Something’s dawning on me…
Current mood: contemplative
I think I had a mini-revelation.
It came to me a bit ago, as I was folding clothes.
It goes back before “a bit ago,” though. I have been reflecting on my motherhood a LOT this late spring/early summer, as my oldest approached, then had, his 9th birthday. It wouldn’t seem like nine would be a monumental birthday, but from my perspective, it was. It is. Nine is halfway. Many kids leave home at age 18, so that means that once my child hits 9yo, their life in our home is potentially half over. To me, that was a very startling and very sad thought. Startling because it led me to, “Have I done *half* of what I need to do before my son leaves home? Have I taught him half, equipped him with half?” And, sad because I’m not half ready for him to leave home. I so dearly love my kids, and, for the most part, enjoy their company, and I don’t *want* it to be half over. I don’t feel half ready.
So, there I was, folding laundry, thinking about this yet *again*, and it comes to me that my job as a parent isn’t really to get them to a place where they’re “done.” [I don’t know if I can communicate this effectively; it’s only partially formed in my own mind.] I mean… here I am, at 33, still growing, still learning, still regretting stuff I’ve said, still recognizing the folly of my actions, still recognizing pride, still not yet conquering patterns & attitudes & thoughts that need, still, to be conquered. IOW, I’m still not complete. I’m still not done. I’ve still not learned all I need to. I’ve still not applied all I’ve learned to my life.
This makes me think about my own children… I mean, what, exactly, is the goal of parenthood? Up until about 15 minutes ago, I thought my goal was (is?) to ready my child for independent life, outside the home, in all the areas of his/her life: spiritually, academically, emotionally, skill-wise, relationally…. But, now, I’m thinking… it’s more like what we’re doing here at home is providing a foundation for a continuing growth in all those areas I’ve mentioned, and more, I’m sure, that I’ve forgotten right now at nearly-midnight.
There’s no way I can present my child to the world as a finished product. Hopefully, all of my kids will have a high level of maturity and readiness for when they leave our home, but it’s just not going to be “done” at age 18, or whenever. What we do is just the launching board for their adulthood.
There are things I stress about in my kids’ character, especially my oldest. There are things that we repeat to him daily, but it just isn’t sinking in. I want him to *get* it. I want him to grasp what we’re instructing him about, and to be saved from the ravages of … well… the whole thing about reaping what you sow. [Maybe it shouldn’t be so surprising that, at age NINE, he doesn’t have adequate perspective to take that whole concept seriously.]
It’s not like I’m just going to abandon him to the winds of Whatever, and let him learn the hard way; I’m going to continue to teach him, to sow into him, to guide him, to discipline him (and all my other kids, too, but I’m thinking most about E, here, since he’s my oldest). But, I’m having the revelation that it’s OK if he doesn’t get *all* he needs to get in life, by the time he leaves home.
That’s hard, b/c I like things completed. I like to finish the job knowing that it is wrapped up and well done. I don’t like things that are pending. It gnaws at my thoughts. I don’t like things piling up at the back of my brain, half-finished.
But, the revelation is that that’s what parenting is about. At least part of it. I’m not going to be able to perfect my child. That’s going to be a work of the Father, between Him and him.
This whole thing is having the strange effect of being half disturbing to me, and half liberating.