I’m a Mom. My children are all grown now, except for the baby, but he’s half way to 18, so I am working on letting him go too. I am also finally a grandma! We are even expecting a little boy this month. (I’m just too excited to function sometimes!)
I was praying for my kids this morning, and was overwhelmed by the love I have for them. I was also overwhelmed with gratitude for the honor it has been, and still is, to be their Mom. I was also reflecting on how blessed I have been to have raised my children, and all of the memories that come with that…. So, I thought I’d share.
Raising kids has been the most challenging, rewarding, heart breaking, joyous, painful, growing process of my life. Just when you think you got it, a new level opens and it’s brand new.
Babies were tuff, but OH so amazing!! Even the long nights, when I thought I was going to pass out (and I did a few times) I just couldn’t get enough of watching them grow. Those “firsts” will always be remembered. I learned pretty quickly to not rush those things. Everything comes in time.
Toddlers were exhausting, but a constant source of smiles, giggles and exhaustion. Even when they were stubborn, it was fabulous watching them grow and figure out what they were capable of. I didn’t have any trouble with my weight when they were in this stage! I think my favorite memories from this time was when they would be so defiant, but then just want to cuddle, and learning new words and trying to express themselves.
Elementary age was more of the same, just on a higher level. I never tired of answering questions and explaining all that peaked their interests. Children are little sponges! That’s a saying for a reason… I homeschooled off and on over the years, and being such a big part of that growth truly inspired me. A child’s mind is a blank slate, where the things they see and hear will be forever written. I always took that very seriously.
Middle School – OK. This is the only time period I really didn’t like. Maybe because I have 3 boys, but even for my girl, this period seems to be the most challenging. Kids in this space are really trying to figure themselves out – and where they fit. They are usually pretty gross too…. At least, mine were. (are – hahaha) If anyone has ever considered home schooling, this is the age. It’s the time where you can have the greatest impact – instead of their peers. They are still yours! They still need you, now more than ever! I think many parents start to pull away during this period, when it’s really the time to pull in. It’s definitely the time to be the keeper of your word – to have clear boundaries and to know what hills you are willing to die on. Prepare for this, and don’t give up – that’s my advice. I’m just glad we all survived.
High Schoolers…. Well. Honestly, I loved this too. It was probably harder on me than them, as I know parenting is a runway into adulthood… you are near the end of that runway and preparing them is at the highest level. I wanted to do so much more for each of them, when I knew I shouldn’t. I remember my daughter could only have 4 saves a year – that is, 4 times I would run whatever it was she forgot to wherever she was…. After the 4th time, whatever the consequences were to forgetting, she would have to suffer. It killed me!! I think there were a couple of years she got 5 or 6… Now, as a college graduate, she is much better at remembering… but I’ve come to think forgetfulness is in the DNA somewhere…
Consequences. That’s the hardest part of this whole parenting thing – and it becomes even bigger when they are in college and on their own. I think most parents want to protect their kids from unsavory consequences, but in doing so we stunt their growth.
Responsibility is learned, not assimilated. Kids have to see it and experience it in order to do it.
Now, as I “parent” adults, it’s a constant exercise in self-control. Not telling them what to do. Not trying to help – unless asked. It’s not checking on them everyday or expecting them to include me in everything. Agh. It’s about faith, and trusting God, and even just trusting them. It’s easier though, when you have seen it coming and have traveled the “run-way” with your kids. Praying is the biggest influence we have, and it is what can keep you focused on what matters.
I did my best to teach my kids dependence on the Lord instead of me. I won’t always be here, but He will be. I will mess up, (and OH have I ever) but He won’t ever leave them or forsake them. He created them. Not me. He sustains them. Not me. He has a plan for their lives and it’s way better than anything I could have come up with.
It’s so cool to see my kids living their lives now. I still remember those “firsts” like they were yesterday, but seeing them launched into the life God has for them, is just A-MAZing.
My top 10 things to remember in parenting? (I wrote a while ago on the Top 10 Ways to Parent a Teenager)
Set clear boundaries – don’t be wishy-washy
Be proactive not reactive!
Remember it’s a run-way. There’s a process to a launch!
Consequences and trials grow us/them more than anything. Really.
God loves them more than you do.
Responsibility is taught…
Always, always put your spouse first (after God)… it makes the nest a much happier place when it is finally empty. (getting a dog helps too..)
Pray. Pray. Pray.
Pray with them from birth – all the way through. Never stop praying for them and with them when you can. Pray for their challenges, their victories and most importantly, their hearts – pray for their future spouses too! It teaches them that God is in everything – and he hears and answers. That’s the best lesson we can teach them.
I am so far from a perfect parent – I learned the most through the trials though, and for that I am grateful. Really.
What was your favorite time?