Dear Beloved Child,
From the day you were born we knew our lives had changed. We tried to prep for this day by buying all the possibly necessary toys, clothes, and diaper-changing stations. We tried to prep for this day by stocking up on diapers, wipes, and burp rags. We bought all the books we could find, talked to all the wise people whom had gone before us, and prayed hard. I mean REALLY hard. We even bought books about making our own food for you and proper sanitation of bottles and all other things. We would be ready for you.
We were not ready for you.
From the day you were born you were more precious than gold – and yet how does gold cry so much, sleep so much, and then eventually poop so much? The toys we bought, well you played with some but you liked the boxes more. The clothes we bought were never on you longer than 2 hours. Why? Because you seemed to know how to burp through bibs, rags, and all other barriers created to protect your clothes and ours. The diaper changing station was a great idea but after a few months you wouldn’t stay on it. The floor became our changing station and friend. And the diapers? We should have bought more. WAY more. Did I mention the amount of poop a child can make? And don’t get me started on the smell…
The books we bought or were given all had great ideas but none of them seemed to be to our style or pertain to you or us for that matter. The wisdom from our sage family and friends was good to know but most of the time not applicable. What worked for them worked for them and not us. But we managed and found our groove. In all honesty, you forced most of those grooves upon us. Or are they scars? Probably grooves.
We prayed daily. And we know our prayers helped and worked because through it all we were able to retain our sanity and by the grace of God nobody died. There were times where we thought you might, and there were times we thought WE might, but with each morning we were both given another day not to die. We lost count of the parenting mistakes we made that could have gone any which direction…but you didn’t die. We’re thankful for that.
As you grew up you became more independent and while we loved this and wished for it when you were so dependent on us, it also broke our hearts. When you figured out how to walk on your own it meant we didn’t get to hold your cute little hands to keep you balanced. When you started noticing what types of clothes you liked and declared that you would wear we didn’t know how to balance our emotions. On one hand we rejoiced in your workings to find your voice and yet we lamented in the fact that we couldn’t dress you how we wanted any more. You had your ideas, your styles, and your own ways. That was hard.
We rejoiced at your independence when you were able to feed yourself and cut your own food. We rejoiced at your independence when you were able get your own cups, plates, and silverware. We rejoiced at your independence when you could go to the bathroom on your own, hop in the tub by yourself, and proclaimed, “I can do it!” to nearly everything. We rejoiced at your abilities, and yet we lamented.
We took joy in sending you off to school and yet that was one of the hardest things we’ve ever had to do. Now someone else was going to help raise you. Now someone else was going to teach you some basic life-skills. This gave us freedom and more space to breathe and yet this gave us one more thing to lament.
Those first few years of school seemed to pass quickly. You would come home and share with us your day. Exuberant stories included who you hung out with, what snacks you had, and who didn’t nap during “nap time.” We relished at seeing the world through your eyes and hearing the wonders of the world through your voice.
My child, bear with me here. I know I’m going to skip quite a few years but there simply is too much space between then and now to cover. I share with you all those past joys and laments because in truth I write to tell you to have patience with me. You are continuing to grow and mature at a rate faster than I am comfortable. You’re older now and I know you are still trying to figure out who YOU are. I get that. You may not believe it but I once was your age. I sought independence, I sought personal space, and I sought some type of privacy in my life too. But you need to know that God gave you to us to raise and train (Prov 22:6) – and that is hard to release our grip from. With each day you grow older and more independent which means with each day you need me less and less. At some point you will go off to college (not too soon though please) and you’ll call and share with us your day – but if you’re anything like me that will be in limited amounts. I get it. I was there too – which gives me an interesting perspective. And maybe some day you’ll be given a child too – then you’ll have a different perspective as well.
With all of that being said I have some requests and promises I want you to know. These are not exhaustive but they are important.
- No matter what: I love you. You need to know that. I know I don’t say it enough and I hope I say it more. But please know that I love you more than you’ll ever know.
- I’m going to check in on you and you will probably get annoyed with it. Please allow me this. I need to hear your voice. I need to know that you’re OK. I WANT to know what is going on in your life because you are such a part of mine. I don’t need to know details but I will drink them in when you offer them up. Please offer them up.
- I will pray for you. Always. I thank God daily for his entrusting of you to me and I pray for him to watch and guide you through all your days. I have shared with you daily of God’s love and we have prayed together as a family. Please know that I will never stop praying for you.
- Pray. It’s not only good for your soul, it’s not only good for your conscience, but it’s what God asks of us. Pray in seasons of joy, seasons of sorrow, seasons of lament, and seasons of pain. Understand that in prayer you can bring all things to God and that he listens and responds. You will need help each day as you traverse this world and prayer will give you strength, encouragement, and hope. I know that you are finding your own journey but know that God has your path. I pray you find comfort and peace in it as I have.
- Be patient with me. I know I’ve been a parent for quite some time but I still feel like there are times where I have no clue what I’m doing. So please be patient with ME and I promise to be patient with you too. You will make your own mistakes, even mistakes I made – but I will try not to stop you from learning from them.
- No matter what – remember that God loves you. You are his and he redeemed you with the most precious thing there is: his blood. Never forget this.
I want to tell you more, give you more, and promise you more but ultimately what I try to remember each day is that while God blessed us with your life – your life is not ours. YOU are not ours. You belong to Him. Body and soul. In living and dying…you are not ours or even yours for that matter (1 Cor 6:19-20; Rom 14:7-9). We rejoice in that.
Oh, and all the food books about healthy eating and making the food for your infant? Yeah, I made a freezer full of pureed food and you hated it all. But that’s another conversation because now we can’t seem to keep enough food in the freezer for you to eat – and you eat almost anything! Oh the irony.