Wow- so I’m feeling a little like I went to sleep one fun summer night and woke up to the scent of freshly-sharpened pencils and lunch box lunches. That came fast! And when we took our annual back-to-school picture yesterday, and there were only two kids left in a school uniform, I thought again, “Wow. That came fast.”
It’s been my tradition to write a little back-to-school post about this time each year, and today I’m writing from that terrifying place we all stood in our minds on the day a newborn baby was placed in our arms. You know that place where it’s you, standing on a sidewalk waving to the rear view of a car packed with college dorm decor? Yeah, that one.
And since I’m literally there now, with my second child about to join my first at college, I’ll give you my perspective…
First of all, there’s good news. It’s not quite as terrifying for me as I would lay awake imagining it would be. I don’t wonder if I’ve done enough or if these kids are going turn out to be perfect citizens. I’ve learned a few things from the many mistakes I’ve made along the way. And although you will never hear me say I’ve figured this whole thing out, here’s what I will say–I don’t really need to. And let me tell you, mom-friend, when you convince yourself that it’s okay to let go of perfection and having to figure out how to raise the perfect child, it feels great!
I should probably start by saying it was my kids who actually helped me figure this out along the way, and each time it has been difficult and sometimes humiliating. (Thank you, sweet children!) They’ve made mistakes (of course!), and when that happens, people notice. And then I have a choice to either pretend it didn’t happen and try to carry the weight of a huge facade, or I can say, “Whew! Well at least we got that out of the way! Now here’s the real us.”
One of the toughest things we face as mothers is the critical eye of other people. (It’s actually a tough thing to face as a female, period.) We feel like we’re judged by how well our kids behave or how perfect they appear. Unfortunately, we can’t change the opinions people have of us. That’s just how life is. What we do have the power to change is how much value we give to those opinions. And as a Christian, I’ve finally let it sink in that there really is only one opinion that I should be concerned about, and that’s God’s.
The beautiful thing about that is, He not only will love us unconditionally when we do make mistakes, He will also provide us the comfort and wisdom and strength to get through it all as well. And every single one of us has access to that kind of relationship with Him.
And with that kind of support and confidence, I’m no longer seeing myself as just a mom, standing on the sidewalk as my kids drive away into a life of their own, hoping to goodness that they turn out to be nice people and don’t break my heart.
I’m more like a strong woman, on a mountain top, with wind blowing through my hair (and cute shoes, because I can just do this better with cute shoes), and I’m standing there with a quiver full of arrows, confidently launching them into the world. And even though I may not be the best marksman, and I may not even be able to see exactly where each arrow will land, I don’t have to. I can be confident because the God who controls the wind has them in His hand and will guide them even where I can’t.
And when I live in this knowledge that God is the One to Whom I answer, and not the opinions of others, my kids will learn this too. And when they are released to find the path of their own lives, this will be what they cling to.
As arrows are in the hand of a mighty man; so are children of the youth.
Happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them: they shall not be ashamed,
but they shall speak with the enemies in the gate.
I see you sweet mother, with the teary eyes on that first day of kindergarten. And yes, if you blink a few times it will be high school graduation. But, you’ve got this. And even when they do graduate and head their way, you will still have a place of influence. Plus, you’ll have some great friends that you actually raised! There’s just no need to doubt yourself and worry if you’re doing it all right if you’re depending on the Lord. It’s going to be really exciting to see what wonderful people your kids turn out to be.
Want to read back over some of my previous back-to-school posts? Click on the titles below: