The following is a guest post written by Laura Thomas of This Eternal Moment.
“I’m no more a wonder than anyone. And that’s what makes the world magical. Every baby’s a seed of wonder — that gets watered or it doesn’t.”
~ Dean Koontz, Relentless
I’ll never forget the day when my daughter Grace decided to get out of the jogging stroller and run with me. I was doing my regular 2½ mile jogging loop in our neighborhood and had only begun when she begged me to let her run with me.
At first I must admit that I hesitated: “Mommy might run too fast for you, honey,” and “If you get tired, you can’t just sit back down.”
She was undaunted and insisted. She wanted to run. I gave in. She then proceeded to run the entire 2½ miles without stopping, whining or missing a beat.
She was three years old.
She continued this habit with me whenever I ran for the next several months, until she got a bike and decided she could get around faster that way. To this day, she continues to surprise me with what she is capable of if I will only believe in her and let her try, cheering her on every step of the way.
To parent is to give birth, but more importantly it is to nurture and raise a child. To water, sow and cultivate the life within a small, often helpless, very dependent human being.
Photo by Mary St. George
Sometimes I think that as a mother I need to be reminded that I have a very powerful, influential job that requires great humility.
The words we speak, the body language that we utilize, the decisions that we make concerning our kids will influence and impact them for good or for bad and will harness and release positive potential or quench it like water on a fire.
To see our role and purpose within the greater scheme of their lives, we must take a step back and look at the broader horizon of the time that we have with them. Our children are not our own; we have been entrusted with them to raise until they are adults themselves, at which point we must release them to God and to the world for the purposes and the future before them.
Receiving your child as a gift to be stewarded is to acknowledge that we are not their owner, but their guide.
When we see a strong-willed toddler throwing a tantrum, do we have the perspective to see his future as a focused and driven adult, standing strong for what he believes regardless of the pressures or adversities around him?
When we see a young child trying for the fifteenth time to ride her bike, getting up again and again even after bumps and bruises, do we see the woman within her who, 15 years later, will push through bureaucracy, lack of funds and an uncertain future just to open up her own small business?
When we look at our teenage son, eager to buy a dilapidated car so he can learn how to fix it up himself, do we see a future engineer, mechanic and creative problem-solver?
Or do we just see the headache the tantrum causes; band-aids and torn pants from constant falls, and the car grease that gets on our furniture?
In these times it might help us to remember our own childhood dreams and desires. When did your father, mother or teacher take you by the hand and say, “you can do it!” or “let’s figure that out together.”
Photo by Tony Alter
Or, on the other hand, when did someone tell you, “sorry, you just don’t have what it takes,” and kill the seed of hope within you?
I had an English teacher who told me in high school I would never be a good writer.
“Your grammar is horrible,” she told me.
Thank God I had other teachers in my life who told me differently, because I desired more than anything to be just what she told me I could not be: a writer … and that I have become.
We have a choice to make …
We can see our child struggling with reading and say, “you can do it,” or groan and sigh, expressing our impatience.
We can discipline and instruct our children on how to channel their passions and emotions towards good, or to let that very same passion destroy them.
We can sigh and say, “that project will be too messy, sorry,” or we can buy them paint, roll out the newspaper and let them get to work.
We can choose to be annoyed by constant questions, or to engage and explore the whys and hows and whats of life with our children.
What are the acorns of possibility in your own child’s life? How can you water and nurture them so that a mighty oak may emerge from within?
What an amazing concept you’ve shown me- to look at what we consider to be inconveniences and imagine what those”inconveniences” may bring in the future. Thank you! I really needed this!
Shelly’s latest post: Weekend Review: Momentary Panic
Thank you, Shelley! I’m so glad it spoke to you. Lets help bring out all the good gifts that are inside our kiddos!
Great reminder. I need to learn to see even how the poor behavior has often a good quality. A strong will, creativity that sometimes goes poorly 🙂 , ingenuity all need to be channeled not squelched.
Johanna’s latest post: January in Books
I loved this post Laura. Kids really are amazing. Sometimes I think one of my most important jobs is to not put up unnecessary obstacles in their path, so that who they can can truly emerge 🙂
Kara’s latest post: Dry ice and what’s next.
How true, Kara! Sometimes I think if I could just get out of my kids way they would figure things out a lot quicker 🙂 For instance, when Grace is practicing reading and stumbles over a word, tries out different sounds, is quiet for a moment, I want to rush in and tell her what it says. But when I give her time, she figures it out and is so proud of herself 🙂
If only we could always take a step back or two when raising our children how much better off we would all be right? The concept that the children are not there to fulfill our own unmet needs and desires is probably quite striking for many I would say. Right?…my son the doctor, my daughter the lawyer. So many people live through their kids and its such a healthy attitude to know that they were entrusted to our care and to make us proud.
Faigie, yes, I think that many children carry their parents expectations into adulthood and feel that they must “make them proud” by being who their parents think they ought to be …In contrast, I have a friend who says she wants to be her kids greatest cheerleader- that what they love to do and want to become, she will cheer them on and support them each step of the way.
Laura Thomas’s latest post: The Gift of New Eyes
I needed to read this today! Thank you!
Fantastic words of encouragement! Great remember of our long-term goals and how to practically apply them today. Don’t discount what our little ones can do (saying this as they are building a rather large bridge by moving the heavy couches and tables in our living room)
Rachel at Stitched in Color
Thank-you. That was a wonderful reminder of the privilege and responsibility we have to encourage.
Rachel at Stitched in Color’s latest post: Snow Stitches
Giving birth is not the only path to motherhood.