I'm sure all moms experience this. The memories of their childhood rush in. The cute, the irresistible, the happy, the good, the bad, the ugly.
Since my three children will be in their 20's as of next week, I sort of feel like I'm on the other side so I want to talk to the young moms today. (Older women, I'll get to you at the end.) You don't need me to tell you that the days go quickly or to appreciate them while they're little. I know this is not particularly helpful and can make you feel guilty. Not today.
Instead maybe you need someone to address the issue of how to survive the hard days. Maybe you're worried about what kind of adult your strong willed child will turn out to be. Maybe you're afraid everything you try will backfire. Maybe you wonder if you're ruining your child. Maybe you cry yourself to sleep some nights because it feels like you're failing.
I've wondered all those things. I worried about each one. I've cried those tears.
There were days my husband came home to, "I don't know which one of us is going to survive this." In defeat, I lamented, "When she leaves our house she will surely say, 'I could never please that woman.'"
And after some tumultuous teenage years, I feared she wouldn't be able to get out of here fast enough and wondered (and doubted if I'm honest) if when she became an adult we would be good friends.
What do you do when you're tired of the fight? When nothing seems to work. When you're sick of giving the same lecture(s). When you wonder if anything will stick. When you've prayed all the prayers you can think of.
You phone a friend. You get very real and throw pride out the window. You confess. You cry if you need to. You ask advice. You receive support and prayers.
I know I am one of the lucky ones. We raised our kids in a large church where I had many friends. Some were peers, in the same stage of life. Some were a little further down the road, having raised their kids. All were an integral part of my survival. And Ally's too, I suppose.
I can't stress enough how much I needed someone to say:
"Keep going. It will sink in. Don't give up. You can do this."
When one who understands your family dynamic and has freedom to speak truth, defending the child says, "It's not easy living with the Brothers Wonderful."
Not to mention the friends who were especially hopeful:
"Don't worry. She'll be a leader one day." (This, of course, is the nice way of referring to bossy. Don't ask me how I know or who she takes after.)
"She's a good kid. A really good kid and will be an amazing adult."
You see, sometimes when you're in the war you simply don't see it.
Until one day you do.
That picture. Her words under it. Blows my mind.
At some point, one friend challenged me to give thanks in advance. Before I see the end product. Faith prayers that went (and continue) something like this:
"Father, I know you are writing the story of my child's life. You love her more than I do. You have a plan for her life. Your Word says you will finish the work you started (in her).* So even though I can't see it, I thank you now that you will do a beautiful work in her one day. Amen."
I now believe them to be pivotal and powerful.
Tuesday she will be 20 and she's amazing.
Or should I say God has done something amazing and beautiful in a young woman's life.
So many prayers spoken, begged at times. Now answered. Glorious!
The difficult, arguing, not always fun to be with child has been transformed. She's sweet, thoughtful, caring, funny and a delight to be with. Most importantly, her heart is soft. She apologizes, seeks reconciliation quickly, and is teachable. She constantly asks her parents for advice (praise hands).
She remembers her church-infused childhood with both fondness and some regret.
She has the best self-depracating sense of humor of anyone you've met.
She loves God and His Word and wants His plan for her life.
She senses a call to ministry, willing for it to be anything God decides.
She's leaving the details and timing in His hands.
She hopes for an upright, Christian husband to assist in ministry and share the gift of children and responsibility of raising the next generation up in the faith.
Scott and I marvel. God is and was in control the whole time. Changed lives are His specialty. He's always been doing something good even though we couldn't see it at all times. My friends say, "I'm not surprised. I knew it would happen. Of course she's awesome."
Which is why I implore you to cozy up next to older parents. The ones who see your kids' potentials when you're buried in the messy today. Those who will hold your hand, dry your tears, pray you through, affirm your efforts, and send you back in the battle, reminded, better equipped and fortified.
Here I'd like to name names, but I think you know who you are. Thank you. Thank you so much. Check out the fruit - I believe a good portion will be credited to you.
Lastly, to those of you who are ahead in the race. Look behind you and when you find an exasperated parent, approach with kindness and understanding, then walk with them. If I believe anything about God's will appropriated to individuals, I believe He has made His purpose clear for women.
Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled. Titus 2
He knows we are all connected and what we need. I just love Him so much for including these words in the Bible.
P.S. He's not only doing a work in your childrens' lives that will one day be revealed, but He is doing it in yours too. He changed this mother. She's not so naggy, suspicious and easily irritated. Oh, but she can still deliver an on-the-spot lecture like a champ!
So chin up and put your trust and hope in Him.
If no one has told you lately - let me - you have a special kid who has many gifts to offer the world and that kid has a great mom.
*Phil. 1:6 "And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ."