"Choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD.” Joshua 24:15

Monday, November 28, 2011

Hindsight really is 20/20

My babies are growing up so very fast. Right before my eyes.  I say this in disbelief, not sorrow or disappointment.  I love, love, love what I have today—three ‘almost-adults,’ one taller than me, one with larger feet (I didn’t think that was possible), all three with colored hair.  Three people who read the same books and magazines I do, have learned not to be afraid of others’ opinions of them, who sometimes tell off-color jokes that make me laugh until I cry and I finally whisper for them not to ever repeat it, exude noises from parts of their body that I would deem inappropriate, who need hair and shower gel and privacy, who want to keep their bedroom doors closed even more than I do, who, miraculously, use the restroom, brush their teeth, wear coats and hats, tie their shoes and eat their food all by themselves.  Who love the Lord, who pray when they feel led, who adore each other, who are awesome friends and siblings.  Three who excel in academics and in personality, who have just the right amount of independence and passion to keep them moving forward.

Most everything I’ve read about raising those precious little rascals is finished for me.  Dr. Dobson, T. Berry Brazelton, Vicki Courtney, Gary Chapman, and Susie Shellenberger are virtually obsolete from my library. Those ones on parenting, sibling rivalry, etiquette, homeschooling, single parenting. Along with the Adventures in Odyssey cassettes, Veggie Tales VHS tapes, Little House and YWAM books, and Little House, American Girls, Nancy Drew, Hardy Boys,  Mr. Moon, Barney the Dinosaur, Curious George and Dr. Suess; they are battered and well used. What memories they behold.  The Mothers of Preschoolers playgroup, McDonalds play time, neighborhood walks, playground dates, art museum co-ops—what they taught me was that I really could do all this, but only with prayer and sacrifice.

The bottom line is that parenting is one job that I could never have prepared myself for.  It’s on-the-job training at its finest. Sure, I can listen to and read other’s advice, but nothing can prepare me for those three precious lives that were loaned to me from Above. One sang her own first birthday song while the other didn’t really speak until she was 18 months.  One was potty trained at 2, the other at 3.  One was a quiet, content, a happy-to-be-alive, sort of child, while her sibling came out smoking a cigar and whining. One made me think that parenting was a breeze, and then another came along and totally nixed that theory.  One responded well to positive reinforcement, another to time outs, and the third….well, he just didn’t like any of it.  One would cry when I looked at her sternly, while the other would stomp his foot and hold his ground. One cried non-stop until she was 23 months, while the other two rarely cried.  I’ve also learned that, yes, there is such a thing as three opposites!  I know, I have them.  But they are just opposite enough to be loving, compassionate and three of the best people on the planet.

Last year, my firstborn went to college; this year my second born went to college, and in three years, my lastborn will begin college. They can all walk and talk just fine, too. They can, and, quite often, do, remind me to “make wise choices,” when I go out on a date, say, “leave room for Jesus,” when I am cuddling with my boyfriend, to put my dirty dishes in the dishwasher, to pray before eating, to pursue life and to have fun while doing so.  They have all (and still do) humble me.  Believe me, I have made many mistakes, as my children are quick to point out. (ha ha).  My mistakes are permanently cemented in the  ‘Remember-When-Mom-Did That? Hall of Fame.’ The times the baby fell off the bed or chair, the times they ate something that was too hot, the times when I was too exhausted to homeschool, the time I was searching everywhere for my glasses, and they were perched on my nose. The many times I was searching for my keys just for them to be in the desk where they belong. The time I ran out of gas in the high school parking lot, the many times I didn’t allow them to watch R rated movies when all of their friends were allowed, the many times I required their friends’ parents’ signature before jumping on our trampoline, the times I believed an adult before them.

But, by far, the biggest mistake I made was in not living in the moment nearly enough.  It is crystal clear now that those moments are gone, captured only in videotapes and scrapbooks. There is a picture of the three of them, perched upon the rocks at Maumee Bay, right on Lake Erie, sun in their eyes, smiles on their faces, wind in their hair.  But, I can barely remember that day.  I wish I could remember if we had the dog with us, what each person said, what had brought us there.  I see the picture of my two daughters covered head-to-toe in mud.  I wish I could remember the joy on their faces when I let them play in that mud, when I didn’t scold them or rush them to clean themselves up.  I don’t.  I can only hope and pray they do.  The picture of my son sitting under the kitchen table….ah, the memories. 

I really wish I had not been so rushed to move onto the next thing; school, dinner, bath, book, bedtime routine. I wish I had treasured the ‘doing’ a little more and the ‘getting it done’ a little less.

The cleaning and scrubbing can wait till tomorrow
But children grow up as I’ve learned to my sorrow.
So quiet down cobwebs; Dust go to sleep!
I’m rocking my baby and babies don’t keep.

Life seemed so much simplier then. When they were young and small, we spent our days playing and learning, visiting the zoo and metroparks, homeschooling and chilling by the campfire.  I suppose I thought that someday they would become who they were because something, albeit many things, that I had done.   I figured I had dedicated them the Lord, I loved the Lord, they appeared to love the Lord, and because of this, they would become just as God had intended for them to become.  I know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that’s why they are the remarkable human beings that they are—not really because of anything that I have said or done, but because of everything My Father has done through me.  I used to think they would turn out great because of me, but now I realize that it may be in spite of me.

My children are not old, by any stretch of anyone’s imagination, they just aren’t dependent upon me as much. Wow! I never thought I would live to see that day.  Just kidding. As a family, we all have a long way to go….more dating, college graduations, weddings, babies, and the list goes on.  I cannot wait to see what’s in store for my ‘no so’ littles as they continue to live out their destinies in Christ.

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