I had a surreal moment this morning.
My husband, our son, and me sat in his guidance counselor’s office at the high school to discuss the college application process since this is his senior year.
Wait a minute…wasn’t it just yesterday that the three of us sat in this very office for the first time to discuss our son’s transition from homeschooling into the high school?
Wasn’t it just yesterday that I sat in the school parking lot after the first day of school searching for his red hair in the sea of students as they streamed out of the building at the end of the day? Practically holding my breath wondering how it had gone…then exhaling with relief and a smile when he declared that the day had been “a great one!”
I looked at the young man sitting beside me, confidently telling the guidance counselor that he had already finished his college essay, had lined up his teacher recommendations, and was registered to take the SATs for the second time.
I listened with parental pride when the guidance counselor told us that Josh qualified as a New Hampshire scholar. His hard work, laser-like focus, and dedication have paid off. I had nothing to do with it; this was all my son’s effort. It’s who he is.
I silently gave thanks to my very good God who had taken my hand and stilled my trembling heart all those years ago when He placed me on the road of homeschooling with this promise: “Your children will be taught by the Lord and great will be their peace.” (Isaiah 54:13).
I knew I could not possibly take on the herculean task of educating my kids on my own, but He used this verse to assure me that He would help me give them what they needed. After all, they are more His than they are mine. His love for them amazingly eclipses my own. He knows that I would give my life for both Josh and Julia…and He has already given His for them. (John 3:16).
I listened to Josh tell the counselor about his dream of being a writer. I listened to her tell Doug and I what a fine young man we have raised.
And I fought hard to hold back tears.
Ann Voskamp wrote on her blog the other day, “Your Father is bigger than your failures.”
I have made so many mistakes as a parent. The other day, I was scrolling down my newsfeed on Facebook, seeing all these fresh little faces, proudly posing for their first day of kindergarten. These photos trumpeted hope and the promise bright new beginnings.
I found myself wondering what I would do differently if I had it to do over again. If I am honest, lots of regrets immediately filled my mind.
“If only I had…”
“If only I hadn’t…”
“If only I had been more like…”
We are so hard on ourselves, aren’t we? We try so hard to be the “perfect” parent but there is only One who is perfect. (James 1:17).
The truth is that we are broken people trying our best to parent other broken people.
There will be hurt feelings, misunderstandings, temper tantrums, disappointment, heartache…as well as laughter, togetherness, inside family jokes, road trips, and sweet memories.
The fact is that I don’t have another chance at parenting my kids through childhood. But I know that I have done my very best to prepare them to live their God-given stories in this world.
Rather than looking back, I will look forward to the precious day that is right in front of me. I will celebrate the fact that God’s mercies are new every morning (Lamentations 3:22-23). I will treasure the days as they slip past, rushing toward graduation day in June.
I will stop taking guilt trips. I will instead rest in the knowledge that His love and His grace mercifully cover my mistakes and fill in the holes.
I will let go of the things that don’t really matter and focus on the things that do.
I will thank Him for the privilege of being a parent to our two red-heads who fill my heart with such joy everyday.
I will continue to mentor the young moms in my area of influence and encourage them to stop trying to be supermom and concentrate on filling the role of being God’s “Plan A” for their children.
I will endeavor to demonstrate the same grace that He has shown me.
I will savor the music of a house full of teenagers.
I will resist the urge to hover and simply walk alongside.
I will listen more than I speak.
I will not take today for granted.
“There are two lasting bequests we can give our children. One is roots. The other is wings.”