I remember it like it was yesterday. We had been home from the hospital for only a few days, after the delivery of our daughter. It was about 2 AM and we had tried everything we knew to comfort our crying newborn. In desperation my husband, wearing nothing but a pair of boxer shorts, stumbled down the hall to our guest room, knocked on the door, handed over our screaming baby to my mother and said, “I don’t know what to do with her!” He then wearily made his way back to our bed, pulled the blankets over his head, and went to sleep.
And so it began. We had no idea what we were doing…and that has pretty much been what has characterized our lives for 27 years of parenting.
It begins when they are infants. We spend almost every waking moment trying to figure out what these little people need and how we are supposed to care for them. We read books. We talk to other parents. And just when we think we know what we are doing — they change.
Every year we celebrate another birthday not knowing what the following year will hold, how they will change as they grow, what kind of learners they will be, how they will do in school, what lies ahead for them, or how they will respond to difficulty. Again, we read more books, talk to more parents, think we might have this parenting thing down. Again — They change.
Finally we find ourselves in the teen years.
We have worked hard. They are older, they know how to communicate, and we feel like we know these kids pretty well. Then it happens. They change — again! Why are they acting like that? Why do they respond that way? Why won’t they talk? What are they thinking? I thought we taught them better than that! And what you have been feeling all of these years is again confirmed. You really don’t know very much!
You feel the same way my husband felt when he stood in front of his mother-in-law in only his boxer shorts. Helpless. Vulnerable. You wish you could hand them over to someone and say, “I don’t know what to do!” You wish you could walk away for awhile, climb into bed, pull the blankets over your head, and go to sleep.
The hardest part of parenting has been the sense that I really don’t know what I’m doing. I often feel foolish, helpless, and vulnerable! So, how should we respond to the mystery of parenting as we live our lives before the watchful eyes of our children?
The most important things that God has been teaching me is this:
- I must intentionally walk along side my children and purpose to patiently get to know them as individuals.
- I must regularly admit to my children that don’t know it all and be willing to seek forgiveness every single time I respond poorly or miss the mark in some way.
- I must rely on, and seek help from, the One who made my children — The only One who knows it all.
- I must make sure that my children know that I am relying on, and seeking help from, the One who made them — The only One who knows it all.
- I must pull them close and include them in the relying on, and seeking help from, the One who made them — The only One who knows it all!
The most important thing that we can do as parents is to stand before the throne of God on a daily basis, hand our children over to Him and say, “I don’t know what to do with them!” Then we can stumbled back to our room, climb back into bed, and fall asleep — finding rest and confidence in the all knowing, all seeing, sovereign arms of the maker of our children.