Tuesday, September 6, 2016

The most difficult job.

I've come to realize in the past two years that parenting is the hardest job of all.

It's not for everyone, that's as plain as day. Parenting is a combination of patience, grace, intuition, prayer, shelter, and I'm sure much more that I will come to know. Some say, and have said recently, that you cannot tell the quality of parents by looking at the child, the product of their hard work. I disagree. On this Labor Day, I am most humbled by that of my parents. If you were to look back at my 18-year-old self, you would have seen a moderately intelligent, well-meaning but fallible, somewhat sheltered girl. I'd argue that I could not have asked for more. 

Don't get me wrong, I had and still have plenty of weaknesses. I'm messy, get bored easily, and fail to put in great effort to keep many friends (instead I choose a select few and think of myself very blessed). I wish that I could share much of the knowledge I have now on my teenage self. It would save me some significant struggle and hopefully humble me. But, another characteristic of a well-brought-up teenager is one that is ready to take on the world, with adequate fears but plenty of resilience. Yes, I have a lot to be thankful for in the labor of my parents. 

While I am still a new mother of a toddler who will turn two in December, I have a greater appreciation than ever for the hard work of my parents. And of course, it does take a village to raise a child. My grandparents, aunts, uncles, and such have taught me a great deal as well. 

I'm sure that at more than one point of my childhood, I swore to the world that I would be better than my parents. I would let my daughter go to prom with her boyfriend who was two years older. I would encourage my children and guide them to decide early on what they want to do in life, so as not to waste precious time. And, I would let my child go out with her friends without worrying that she's making poor choices.

What a load...

I can still recall those foolish thoughts of my teenage years, and I'm sure there are so many more! It is the right of teenagers to have a warped view of life, and think themselves superior, brighter, and funnier. Thankfully, some of us grow up eventually.

So, this labor day, I attempt to undo the foolishness of my young-self and list a few of the things I hope to emulate as a mother.

3. Be patient.

My father is hands down the most patient person I have ever met. He can hang out with his grandchildren for hours on end, encouraging them in their playfulness. Many days, he will take my little Layna on adventures up in the deer blind, exploring the mass of buttons on the truck's dashboard, throwing things off the creek bridge.

And my mother, she deserves an award just for putting up with me. Even now, I know that I cause grief when it isn't warranted. I don't always make the best choices, but she guides me when necessary and supports me whenever she can. Until my little girl is grown up and moving away, I will continue to be amazed that my mother has put up with my nonsense. 


2. Shelter them.

You never realize how scary the world really is until you become a parent. How they teach math is schools these days worries me, let alone the secular trash that lives in the heads of our little ones. Parents don't shelter their children enough these days. Sure, you don't want to separate them from the realities of life so much that they can't handle the real world. You probably know a 'Christian kid' or two that went crazy when they moved away to college or what not. 

But, don't forget that as a parent you are entrusted with the crucial responsibility of protecting your child. That means physically safe and mentally, emotionally, creatively...all of it. Protect them from the ugliness of our society. Give them the tools and the understanding to hold their own when they need to, but whenever possible...shelter them. They will have plenty of time to learn and experience the backwards thinking and incivility of so many.

1. Pray lots.

When in doubt, pray and pray again. Because, you really can't control your children. You can guide them, protect them, encourage them, so many things; but, you cannot control them. They do have minds of their own.

My Grandpa Sheets, in his weakest state while suffering the cruelty of cancer, asked for the support of my Grandma while he got to his knees and prayed for every one of his children, grand children, and great grand children. My Grandma Sheets told me that story at the funeral, and I will never lose the image. Prayer, in my opinion is one of the truest ways to show love. Love after all is an action, and prayer is such a great way to love. I know my parents pray for our family.

And, I have to say that it is not the cliche I'll pray for you that so many people use these days.

My thoughts and prayers are with you.

I'm praying for you. ... I mean, I don't pray but it's a nice thing to say.

There are so many things that anger me as a Christ-follower, and yes...we are allowed to get angry. This world is full of warped ways of life. There is no clear definition, when looking at society, of what Christianity is. So, I will leave it at this. If you do not actively pray for me...don't say you will. We can all see through your pretenses. 


What are you thankful for this Labor Day? I hope it isn't just a day off. 

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