“It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are.” — ee cummings
I regularly have moments when I look around me and feel like there must be some mistake. I couldn’t possible have given birth to this many kids. And where did these adult problems come from? But yes, there are many (children and problems), and the dance to stay one step ahead isn’t always easy. In fact, it often overwhelms me.
This raising kid thing is exponentially harder and more amazing (often all at the same moment) than I ever imagined it would be, and as they get older and I realize the enormity of bringing another person into the world (which didn’t end at the moment they exited my body), I find myself gasping for breath, unsure how I’m ever going to see it through. It’s usually during that moment of sheer panic that God gently reassures me that it was no mistake that these children are in our home and that in between the crazy is plenty of amazing stuff.
As William’s tenth birthday approached, I wanted to do something that we’d never done before with him. Also? I figured Peter and I deserved something more than a slice of cake for actually making it to the first decade mark.
So Peter and I took Will for a weekend on his own, to do whatever he wanted to do. We had the greatest time. After a night in a hotel, we drove to The Adventure Park in West Bloomfield, Michigan and played around on the ropes course. I will have you know that I did most of it with the boys, but I sat out the third course so I could take pictures. If you really want proof that I did it, you’ll have to check Peter’s phone for the video of me screaming through the zip line. It was a blast and I was so glad that I didn’t just sit on the sidelines.
There’s something about the camera lens that captures more than what I could see with just my eyes. That day, standing at the bottom watching William maneuver in and out of the ropes, I was struck with the significance of our activity and the life we’re striving to build with him and with the girls.
You know, someday when Peter and I die and our kids look at our will, we won’t have an enormous inheritance to give them. But what I pray we pass on is a lasting legacy. I love to do things for my kids that make them happy, but I don’t want that to drive the way that we live as a family. And I’m guilty of forgetting that what I leave in them is much more important than what I do for them or what I give to them. Slowly I’m realizing that when happiness in my kids is my ultimate goal, I’m selling them far short of what God has designed them for.
One of the principles I’ve learned in parenting the last ten years is to “Imagine the End”. When I feel stuck on a decision, I play it out in my head. Where do I want my kids to end up? Who do I want them to become? If I believe (and I do) that God is writing the story of my life, I have to believe that He is also writing a narrative in my kids. And I want them to shape their lives according to His plan for them. This is the kind of legacy I want to leave.
What does that mean for us as parents? It means that we let them do the hard things. And we push and we encourage, but ultimately we trust that, just as we learn the most from the hardest times, so will they.
It means that when I so badly want a reprieve, I rejoice that God gives us strength to do what we had no idea we could do.
It means that I watch my kids in awe, amazed that God is working so quietly, so significantly in them that I am left breathless with wonder.
“When it comes to my children, the most difficult thing I have ever done is to admit my limited capacity and trust God to show up and do what only He can do. Some days I just need to be reminded that my family is a part of a bigger picture and that God desires to demonstrate His redemptive power through us.” (From Parenting Beyond Your Capacity by Reggie Joiner and Carey Nieuwhof)
Thanks to this blog post for this idea of a birthday adventure! I can’t wait to see what Kate chooses in just a few years.