires you to work, then it’s a calling. God is not surprised by your situation.) He has something for you in the place that He has you. Don’t miss it because you stubbornly believe your plan is better.
- It is 100% okay for your child to be the most important thing in your life, next to God and your husband. But priority and worship are two different things! We make our child a priority; we DO NOT worship our child. If you allow your world to revolve around them, guess what? That means when they leave your home, IF they leave your home, they will expect the rest of us to feel that way… and that’s going to make their adjustment to the real world even harder.
- God’s plan is SO, SO, SO good! Watching our children grow up is exciting, and like my Dad said, an absolute blessing. And spoiler alert: you will get to hangout with your kid in heaven too if they know Jesus as their Savior, so white-knuckling this earthly time we get, instead of enjoying it, is unnecessary. Look at eternity, friends!
I’m in the midst of some BIG firsts and lasts right now…
- Last night, my 8th grader had her last middle school orchestra concert.
- This weekend, we will go shopping for her first formal dress.
- Last week, I drove my unlicensed 16 year old to school for the last time.
- The next day, I watched her pull out of my driveway as she drove herself to school for the first time.
And I’m okay! I’m excited! God is so good that He has allowed me the opportunity to raise these girls of His. And with that responsibility, I get a front row seat to see what amazing things He will do in and through them.
So let’s remember: The eternity God has planned brings crazy joy no earthly “last” can ever take away. Our story doesn’t end here, so let’s make sure we live, and parent, accordingly.