Growing up as a babysitter, working as a camp counselor, being a Sunday school teacher, and a 3rd grade school teacher, I’ve always been fascinated by child development and excited about the incredible window of opportunity that childhood offers!
Kids have always been important to me. But now that I know two little boys who call me “Mommy”, I have a new capacity for love AND a greater amount of pressure to nurture these kids than ever before!
To see the brightest grin and wiggly arms and legs when I walk into the room,
To hear the “I wuv you”’s and unexpected tackles,
To receive slobbery, toothless bites on my chin and gentle forehead nuzzels,
To be the chosen audience for any little thing, “Mommy, watch this!”, “Mommy, look at this!”
All these things and infinite more just make my pores ooze with gratefulness to be somebody’s “Mommy”!
But let’s be real. Although I’ve worked with kids for a long time, they’ve never brought me to the level of exhaustion, frustration, and disgust over bodily fluids that I’ve experienced in the last few years of being a “Mommy”. Just as I felt an incredible responsibility as a babysitter and teacher to make the most of every opportunity, I carry that much more sense of urgency in the lives of my own children!
Childhood is a time that can seem to take forever on an especially rough day, yet weeks and months can fly by in the blink of an eye.
Childhood is a time when little people collect experiences and create habits that will most likely shape who they are as adults.
It’s a time when their world views are being formed and hearts are being fashioned.
Being “Mommy” means stepping into the most influential role in the childhood of these two special people!
It’s a role that I feel unworthy to take on.
It’s a burden that can become unbearable, especially when one is screaming and the other is whining.
I don’t know how I’m supposed to lead these little men into developing admirable character when there’s poop in the Buzz Lightyear underwear and vomit in my hair! It’s exciting and pleasant to talk about raising children who love others, act peacefully, and stand strong for the values that we believe in. Yet it’s truly the nitty-gritty work to live it out each day, being aware of the learning opportunities, and modeling love and peace in the moments of each day.
Thankfully, it’s not up to me to develop my children into who they are called to be. That’s the Lord’s job! And I can only trust Him and obey Him in the ways that He’s called me to nurture these boys!
I’m learning that teaching my children is actually requiring more self-discipline from myself than I ever expected!
Because the real work is invisible.
It would be easier to find ways to make them do kind actions, but the real work is in guiding their hearts into kindness.
It would be easier to manipulate them to say the “right things”, but the real work would be raising kids who know the Truth deep in their hearts.
It would be easier to bribe them to obey, especially when people are watching, but the real work is in teaching the value of obedience.
I don’t really care if my children say the “right things” and do the “right things” if their hearts are not pure.
Nice manners and kind actions mean nothing to me if their hearts are filled with anger and resentment.
Proverbs 4:23 says, “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.”
I know that the nurturing of their hearts is far more important than manners, learning numbers or abc’s, or even potty training.
As I value the hearts of my children, I hope that they will know that they are loved, cherished, and heard.
As I value the hearts of my children, I hope that they will develop love and compassion.
As I value the hearts of my children, I hope that I will take greater care to nurture my own heart, too.
Like a camera zooming in to focus on the most important piece of a picture, I need to let my perspective focus in on their hearts, seeing them more and more clearly. And less important things- like signing them up for lots of “activities”, waiting for the next developmental milestone, or even just cleaning the house- would fade out of focus.
Because as I value their hearts more than what they can do, I can have more patience, and I’ll be more capable of showing them God’s unconditional love. As I value their hearts, maybe I can realize a little more each day, that God also values my heart, more than what I can do!
These children, the Lord has entrusted to my husband and me are priceless treasures that are going to change the world! Each day and each moment, is an opportunity for them to grow into the godly men that the Lord has planned for them to be! If it were up to me to shape them into these world-changing men, I would be crippled with fear and weighed down with such a daunting burden. And to be quite honest, I don’t know exactly what the Lord has planned for them anyway!
Instead, I can embrace freedom in the knowledge that God alone can mold them into the individuals that He created them to be! And I can trust that He’ll continue forming me, into the person He’s created me to be, too!