I want a lot for my kids.
I want happy days playing in the sunshine and the chance to for them to learn to ride a bike. I want memories made by the pool on long summer afternoons and the joy of conquering winter’s biggest sledding hill.
More importantly, I want them to develop in all the right ways. Physically, relationally, intellectually, spiritually. I long for their little lives to flourish, growing into their full potential as people, loving God and loving others the way they were made to love.
But raising kids is not another project.
If you want to write a book, you set a goal of two chapters a week, clear some time in your calendar and get after it. If you want to lose 20 pounds, you throw away the chocolate and reacquaint yourself with the elliptical machine. Turning tiny humans into actual full-fledged adult humans is different, because:
- it takes 18+ years, and,
- ultimately they get to decide how much they will develop.
My first few months of motherhood, these thoughts paralyzed me. I considered every tiny decision in light of the huge scope of parenting.
If I wait ten minutes to pick him up when he cries, will he learn to fall asleep on his own; thereby becoming a more independent person, capable of sleeping, and perhaps other tasks, without my help? Or will I teach him that the world doesn’t care about his distress, that he’s actually alone in that tiny crib-cage?
But seriously, I wondered about this stuff with everything from how to do tummy time to what kinds of food I should offer at meals. It was overwhelming.
At some point, I became more confident in my parenting decisions, realizing letting him cry while I took a much needed shower wouldn’t keep him from mental health in young adulthood, and if my dad wanted to give him an ice cream cone, it wouldn’t change his taste for healthy fruits and vegetables.
And as I’ve continued learning how to be a mother, trusting my instincts and consulting with experts (aka: the moms of adult children in my Bible study group), I’ve come to understand that while I’m responsible for shepherding my little ones through the little moments and tough challenges they face each day, I can only do so much. Both because I’m only one person with 16 awake hours every day (give or take, actually no, please don’t take), and because my children are people with hearts, minds and wills of their own.
So what do I do with all my wants? How do I manage my hopes and dreams about the people they’re becoming in light of the day to day demands of work and parenting?
I know. This is not mind-blowing insight. But sometimes the seemingly simple tasks are the ones we need the most and tend to forget.
As I lay my babes to sleep each night, I pray they’d grow to be like Jesus. I’ve been using Luke 5:52 as my guide. It’s a tiny little verse that tells us nearly everything we know about Jesus’ childhood.
And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man.
Oh that my own children would grow in wisdom! That their minds would be sharp, full of God’s truth and their intellects would develop as they better understand the world around them.
And stature! I pray that their sweet little bodies would grow healthy and strong, able to do every good work God has planned for them to do.
And that they would find favor in relationships, most importantly, with their Creator and also with all the people God brings across their path.
It’s not conquering the sledding hill or mastering tummy time, but I think this simple prayer covers all the bases that truly matter. It’s my nightly act of remembering what we’re working toward and trusting God with the outcomes, whatever they may be.
It’s that trust, for me and my kiddos, that I want most of all.
This post originally appeared at Middle Places.