Friday, October 29, 2010

13 Going on 30

In exactly 9 months from today, I turn 30. For most people, this is a depressing event. For me, however, I don’t mind. In fact, I’m kind of looking forward to it. I supposed it is because I have always considered myself to have lived a life well past my physical age, so turning 30 isn’t really a “landmark” event. It’s another year. However, today does mark a day that I have been dreading. My son turns 13. This day is a bit depressing. I had no idea it would be really. But the harsh realization that in 5 years he will be moving on to college and out of the house, and out of my and his father’s protection is a scary thought. From the age of 0-12 parents experience things like, crawling, walking, ABC’s, learning to ride a bike, eating lunch at school with your kids, bedtime stories, and kisses from your kids before bedtime. From the ages of 13-18 it’s puberty, no more kisses before bed because it’s not cool anymore, interest in the opposite sex, “the talk”, actually caring about how they look, driving, dating, prom, and talks of college. Of course, this is a seriously condensed list, but you get the idea. Stuff changes. Now, not to sound overly ignorant, of course, I knew stuff was going to change. That is where the fiercely protective mother in me comes in. It seems that the word “teenager” brings with it the idea that “life” is waiting in the wings to try to make your child stumble, to try and make your child hurt and fail. Moreover, a good parent, at times, will allow their child to fail, and not be there to clean up every mess that their kid makes, because that is how they learn to be an accountable, responsible adult. I realize this, however, this “13th birthday” brings with it a desire to be a “bad” parent all the way and clean up every mess life throws at my son. That being said, I realize this is me lacking faith. And I am working on it. I know that God does not promise our lives will be without pain and suffering and I know that God has a plan for my son’s life.  I know that "The mind of man plans his way, but the LORD directs his steps." Proverbs 16:9 I know which way I would like for my son’s life to go. I would like for his life to be without pain, without suffering, without hardship. I would like him to be able to grow into a man without having to go through trials, but I also know that this is an incredibly unrealistic and ignorant way of thinking. Jesus Himself went through trials before He returned to Glory. It is the mother in me, and that I cannot change. However, I can change my prayer life to reflect God’s will and not my own. In the past 13 years, I have learned some hard parenting lessons. Here are a few:
·         It is a bit cliché, but true. Time flies. I know so many people who are either pregnant, or have very small children that are so overjoyed at the new life that has been brought into their world. With this new life comes a lack a of sleep, mysterious spit up stains on your own clothes, stress over what germs may be on the pacifier that just fell on the ground, stress over what germs your baby may pick up from the stranger who wants to hold your precious baby in the mall, worry over which formula will provide the best nutrients for your baby’s growing body, worry, stress, worry, sleeplessness, worry, stress, but inevitably…JOY. Let me tell you, by the time that precious baby turns 13, all those moments you spent sanitizing a dirty, germy pacifier, choosing the right formula, catching extra sleep, or worrying over what germ your baby may have picked up in the mall won’t matter anymore, because you will then be too busy trying to remember where the last 13 years went. Be grateful for the time you have and cherish it.
·         Realize that you and your spouse are going to differ in your parenting styles. Period. You should have a basic groundwork for how you are going to raise your children, but there are going to be times that you disagree. Spending the next 18 years of your children’s lives in disagreement over how to raise your children will not benefit anyone. I believe that there is an order to be followed in the household. God, father, mother, children. When this order is disrupted, there are problems. However, basing your family’s foundation on the verse, “as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord” (Joshua 24:15) you are laying the groundwork for a peaceful partnership in parenting.
·         Raising children is stressful, and expensive. No doubt about that. But, it is also fun. One of my biggest regrets of the past 13 years is not laughing enough. While you should definitely take parenting seriously, you should allow yourself to laugh and not take yourself so seriously. You will make mistakes along the way. We are imperfect people, we made imperfect kids, the combination is bound to lead to some funny (and some not so funny) events along the way. So, allow yourself to laugh. Plus, as my husband likes to say, laugh lines are prettier than frown lines!
·         I heard not too long ago someone say something like, “you shouldn’t take credit for all of your child’s successes, and you shouldn’t take credit for all of your child’s failures”. This is one of the hardest lessons for me. I have no problem with the not taking credit for his successes. However, the failures I take on almost completely. This goes back to wanting to protect my child to a fault. We, as parents, have to allow our child to fail, and succeed, on their own, and allow them to take credit for both. It makes them stronger, higher functioning adults.
·         Do not be afraid to talk to your kids. I was a teenage mother, and as such, there wasn’t much hiding I could do when it came to “the talk”. Now, I let my husband handle most of the details when it came to that portion because he is a boy (thank goodness for that), but we took the advice of other parents who said do not give them more information than they ask for. Kids talked when I was in school, and times today are much different than they were even 20 years ago when it come s to what goes on in school hallways. You want your kids to get “life facts” from you so that you know they are getting good, honest information instead of from Johnny on the playground.  
Well, I think I have surpassed the definition of a “few” so I will stop there. Although today carries a bit of sadness at the fact that my “little boy” is growing up, I am also very proud at the young man he is becoming. I am very thankful to God for carrying my family through the difficult times we have faced and for shielding my son from any unnecessary pain. I am thankful that I am blessed with a wonderful, God-fearing husband who is an amazing father to our son, who has no idea has truly lucky he is to have a Dad like him. I am thankful for Christ who will continue to direct my son’s steps for the rest of his life.
 "Train up a child in the way he should go, even when he is old he will not depart from it.” -Proverbs 22:6