I am so relieved to announce that my oldest child and ultimate “guinea pig” has managed to reach adulthood without becoming an axe murderer.... yet!
If she does after this point in her life, I can assume IT WILL NOT BE MY FAULT!
I know this sounds super crazy to most of you. However, this was a very real fear I owned soon after Hannah was born. Becoming a new mom was not an easy transition for me. I know, I can hear some of your thoughts now... “What? But you have 9 kids?” “But you seem so relaxed and laid back?” “How can this be? You are the best mom I know?” (Okay... I am certain no one is thinking that... ha!)
Anyway. I was a mess after the birth of my daughter. As a young girl, I never played with baby dolls. As a teen, I hated babysitting. Even after the birth of my nephews when I was a young adult, I completely freaked out when my sister left me alone with her boys. So basically, I had no experience with tapping into my “mothering skills”. Yet, I really think the true problem for my difficult transition was the fact I had unrealistic expectations. I had read all the right books. I knew all the proper techniques.
BUT... dang it.... this little creature would not follow the “rules”.
After a measly two days old, I was convinced that my sweet little baby would grow up and become an axe murderer. I fully understood the weight placed on us parents to raise our children to be the best persons they can be. I knew I had to be super diligent to always make the right decisions and do the right things. Obviously, I was already screwing up. She just would not sleep when she was supposed to!!!!! I was facing certain doom.
My poor husband had to repeatedly talk his crazy wife back to reality. He even actually threw away one of the books I had read. (For anyone who knows my husband, who is a full blown book hoarder/lover, that was a heroic act on his part.) It took lots of time, much prayer, and wisdom that comes with age to realize that I can’t mess my kids up that easily.
Sure, we parents make lots of mistakes. We will most definitely cause permanent damage to some part of their psyche that will require them to make adjustments as they get on with their own lives. Like my husband has said before, we are continually giving them material for their own “How I survived childhood” book. Yet, thankfully, they have lots of graces and mercies flowing into their lives as well.
Hannah is now almost 22 years old, graduating college today, and getting married in a few short weeks. She is an outstanding individual. She is beautiful, poised and healthy. She was a great student and high achiever. She has visions, dreams and goals for her life. She has made great choices in the most important areas, especially her faith and her future spouse. I stand in awe of all that she has accomplished and become. She is a testimony of how grace and trust in God can bring about the most unbelievable victories in the lives of our children despite all of our short comings.
When my children were wee babes and I spent hours awake in the middle of the night nursing and caring for them, I would fret and worry for who they would become. This anxiety would lead me to cry out for help to the only one capable of making up where I lack. I would pray for my children, asking God to pour His grace into the lives of these little “guinea pigs” that I really had no idea how to raise. In the end, I think that prayer was the best "act" of my mothering I could have done.
Today is just one day of the bright future that I get the privilege of witnessing grace in action. Hannah has become this beautiful lady not because I did everything right or because she followed all the “rules”, but because God was invited in to help.