Who’s Leading Who?
I took a walk with my four-year-old son the other day. We do that a lot. He was telling me about his friend at preschool who was crying for his mommy. I asked him if he told his friend it would be okay. He said he did and that he was glad his friend stopped crying. He continued to tell me about his day, how we played with blocks and a garbage truck.
I treasure the time that we have together because I know that it’s going to come to an end sooner than I would like. Not immediately, of course, but he’s growing up and I know the time will go fast. It’s funny how with my first child I was so excited to go into all the new phases, but, now on my fourth and probably last, I’m sad for everything to go so quickly.
Being a parent is an interesting thing. You know you are supposed to teach and help mold your child into a responsible adult. We find ourselves leading our children along, trying to do the best we can. However, every now and then, you take a step back and realize that maybe you’re not doing as much of the teaching as you thought you were.
Faults and Weaknesses
Children have a way of bringing out the best and worst in their parents. I know mine do. As it turns out, I don’t have as much patience as I once thought I had. All it takes is two of my four children coming into the kitchen while I’m making dinner at different times to ask me what we’re having and then complaining about it, for me to ban everyone from the kitchen, even the well-meaning helpers. Then, of course, I find chores for everyone to do while I finish cooking.
It also turns out that I was quite the parent judger before I had children of my own. I was sure my children would never talk back, fight with one another in public, and would taste all the food on their plate. It makes me smile now. I didn’t know what I didn’t know and that’s okay. We are all learning.
Perhaps that’s one of the reasons we are meant to be parents, to show us some of our weaknesses that may otherwise remain hidden. Seeing myself through my 12-year-old daughter’s eyes gives me a good look at where I fall short. Some of those weaknesses aren’t as major as she thinks they are, but some are areas where I definitely need to improve.
I am grateful for the opportunity that I have to change and grow as a parent.
Intents of the Heart
Another lesson I continually learn from my children is to try to see the intents of the heart. Most of the time, they have good intentions for the things that they do. I’m not talking about the times they’re fighting with their little brother or sister over a Lego, but the times they spill milk all over the floor because they were trying to help their little brother get his cereal in the morning.
Or like the time my younger daughter was late getting ready for school because she packed her big sister’s lunch for her, and when I found two baskets full of laundry wadded up in little balls all over my bed because my four-year-old folded clothes for me.
It’s easy to get mad at the results if we ignore the intentions. I found this to not only be true with children but adults as well. Many times the heart is in the right place if we take the time to see it. Rash decisions, impatience, and ignorance can sometimes lead us to make harsh judgments.
Leading and Guiding
As I was taking that walk with my son, I looked down at our hands. His small fingers were enveloped in mine with complete trust. Sometimes he trips on a stick or rock but I catch him before he falls. Once in a while, he’ll fall hard enough that I can’t stop him from losing a grip on my hand, which results in scratches, bruises, and occasionally blood.
But I pick him up, brush him off, and wipe away any tears.
As an adult, there have been times I would’ve given anything to have my mom still nearby so I could hold her hand to keep me from stumbling. There are other times, I would’ve liked to have her there whispering in my ear to keep me from making the mistakes that caused me stumble in the first place.
I believe that we don’t have to walk alone. I believe there is always Someone there waiting to take our hand if we’re willing to reach out – a hand that will catch you when us when we fall, a hand that will lift us when we stumble so hard badly that we think we can never get up on our own.
It takes trust and faith. Just like my little guy reaching up to hold my hand, we have to reach our hand out for help when we need it. It’s there if were willing to take it.
Parenthood is a Funny Thing
I’ve said it before and I’m sure I’ll say it again but, parenthood is a funny thing. Of course, it’s for us to raise and teach children but it seems to me that an even bigger part of it is to make us better people.
My experience as a parent has made me more compassionate, patient, and willing to serve others. Watching my children gives me the opportunity to see the world through their eyes, but with an adult’s understanding.
I am grateful for my children, simply for being the wonderful people that they are. I am also grateful for the opportunity being their parent gives me to grow, change, and improve.
Hopefully, one day they will forgive me for my mistakes and realize that I was stumbling along with them, doing the best I could, and learning to be a better person.