Thursday, December 2, 2010
Lessons I've Learned Since I've Become a Parent
Something that I've been thinking a lot about lately is the lessons that I've learned since I've become a parent. Sometimes these lessons have spiritual applications that rock my world. No matter how many books you read or how many people give you advice, you're never fully prepared to be a parent until it happens. I remember thinking, even as a teenager, that there was a certain way I would raise my children, and there were certain things that I wouldn't do. And while, some of those things have held true, many haven't. The responsibility of being a parent is so great. You are no longer responsible for just yourself, you're responsible for a whole other human being. This little infant depends on you to make the right choices, to nourish her, clean her, provide for her, answer when she cries, know what to do, etc. It truly is a daunting task.
I remember the day that my parent's left to go home after Abigail was born. They had stayed an entire week with us. I had a C-section with Abigail and getting around was tough. My mom had been a huge help with Abigail, cooking meals, keeping the house clean and organized. I remember just crying after they left thinking about the huge repsonsibility that now rested completely on my shoulders (Ryan's too). I was this child's mother. Wow! At first, I was completely sure that I wouldn't be able to do it. That I would fail miserably. But somehow, I knew just what to do. An instinct that I didn't know I had kicked in and took over. I thank God for that maternal instinct.
Now, I can't say that I've gotten everything right over the last 3 years. I've probably actually gotten more wrong than right but thankfully kids are resilient! :) I've freaked out over little things, taken her the emergency room when it wasn't really an emergency, had to apologize to a small child because I lost my temper or handled a situation badly. I've had to clean up various bodily fluids that weren't my own. I have a very weak stomach. Who would have thought that my first instinct when my child started vomiting in a car was to cup my hands under her mouth to catch the said vomit. And I did it without gagging or vomiting myself. I could go on about becoming a parent and my observations but then I wouldnt' get to the point of my post...lesson's I've learned.
1. I have a better understanding of the sacrifice God the Father made in allowing His Son to become sin and die in my place. I seriously could not imagine allowing my child to die in someone else's place. I cannot fathom it. That God loves me that much, makes me weak in my knees, and produces sorrow in my heart over my own sin and failures that sent Jesus to the cross.
2. When Abigail is getting in trouble she will cry and say, "but mommy, I love you." To which I replied one day, "if you really love me then you'll do what I say and not disobey me!" As soon as the words escaped my lips, I was overcome by the spiritual implications of what I had just uttered. That pretty much sounded like Scripture to me, "If you love Me, you will keep my commandments." - John 14:5. How many times do we resist doing what we know God wants us to do? How many times do we read Scripture as if it doesn't apply to us? If we love God , we will keep His commandments. If Abigail loves me, she will be obedient to me.
3. I also have a better understanding of grace and mercy. As a parent we have to be capable of showing both. Especially as a child learns and grows, there are going to be bumps along the way. There will be times when you want to pour out your wrath but showing mercy is the best thing to do. There are times when maybe your child hasn't lived up to the expectations that you've had for them at that moment but you allow them that piece of chocolate or some other special treatment or privilige. But we must not forget that God cannot be just, if all He ever shows is grace and mercy. God's wrath is very real too. I see too many parent's who allow their children to run the home, who only ever extend grace and mercy and never discipline their children. Without discipline we raise up selfish, rude, disobedient, entitled children who grow into adults with those same traits. There is fine line, we have to know when to extend grace and mercy and when a strong hand of discipline is needed.
4. Children keep you accountable. Abigail is at that stage where she repeats everything. She is very observant of the world around her. And she doesn't forget much. It's hard when you are trying to teach your child something that you aren't very good at yourself. We hold our children to a different standard than we hold ourselves. I cannot stand to hear Abigail say words like, "stupid, hate, shut-up," etc. But I find my vocabulary filled with those very words. And you better believe she calls me out on it. I am saddened to see my child pick up on traits and habits that I have that I dislike about myself. I am not a very patient person. I'm easily agitated. It's something that I constantly have to work on and constantly fail at. I see this in her already. Parent's have more influence over their children than they realize.
I wanted to make my list an even five but my brain is shutting down. Sometimes, I think my brain has become mush since becoming a parent. I think I need to buy a book of those brain teazer puzzles or something! Maybe I should ask Santa for one in my stocking! :) Well friends, there are officially 23 days until Christmas and that means at least 23 more posts from me before the year ends! I've enjoyed reading your comments and have felt greatly encouraged by you all. Feel free to leave your comments or lessons that you've learned from parenting!