Am I doing this right?
When I was a brand new mama, I spent the first six months seeking answers from google, online forums and a friend who was a couple months ahead of me and had read far more parenting books than myself. I struggled to have confidence in the job I was doing. The strength of opinions coming at me from all sides undermined what little confidence I had in my abilities to be a good mom. Other than other panicked mothers on baby forums posting pictures of odd rashes and five-minute play by plays of their baby's fevers, I came across very few parents who would, in a place of vulnerability, offer up that they too questioned their own choices and longed for a little validation. Parents instead came off so confidently when they shared their decisions (like a school, or a meal plan, how they discipline,or a diapering method) and could likely rattle off a list of justifications for their decision. This was overwhelming. When my first son was around six months old, a switch finally flipped and I quit comparing my mothering to others' and started to trust my instincts. Eventually, my mantra became, "Is the baby alive? Is he fed? Is the booty clean and dry? Yes? Then you are doing a fine job." Babies were fairly simple. Meet their basic needs and snuggle as much as possible.
Now, several years down the road, I struggle with new choices and similar insecurities. I find myself trying to develop a list of justifications for the choices I make, and I'm not sure whom I am trying to convince that I'm doing this right. There are still those basic needs, and we never start or end a day without some snuggling, but there is a lot more in the middle. Opportunity. Practice. Deep spiritual conversations. Discussions about ethics. Reconciliation after fights. Supporting growing independence yet demanding obedience. Nurturing and pushing forward. Honoring commitments. Re-assessing privileges. Personal pursuits and family time. In each of these areas, I'm trying to figure out when I need to be soft, and when I need to be hard. When I need to be a stone that sharpens a knife, and when I need to be a salve that eases the pain of a wound. When I need to send out, and when I need to draw us in.
We take things slowly. I keep feeling the pressure to push push push, try try try, and worry that there is some opportunity/camp/lessons/special test that I've failed to provide them. And maybe I have, but childhood is barreling by us, and soon they will be young men. So for now, we lean into family. One sport at time. One after-school club. Not so many play dates. Not every single church meeting. No banking on any particular talent as the ticket to anyone's future or thinking progress reports define the child. We work on defining love and encouraging character. We talk about how the love they show their friends may be the only picture of Jesus's love some of their friends see. We talk about their friends' behavior or hurtful actions and try to understand what may have motivated them and figure out how we can better live with them. We admit when we've been jerks. I pray they don't fall into my personal trappings. I keep telling myself I need to get them more dental floss. I try to not be emotionally manipulative or check out, but I am and I do and I come back for extra snuggles.
Am I doing this right?
I will fail, over and over.
Are you doing this right?
There are no forums, no friends, no family that can satisfy that question we all carry to the grave.
It's why often my prayers aren't requests but simply acts of surrender.
"God, I give you this child. See my open hands? He is yours. I trust that You love him more than I ever could. I need Your mercy. He needs Your mercy. You are my confidence."
From Hebrews 4:
"Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need."