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.