Oops, you have a little schmutz on your shoulder. There. Probably just spit up, it’s okay. Do I have some too? Oh. That’s not spit up, that’s a mixture of cookie crumbs and snot. Now we’re good, sorry about that.
You’ve read the lists of all the stuff you’re supposed to BeSureToDo. You’ve heard all the no-nos.
You’re watched other moms, maybe your own mom, maybe your peers, and you’ve promised yourself you would never do it like that. Ever.
Sometimes all your ideals fly out the window because it’s two a.m. and your baby will not settle, and you’ve already been out of bed six times, trying to shush her before she wakes her brother, but now it’s too late because he’s fussing too. And his bed is wet. So now you have wet sheets and a crying baby, who will be screaming by the time you get the bed changed.
Sometimes all your ideals fly out the window because that teenager is pushing on you again. You don’t know how she can hit all the right things to say that just get your goat, but she does. And then you trip over the books she left stacked on the stairway in the dark, or the laundry hamper she didn’t get to. Didn’t you teach her anything?!
Sometimes all your ideals fly out the window because your kid is the terror of the town. He knocks over the other kids’ block towers or he just got a DUI or he fathered an illegitimate child or he won’t pick up his room or he won’t get potty trained no matter what you try.
You had no idea this would be so. hard.
You will think about what motherhood looked like from a distance: how you imagined it. The wonder, the snuggles, the sweet smells, the bonding. How you’d always be gentle and understanding and THERE. How you’d be loved and appreciated. How you’d bake cookies and they’d smile. How they’d all turn out well and bring the grandchildren home on holidays and everybody would be happy.
Honey, I just want to tell you something right now.
How this family turns out doesn’t all depend on you.
Mothers are a crucial way that God shapes the lives of children, but there will always be therapists later in life.
(Please tell me that struck you funny; if not, would you get off the internet and pick up the phone to call a friend? Please? Because you need her urgently.)
There are daddies. There are grandpas and grandmas. There is time, and there is hope. There are godly school teachers. There are good men and women who take troubled teens under their wings. There is a community of other believers around you. And if all else fails, if your child is left destitute of all support and godly help, there is the Son of God.
He bled so that sins can be forgiven; so that no matter what challenges your child faces, there will be grace and help and hope. He lives so that there will always be a Friend, an Intercessor, an Advocate. He holds the universe, he holds your child, and it doesn’t all depend on you.
You can’t guarantee anything. You can’t save your child; he’s going to have to turn toward Jesus himself.
But you also can’t mess things up so badly that Jesus panics. Trust him. Breathe. Don’t forget to enjoy yourself, and to be proud of your kiddos, as often as you possibly can. I need friends to tell me this from time to time, and that is why I’m telling you:
It’s going to be okay.
PS. Thanks again for all your kind words and stories. Special welcome to the first-time commenters.
PS2. And in case this was not absolutely clear throughout this series, I REALLY LOVE MY SON. <3