The longer I’ve parented the more grace I’ve learned to have. I wish so much I could have had it back when my kids were wee and I just needed them to listen so badly because I was tired. I wish I could have had more of it when their friends came over that I didn’t really care that much for. I wish I could have had more when they made big mistakes.
But it’s hard to parent in front of a watching world.
I’m ashamed to admit the times when my tykes were little and I parented more for the other parents watching, than for their good. Maybe when what they needed was not to be scolded but a hug. Maybe when they really didn’t need to share that toy but I made them anyway, so that others would see how kind they were and, in turn, what a good Mom I must have been.
It’s taken years and I’m far from knowing any ultimate truths on the matter but I do know this. I don’t want to parent for the rest of the world, for the watchful eyes, or the nosey neighbours. I’m not interested in parenting for the social media masses or for that woman in the grocery store who always has something to say.
I want to parent for my children, for their ultimate well-being, their good and their growth. I want to parent before Christ and teach them His ways and be a conduit of His love and show them unending mercy when they fail.
Because Lord knows I fail.
It doesn’t get easier when they’re big. Sure, I don’t have to tell them not to hit or bite anymore. Those days are long over. But the stakes? Well, they feel so much higher. And the eyes? Well, they seem to bore holes all the more.
I’m making up my mind now. The way I’ve always taught my boys to do. I’m creating a plan of reaction for the really big stakes.
Because how will I be able to show them grace when they crash the car if I don’t have a plan? And how am I going to journey with them through the depths when I find alcohol on their breath or condoms in their pockets? What about when they speak words I promise they never learned from me and I’m embarrassed that some other parent out there heard it. What happens when I find things in their search engines I really wish I hadn’t and what about when the mall security calls telling me that they didn’t pay for what was in their bag? Or when they fail a class? Or when they’re the bully? Or the jerk? Or the heartbreaker? Or what about when they have doubts and walk away from the faith we’ve taught them so diligently?
How can I show love and have grace and journey alongside them if I don’t figure it out now. If I don’t commit to not worrying about what whispering lips have to say and care only about the safety and love of my children.
Mama’s of littles, raise those babies up the way you’re convicted to raise them and don’t think two-seconds about what everyone else in the restaurants stares seem to say.
Mama’s of in-betweens, love those awkward, gangly messes who put together strange outfits and speak in a dialect that you don’t understand and be proud of who they are becoming.
Mama’s of teens, hug them hard even if they think they’re too big and show them that you’re with them, in all of it, no matter what the mess. Show them that you love them and that this is your journey too and you won’t ever leave their side, come what may.
Our kids of all ages need us to be their safe harbour. They need us to look them in the eye and tell them we love them. They need us to care less about the concerns of the world and more about them. They need us to put the phone down, turn netflix off, step aside from our work, leave the cleaning, the book, the shopping or the sleep we think we need.
They’re going to make decisions we don’t want them to make. They may even mess up beyond repair. And all the while, their watchful eyes will be wondering if we’ll be there for them through it all. Make sure they know that we will.
Let’s be ambassadors of Christ’s love. Let’s never give up on them like He’s never given up on us. Let’s be patient the way He’s patient and love the way He loves.
“…with a never ending, never giving up, unstopping, always and forever love.” -Sally Lloyd-Jones from The Jesus Storybook Bible.
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