If you are fortunate, life is filled with many memorable moments. But the day you become a parent may be the most monumental moment of all. Every minute detail of that day will be stored in your heart of memories.
From the obscure details, like eating a McDonald’s big breakfast less than an hour after the baby is born, (yes, I did that) to the glorious moment of holding your precious baby for the very first time.
And there it begins, all of the extraordinary baby’s first times: the first cheesy smile that you know isn’t due to gas, the first contagious giggle that you find yourself doing anything to keep going, the first sighting of the tooth barely cutting through the gums, the utterance of a first word “mama” or “dada”, and, of course the first toddling steps.
But, so much needs to happen – crawling, standing up, and cruising (or walking by holding furniture)- before the baby can let go of the furniture or your leg, and take those steps.
I think the process of learning to walk is related to parenting.
When the baby is learning to sit up on their own, a blanket, preferably a thick one, is placed under the child and pillows are placed strategically around him, so his head won’t abruptly make contact with the floor.
Once the baby learns to crawl, the house is baby- proofed with gates at every staircase, cabinets and drawers secured with special locks, and outlets outfitted with plastic covers.
When baby is wanting to pull itself up on it’s own two feet, he uses everything around him for support, such as, the furniture or your legs.
Once the baby is ready to practice his toddling steps, your finger is there to support him and the furniture is there for some cruising.
I can vividly recall my children’s small fingers holding on to my finger as they took one step at a time.
And then comes the moment when the baby lets go of the furniture or your leg, and takes their first independent steps. The steps are unbalanced and usually they fall right away, you are amazed with their progress and you cheer them on.
Before you know it, the baby becomes a toddler, and you wonder if they skipped the walking stage, or for that matter did they forget how to walk. They are running all over the place with arms pushed back as if flying, and you are running right behind.
Although, they have become an expert walker, they still need mommy, you.
It is certain that they will have their share of bumps, scrapes, bruises and scratches along the way. But, you are hoping for no broken bones or stitches.
Eventually, that becomes the least of your worries.
As they get older, especially during their teen years, you become more concerned with “where” their walking is going to take them. And you know that one bittersweet day, they are going to walk out of your house, and onto adulthood.
But until that day happens, fear wants to slither and squirm it’s way into our parenting. It’s purpose; to influence and ultimately dictate the decisions we make when it comes to our children.
I think it is important to mention here that growing up, I was a fearful and worrisome child.
My biggest fear growing up was something horrible happening to my mom, and unfortunately, ten years ago, that fear came true.
When I became a parent, my fear compounded. My little, sweet Bianca was my everything, and I didn’t want anything to happen to her.
As Bianca grew older, my fear (an emotional feeling), eventually led to my body physically giving out on me.
In the middle of night, I would wake up with severe headaches, my face and mouth numb, my heart palpitating, my hands shaking, and feeling like I was going to loose control or pass out.
After visiting the emergency room a couple of times, and having to endure an unnecessary spinal tap (because they thought I had bleeding in my head), I was diagnosed with tension headaches and anxiety attacks.
A couple of weeks after the diagnosis, God used my best friend, Sheila to pray for me. That evening, on the bathroom floor with raindrop tears falling down my face, I prayed liked I never prayed before. I prayed for God to come into my life, and take over.
The next day, I woke up better and different. I still had fear, but something was different. My fear was being overtaken by my newfound faith in God.
A year later, I heard a sermon about a prostitute and her alabaster jar. (I highly recommend you read this story- Luke, chapter 7:37- 50. The brief details below doesn’t give it justice.)
In the story, after the prostitute women uses her hair and tears to wipe Jesus’ feet, she takes the alabaster jar from around her neck. It was filled with expensive perfume, and pours it on Jesus’ feet.
It is important to note here, that this story wasn’t about the perfume. This was about her giving Jesus all that she had, knowing it belonged to Him, and not her.
After telling the story, the preacher asked the following profound questions: What is in your alabaster jar? What do you hold tightly around your neck, or close to your heart?
Of course, my response was my husband and children.
The preacher then proceeded to challenge us to take the alabaster jar off and break it on Jesus’s feet.
The preacher: “It never belonged to you.”
Me: My husband and children don’t belong to me.
I fell to my knees and cried. My tears were tears of joy. I felt relieved.
I was carrying this burden that God never intended for me to carry. I had allowed the enemy to hold my mind captive with fear of the unknown. The “what ifs” had a hold of me.
What if my husband or child became ill?
What if my husband or child gets into an accident?
What if my child gets influences from so and so, and starts making all the wrong decisions?
The day I heard that sermon, I started the process of releasing my children to God.
It has been nearly 16 years since I heard that message. I would be lying if I said that I don’t worry about my family, or that I don’t wrestle with the idea of taking back my alabaster jar, and placing it around my neck.
Like most of you, I would love to keep my children in a bubble, especially with how things are in this day and age.
But then, I am reminded that they are God’s children. And, he has an individualized plan for each one of them.
And I sure don’t want my fear to get in the way.
Over the years, I’ve had to make some major decisions when it comes to parenting my children.
When making those decisions, I am reminded that I need to support and guide them through this process, like I did when they were learning to walk.
I didn’t stop them from the process of walking, because they may fall and hurt themselves.
Instead, I wanted to scaffold the walking process for them, so they would be successful.
When they needed the pillows for support, the house to be baby-proofed, and a leg or finger to hold on to, I provided those things.
But most importantly, I was there to cheer them on, and I believed in their inner- abilities.
When I think about supporting and guiding my children through their path in life. I am well aware of the fact that they are all different.
My oldest daughter is cautious. She wants my guidance and opinions about things. She doesn’t like to be pushed into things. In making a decision, she tends to crawl and scope things out, before getting up and walking. Today, she is learning to take risks in life, especially when it comes to her career.
My second daughter is a doer. She prefers to walk before crawling, sometimes she runs. She loves learning from life experiences. She is extremely receptive of our guidance. But, she needs to know that we have full confidence in her. Today, she is learning to slow down, and seek guidance before walking, or running right into the wall.
I know I can’t raise them the same. One way of parenting isn’t going to work for them.
As their mom, I want to make sure I scaffolded the process of decision making with them.
I don’t want to make all the decisions for them, and I certainly don’t want them to make decisions they aren’t ready to make on their own.
I want to guide and support them through the process of becoming a level- headed adult that seeks God’s guidance before making decisions.
I must add that if I operate in fear, I may keep them from experiences they were meant to experience.
My fear will also plant seeds of fear in their life, and they may not live up to their full potential, because the fear has them in bondage.
One day, most likely sooner than you want, they will have to walk out your door, but have comfort in knowing that God is always with them
As for you, mommy, rest assured that your babies know you love them, and that your door is always open for them, to come receive some guidance and support.
And I leave you with a quote from my favorite children’s book…
“I’ll love you forever,
I’ll like you for always,
As long as I’m living
my baby you’ll be.” Robert Munich