How do parents find contentment?
As parents, we all know that we need to savor each moment. Those older and wiser remind us that the time passes so quickly. So, we squirm with guilt as we try to rush some of the days with our kids along. “I can’t wait until she can . . .” “Things will be so much easier when he can . . .”
I don’t think that guilt is the answer, though. What is? Read our articles this month and gain some perspective from two Christians blessed with godly wisdom on this topic.
Dear Future Self,
I’m curious, do you remember the winter of 2019?
We had more snow on the ground than I had ever seen in my life. And with the snow came lots and lots of ice and cold and wind. So much ice. So much cold. So many days off of school. Six in three weeks, to be exact. And let me tell you, it wasn’t all sunshine and playdough. Allow me to refresh your memory:
The days were long and the hours of sunlight short. There were times when you were sure if you heard the word “Mom” one more time you’d go sprinting from the house, even if doing so meant running barefoot through the snow. The bickering between the kids led you to question your attempts at instilling kindness and patience in your offspring. You calculated the combined total hours of screen time each day, wondering if it was a healthy amount and rationalized that just maybe, given the circumstances, a little extra might be okay.
Do you remember the day your youngest got the “Happy Birthday Song” stuck in his head and couldn’t stop humming it no matter how hard he tried (or how many times his siblings asked, er . . . told, him to stop)?
Do you recall enlisting the help of little fingers to tear three layers of old wallpaper from the upstairs hallway, simply because you literally needed a change of scenery?
Do you remember the day you returned from a long family weekend up north, desperate for a break from the constant questions and needs to fulfill, only to find that school was canceled the following day?
Do you remember how you tried so hard to be everything to each of them, to entertain and make the day fun and out of the ordinary and then found yourself practically in tears over your afternoon coffee feeling like a complete failure as a mother?
Oh yeah. Those were the days. Or were they?
So you may be wondering why I feel the need to write these things down for you now. Why remind my future self of the frustrations, the housebound days when everyone’s tempers were short and you were desperate for a hot, uninterrupted shower and kids who loved to read quietly in their rooms for hours on end?
Because I know you. And I know that you have read countless blogs and articles about loving the little years, savoring each moment with your children while they are young and resisting the temptation to wish away this season of motherhood. And, even though you may not remember it now, you thought about that a lot when they were young. You feared that your heart might never recover from having to let these children go and grow up. You wondered how you’d ever watch one of them walk down the aisle without standing up and shouting, “No! I’m not ready.”
And as I think about you (future me) now, a mom with grown kids, I wonder what you’ll remember. I hope it’s all of the good and very little of the bad. I hope it’s the sloppy kisses from your sons and the suffocating hugs from your daughters. I hope it’s the wonder in their eyes when they see just how much snow fell overnight and the ear-to-ear grins as they get their sledding path just right out in the backyard. I pray that you look back on these years I’m living now and smile.
But this is what else that I hope: I hope that you are thankful for your current season too. I hope that you remember enough of the challenges to appreciate how far you’ve come, how far they’ve come, and how much you’ve all grown. And just how perfectly your heavenly Father equipped you for this insurmountable, incredible calling of motherhood; walked beside you on the good days; and carried you on the trying ones. I hope that, even though you may miss aspects of the chaos that surrounds me now, you also appreciate the quiet in your house and the still-yet-hot cup of coffee in your hands.
Yes, those were good days. But they weren’t perfect.
Those are still yet to come.
“He has made everything beautiful in its time” (Ecclesiastes 3:11).
Melissa Anne Kreuser
Did you hear?
So much for doing away with helicopter parenting. Apparently, hyper-involved parenting works. They’re saying it leads to higher test scores.
I took my daughter to our first daddy-daughter dance recently. Before I did, I remember the comments when I told people it was coming. “How special!” “Once in a lifetime opportunity!” “You never get these moments back!” It felt like a lot of pressure for a dad rolling in from a long, long week.
And Christian parenting even ups the ante. We don’t just want our kids to grow up and be successful (whatever that means). We want them to serve people with their lives. We don’t just want to love and connect deeply to our kids along the way. We want them to believe in the grace of our Lord Jesus. That’s A LOT!
What do I do with that? Punch back with my daddy manifesto. What does that look like?
I will remember: She’s not mine. She hasn’t been ever since Christ claimed her in her baptism. Therefore, I no longer shoulder final responsibility for her. What I will do is be her dad. I will teach her, cuddle her, discipline her, protect her, love her. I will work on her sight words with her. (I’ll obviously have to update this list as life progresses.) I will take her to gymnastics. I will teach her how to work through her emotions, what it looks like for a man to love a woman (her mom), and to understand the commandments. I will work to crystallize in her an identity as God’s child. I will be her dad. I will refuse, however, to be more than that.
I will not take up a God-sized burden I’ve never been asked to carry. I will not expect myself to be there for her everywhere. I will not expect myself to protect her always. That’s too big for me! I will content myself to be her father—not her Father!—which is all my circumscribed, located, finite self can do. I will empower that contentment by remembering who her Father is. He is her Creator and Redeemer who will shape her far better than I can; love her more than I ever will; and protect her everywhere and at all times with so much grace and power that, finally, he will resurrect her.
I actually think that last part is incredibly life-giving even now. I refuse to believe that my moments with my daughter are here today and gone tomorrow. I’m not going to let the heavy tonnage of that thought rest on me. I have every confidence that through Jesus my moments with her will never end. Try thinking about that the next time you’re watching your daughter doing “the floss” at the daddy/daughter dance. It’s an interesting juxtaposition. There I was, this dad weirdly proud that his daughter knows how to do stuff like that and simultaneously divinely happy thinking, My Father has made me a true father to that princess—well—forever. I’d call it a once-in-a- lifetime moment, but I don’t think I should. I have moments like that too often.
Author: Multiple Authors
Volume 106, Number 4
Issue: April 2019