It comes in waves.
Some days you look at the wild eyed, half-naked creatures running across the lawn and wonder, “Who are these children and why are they calling me ‘Mommy’?!?” They lie, they steal from each other, they wrestle for blood, they find mommy’s chocolate and Eat. It. All. They take the dishsoap to the pool and you find them a few minutes later lathering EVERY water gun for a bubble fight. The pump fills the pool with suds for days afterwards. They throw their little brother’s pet rock into the woods in a fit of anger. You find yourself spending half an hour searching for a rock and wondering just how to discipline for something so calloused and yet so insignificant. Why can’t each child come with his own rule book? You set limits on screen time and they push those limits till you’re both grumpy and you ban all screens just at the witching hour before supper when it really would be helpful for the sake of all humanity if they had a little down time while you cook.
They live intensely.
Other days, your fourteen year old decides to get a job, goes out, and gets one. All on his own (with my approval). He works hard and doesn’t complain. Some days your twelves year old sits down to play dolls with his two year old sister, goes out and builds his five and six year old brothers an epic sandcastle, and comes in to take the trash out, all without being asked.
And one day, the nine year old, the quiet boy who can’t feel his legs and will always use a wheelchair, looks at you and announces, “I want to be baptized.”
There are some logistics involved, but when your crippled child says he wants to stand on his convictions, how do you give anything less than a tearful support?
This changing world is not the easiest place or time to raise men. It’s a 24/7, eighteen-plus year job. Even if I do everything perfectly, there is NO guarantee they won’t turn out to be ax murderers, or worse, politicians. And I won’t do everything perfectly. So the odds aren’t great.
But my kids aren’t statistics.
They are little humans (well, two are bigger than me now). They have bodies and brains separate from mine, unique to the culture. Their specific DNA could be detected separately IN MY BLOOD just 8 weeks from conception. Lab techs could already see male chromosomes, they could isolate physical traits completely different from mine, they could highlight possible tendencies before you could even tell I was pregnant. (Challenges the “my body, my choice” argument from a scientific viewpoint... Though life can hardly be quantified by mere science).
Some days, I am glad the world is difficult. As much as I long for my children to be happy, comfortable, safe, and thriving, I pray for more for them. What if it costs their happiness to do what is right? What if doing what is hard is better than their comfort? What if they choose the dangerous path rather than the safe one because it‘s the only one that leads to their goal? What if they have to subsist rather than thrive because their character constrains them at the expense of food, friends, heat, light, education, or health?
I could wish for them to grow up popular, healthy, rich, and successful. But that is, at best, superficial. Comfortable people are often complacent. I would rather my children grow up to be strong, full of conviction, and able to stand on their own feet- even the boy in the wheelchair.
Yesterday, as he floated in a tub of cold water under a tent, bouyed by the strong arms of his dad on one side and his pastor on the other, my nine year old son defied the local government which disapproves of social gatherings (unless they’re in protest). Surrounded by men who have prayed for, carried, and taught him by word and example since birth, he made a public decision to stand for God. Even if he needs braces to do it.
My boys are growing into men before my eyes. They are so much more than the sum of their chromosomes and DNA. They are so much more than a number. They are more than products of circumstance. Their lives are more than moments of good and bad. They are living, breathing, individual souls, created very specifically in the image of God, Who wants them and considered them worth a great deal. He would have given His life in exchange for any one of them. Actually, He did.
Some days, I am overwhelmed with my children. And yet, I am so glad they are in this world, and that I have the privilege of watching them grow. Each of their lives has immense worth.