As mothers, we raise children, set them free and watch them soar. Of course, this is the best-case scenario. When we are young and just beginning our families, we have no idea what that family will look like in twenty or thirty years down the road. When I married, I was almost twenty-three years old. I had my first child just prior to my twenty-fifth birthday; I knew I was taking on a huge responsibility. I was very cognizant of the fact that my children were the defining point of my life from this point on.
Defining point? I would be forever judged by the behavior of my children from this time forward. As a devout Christian, I know that the only thing that I can take to heaven is my children as well as any godly influence I may exert on others that shows that Jesus is the Way the Truth and the Light. All other works are subject to the cleansing fire and will reveal, for the most part, wood hay and stubble.
As a young mother, I was very careful to teach my children manners, and to model by example Godly character. I struggled with the large questions of life and I wrestled with the insignificant questions as well. Because I so wanted to hear “Well done, good and faithful servant,” I was a very in touch mom. I wish I could say that everything I did was correct, but no parent can say that. We do the best we can with what we have and what we know, and hope to God that it is enough. Parenting does not come with an instruction booklet, and children are not cookie cutter replicas of their parents. Children are not machines that we can program to do this, and stay away from that. They are humans with their own personalities, their own senses of right and wrong, and they reflect what is the best and what is the worst in us. There are too many variables to get it right every time. However, we do what we do and hope it is enough.
Fast-forward thirty years. My life, as your life, has had some ups and downs. Things have played out according to my life script, and circumstances have invaded my life and torn that script to shreds. I have recovered my lost sanity, only to lose it again. I have yelled at the mountain and felt the whirlwind of chaos. Through it all, I have watched over my children. They have been and continue to be a major focus of my attention.
Today, I am an empty nester. My brood is out making their way in the world, tackling education, developing careers, and producing offspring of their own. We parents remain in the background most of the time; however, there are days when the text message pings, when the skype screen awakes from hibernation, and the grands run into our arms. Those days are the days we treasure. Those days are the days that let us know that through all the unplanned twists and turns of life, we did accomplish our goal of raising children who still make a difference in our world. Difference? No, they define us as individuals. Their unsolicited attention reminds us that though we may have failed, that though we may not have read the tea leaves just right, we made enough of an effort, enough of an impact that they return to us with a short note of love or a fly-by cup of coffee. Yes, these things done by our children, still define us.
Until next time……