Pregnant and desperate for new friends in my new town, I eagerly embraced the friendly stranger who walked toward me. Linda also looked like she was packing a watermelon beneath her tent-made-to-look-like-a-dress. She was so friendly, so sweet to me, I wondered if she was real.
The problem was so were her children. “Yes ma’am” the standard response to every request, my mind wondered, “How does she get them to do that?” My own children were…well, just like me. Loud, rambunctious, speaking whatever they thought. Very independent, yet creative, my mini-me’s looked nothing like her’s.
Every time I came away from our joint swimming lessons, thoughts I had never had before began to assault my mind. “Why can’t my kids be like that?” “Quiet, polite, how can I get my kids to be like her’s?” “Mine must be rowdy because I am a bad mom.”
I found myself dreading being around this family I really adored. The comparisons I made and the measurements I took each time we were together ate at me. Because my kids weren’t like her kids it must have meant I was a “less-than-mom”.
I am so glad God opened my eyes in these early years of my kids’ lives. He taught me my kids were not construction paper that I could cut out to be what I wanted them to be. They were people. Humans He was forming and each day. They were becoming their own person. Yes, it was my responsibility to pour God’s truth into them, teach them His ways. But what they did with this truth, especially as they reached their teen years, would be between them and God.
Over and over and over again, as my children have made very good and very poor decisions, I have had to speak to my heart, “They are God’s children. You cannot not take credit for the good they do, nor do you take the blame for the bad.”
During an especially trying time during these teen years, a dear friend gave me a painting. She had made it years ago. Needing to downsize, she was working to weed out only her favorite artwork. Pointing to a picture, crafted exactly in the colors of my home, she pointed to the picture of a child’s face, asking if I would like to take it home. Walking up to the painting, I read the words, tears streaming down my face. Words of God’s love softened my worn and broken heart. “This is not the end of the story” were the last words stroked on the canvas. There in the attic, God whispered to my spirit, “This, this turmoil you are living in. This is not the end of the story. I am still writing the story. Trust me.”
And that is where I find my peace each day. Not in knowing I did my best, although I did. My peace comes as I trust God. He is writing the rest of the story and He is more than a best-selling author.
Through the years, God did a work in me. Taught me to see the unique sides of my own children. No, they weren’t like any one else’s. Yes, they were a bit excitable, but they were also fun, adventurous and creative. I began to embrace who they were and who they were becoming.
Today, I’m still tempted to be that mom. The one who reads the Christmas cards or Facebook posts of the adult children doing this or going there and wishing I could say the same. Cards and posts generally don’t share the heartache side of parenting. Moms don’t share the tears they cry in the middle of the night as their hearts break over unwise choices made.
Moms , we’ll always be moms. Want the best for our children; always want them to live out the wisdom from God we have poured into them. But we must see that it’s not up to us to create perfect children. Take a look at the perfect parent, God himself. Even He has trouble with his kids! There is no book on “How to Raise the Perfect Child” because we cannot. Our place is to pour in His love and His truth and then pray for our Father to do His work in their hearts.
The winner from Wednesday’s Wisdom Tip post: My Secret to the Good Life is Sarah who posted on January 14 at 1:33 p.m. Congratulations Sarah! I’ll send you an email to get your full name and address.
Angela Hayes says
Again…I neeed this post today. I am constantly comparing other moms’ children to my own. And when their child has superb manners, is right on key, and is the model child, I look down upon myself. Before I had children of my own, I was along the line of:children are a reflection of their parents. You have awful, misbehaved kids, it’s all due to your parenting skills or lack of. I quickly learned this isn’t the case.
Thank you for pointing out that we as parents need to fill them with His love and guidance, then let the rest of the guilt as how they turn out go. If we do our part to preach His word into their hearts and lead by His example, there’s not much more we can do…besides love the heck out of them!
A simple yet total agreement AMEN is all I need to say to this!!!
Kathleen Guire says
I agree. God has given each of us the grace and the gifts we need to raise the children that we have. Each of our children have distinct callings and gifts. We should not compare our parenting, but rejoice in the children we have. And the time we have with them. Blessings! Shared this post on my blog today!
I really enjoy reading your posts. I agree that we as women and as mothers measure ourselves and unfortunately at times our children against others. I love how you mentioned that God loves us and isn’t to blame for our bad choices and we too shouldn’t blame ourselves when our children make poor choices. You are right. They are God’s children. It is our job to lead them to Christ and his job to transform their hearts. I, like you, have blamed myself many times in the past for choices and decisions that my children have made, and although at times it may be from the way I have modeled choices and actions, at other times it is just because we are all broken (kids included) and we have a bend towards sin. Praise God that we have a loving Savior that doesn’t leave us in our brokenness but wants to restore our hearts through his transforming love and death on the cross. I am encouraged to continue to point them to His word, talk to, pray for, love, and offer grace and encouragement to my children. Thank you again for all you do to encourage women and mothers. This really blessed my day!
Michelle Jordan says
Thank you for this post. I now have a 15 year old daughter and never knew parenting could be so hard and hurt so much. I keep claiming God’s promise to train up a child in the way they should go and when they are old they will not depart from it… I often take on her poor decisions as my own and beat myself up over where I went wrong. I know she is a beautiful, strong willed ;), child of God and I have to trust that all of her decisions and consequences are shaping her into the woman He would have her to be. Thank you for sharing!! God Bless!!
I am thankful that God is not finished writing our stories! I value that God has used your writing to open my eyes today. May God continue to richly bless you!
Hilary Simmons says
Thank you for your beautiful words of encouragement. God led me to your blog because this is exactly what I have been struggling with lately. I trust that my God has a beautiful plan for my rowdy 3 kids. He reminds me of this when I see the random acts of kindness that they show to complete strangers from time to time. Satan would rather have me focus on only the “flaws” (as the devil calls them), but I must remind myself that all things area made perfect through Christ.
Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. I needed this today. My children are older and I still catch myself comparing. My youngest is a 14 year old girl who is trying to make her way in this very crazy world we live in. And tries to be popular and liked. I try to remember that she and my other children are their very own people. Thank you for the reminder that its ok to be different. God made us individuals. I will just continue to pray that they make good decisions.
Rebecca Meadows says
I’m in! I want to develop the beauty of self- control.
Heather Seaman says
I’m in! I want my girls (and me too) to look to God for reassurance of beauty, not the world.
Lynn Cowell says
Yes we do, Heather!
Tamy Weaver says
I’m in.. I would really like to develop more self control, joy, and love in my life.