We gathered 'round a pile of beautifully wrapped gifts, cupcakes decorated with bumble bees, Pooh presiding from his spot on the table. My daughter-in-law is due in just a few weeks with our first grandchild, a boy, and sweet friends came to celebrate.
Of course, I am way too young for all this to be happening. I was just a new mama sitting in the present-opening seat myself yesterday, wasn't I?
Maybe not. Maybe it's really been twenty-four years, and my baby is going to be a daddy. It sounds a little to me like someone is giving me a purple unicorn in a few weeks--something wonderfully impossible.
As Chelsea sat and unwrapped tiny baby booties and onesies, toys and books, a bassinette and high chair, I couldn't help but find my mind recalling all my own hopes and anticipation as my little ones were on their respective ways. We were determined to do everything just right. "If a child feels right, he will act right," Dr. Sears was fond of writing. We snuggled them close and memorized verses and read bedtime stories and prayed prayers. They were the best gift we'd ever been given, and I took my responsibility as a mama so seriously--as I should have.
An awful lot of years have gone by since my gifts first arrived. And I've learned a thing or two that I didn't expect. Children can be handled "right" ... and still not "act right." I was determined not to cause any breaking-- and yet we all arrive in this broken place bearing scars, some very obvious, some invisible; some internal, some external; some physical, some mental. Falling through heaven to here can cause cracks we can't see 'til our children are under pressure, and even the tenderest of handling from a mama can't erase every fissure or seal every hurt place.
And of course, having children reveals we have a few cracks of our own.
When all is said and done, I've found that my dearest desire is not to perfectly parent (impossible!) nor to raise children with no scars (impossible!) My deepest wish, rather, is that I could be a mom with, if not no regrets, then certainly as few as possible. Did I go beyond what I thought I could do? Did I lay down my life daily? Have I walked alongside my children on the sunny days as well as the cloudy ones and the hail-filled ones and through their stormy tempests? Have I trained them faithfully? Have I apologized when I've failed? Have I loved and loved and loved and loved regardless of how I'm tempted to give in or throw in the towel?
When all is said and done, will I be able to stand before God and know I was a faithful mom?
Because in that moment, when He and I are finally face to face in person, one thing is for sure: He's not going to ask me to answer for my children's behavior; He's going to ask me to answer for mine.
Our children aren't meant to function as our trophies. Their behavior isn't proving anything for us or winning us any awards. Neither does their brokenness prove we've done a bad job; brokenness is inherent and only proves they are human. I want to be a mom without regrets. And I'll cheer you on toward the same goal, through your own sunny days and hailstorms, as we wait to hear these words ...
"'Well done, good and faithful slave. You were faithful with a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.'" Matthew 25:23