Wednesday, October 21, 2009

I'm not a perfect parent (20 years from now, I can picture my kids reading that while giggling and responding, "No! Really?!"). I make mistakes, daily. Even hourly on some days. But I'll be darned if I'm not trying hard. My biggest flaws are that I tend to lose my patience with my oldest child--oh the drama--and tend to overindulge my middle child. I'm working on those.

One thing I am always sure of, however, is that my kids' needs are met. They are well fed. Keilana has enough cute clothing to satisfy her fashionista tendencies (usually). They are immunized and have regular check ups with their pediatrician. They spend a lot of time playing in the fresh air and sunshine, get lots of attention and affection from their mommy and daddy and have a safe, clean, warm place to sleep at the end of each day.

While there are times when I tell them that they need to entertain themselves for a little bit while I do some writing or read a book or do some chores, their needs always come first. Always. I go without much needed new clothes for sometimes years at a time so that I can do more for them. I go without needed sleep in order to comfort them in the middle of the night. I have put off for more than two years things I would like to do for my house and myself because I had to first pay off unexpected medical bills when my son suddenly got sick and ended up in the hospital for a week. I am not the least bit upset or bitter or even frustrated about that. My baby needed care, so we made sure he got it, whatever the cost and however long it set us back. Because that's our job, and we're just grateful that he's healthy again. We're parents and we made a commitment when we decided to have that child that we would always do all we could to care for him, forever. Not just until he got a job of his own, not just until he turned 18. That child was born in the covenant--ours forever. Ours in joy, and ours in hardship. Our moral stewardship over that child is something we can never walk away from, no matter the cost to us in money, time or heartache. Nor is it something we would ever want to walk away from. We love him more deeply and tenderly than can possibly be expressed in the feeble language of men, and so nothing brings us greater joy than being able to help our child, any and all of our children, in any way possible. They are what we live for.

Consequently, I cannot fathom what could ever possess a parent to tell their child that they can't take care of them, because they have to meet their own needs first. I know a lot of parents who've done it, but I've never understood one of them. Some have done it to small children--and I've watched some of those kids thrive in spite of selfish parents, but I've seen more of them whither away inside. I've seen even more of them do it to adult children. Is a parent less culpable when they turn away from an adult child? Maybe. Are they without responsibility to that child? Certainly not. Theirs in joy, theirs in hardship, forever.

If you tell your child you can't help them out because you can't afford to and then drive away in your German luxury car, its time to take a serious look in your heart and reevaluate your priorities. I may leave this world without ever obtaining much in the way of worldly goods, but if I leave it with a gaggle of happy kids and grandkids around my bed, so much the better. That's what it means to be successful, that's what it is to be happy: to be surrounded by people who love you, people who you love, and know that you have served them as best you could. I don't want my kids to say of me, "I know she loved me the best way she knew how". I want them to remember that they were never a burden to me, but have always, always been only blessings. They each come with their innate strengths and weaknesses, different challenges, but each one is a blessing beyond measure. Parenting is where we have the most opportunities to be the most Christlike--where it is most natural to put someone else first, without regard for ourselves. The one relationship in life where we most often glimpse the tremendous love our Father has for us. His in joy, His in hardship, forever.

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