Faith, Parenting

Are we ever really ready for parenthood?

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If someone had told me what motherhood was really like I wonder if I would have gone through with it.

Now don’t get me wrong,  I adore my sons and I would not part with them for all the world, however I don’t think I was entirely prepared for parenting. I am not talking about the sleepless nights associated with newborns,  or even the challenging tantrums that lasted way beyond the terrible twos, I am in fact talking about the huge heart wrenching responsibility of raising a little life. From the moment they were placed in my arms as wriggling newborns, my life and world was completely turned inside out and I was captivated by my sons, and my maternal instinct towards them flooded my soul.

My heart swells with pride whenever I think about my boys, they are both so individual and their smiles simply light up my day. Their personalities are so different yet so complimentary, and I love how they approach life so differently. The thought that my words and actions will mould them into the men they become is more than a little daunting however, and I reminded daily of how much I need to teach and invest in myself in order to do the same for them.

More than this though, I realise that it is external influences, often that are outside my control, that can have the greatest impact on and be the greatest threat to my children. When I look at them together, playing so innocently with no realisation about the atrocities committed across our city never mind our world, the fear I have for their safety, their happiness and their future in a somewhat hostile world just overwhelms me. I know that we are privileged to live in a civilised, democratic and relatively safe world, however the news tells a very different story with rapes, murders and most recently the horrific beheading of innocent victims from IS extremists being reported on a daily basis.

As a mother all I want to do is protect my children. They are literally my heart walking around outside my body, and they are on my mind every single minute of every single day. When they are not with me I want to know who they are with, where they are going and what they are doing. I want to know that they are safe, that they are happy and that they are not alone or afraid. My job as their momma is to love them, care for them, teach them and ultimately make everything okay but there are so many things I have cannot protect them from. I can deal with bad mouthed bullies or bumps and bruises, but how do I counteract the cowardly acts of criminals who seek to hurt and destroy? How do I protect them from fundamentalists and suicide bombers? How do I keep them from the clutches of child traffickers and paedophiles hiding in society waiting to prey on innocent children while their parents are distracted?

I yearn to offer my children the fun and freedom that I enjoyed as a child, so that they can learn and grow in the same way that I did, but I fear that this will never happen as the world we live in now has changed so much since the eighties and nineties. Where I was allowed to play out all day every day in the holidays, I know that no matter how street savvy my sons are, I would massively struggle with them playing out alone in our street much less away from home unaccompanied. Of course,  there will come a day when I have to let them go, and I will have to trust that the education we have given them at home, church and school will stand them in good stead to keep safe while out and about.

I pray for the safety of both my sons daily, not only that they would be physically safe and unharmed as they go about their day at school and at home, but also that they would be spiritually and emotionally protected, that they would guard their hearts and minds. The Bible says in Jeremiah 29:11 that God has plans to prosper us and not to harm us, plans to give us a hope and a future, so as Dave and I keep sowing the seeds of God’s word into our family life, I trust that this truth will prevail as my handsome boy’s become grown men and find their own way through this life.

Knowing how fast they grow up, this mommy is going to enjoy every precious moment with the undivided attention of my young charges, so that I can invest into their lives, influence them and help them to make good life choices as they enter manhood in the future, but in the meantime I am happy to stick to supervised park play dates and having friends round to stay.

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Faith, Parenting

Where does your report come from?

going to schoolSo we had our annual end of year school reports home this week. It hardly seems five minutes since our eldest started school!

I am pleased to say that ours was very good, although my son eyed me warily as tears (of pride) began to fall whilst I was reading it! He has come on in leaps and bounds over the past year which was his very first in formal education. I was quite overwhelmed by just how well the teachers knew my son, which sounds silly when you think that they spend each and every weekday with them for 40 weeks or so! I don’t think I fully realised or appreciated the lengths that teachers and teaching assistants go to in order to build relationships with and meet the needs of their pupils. I am one very thankful mama and I love that these special teachers have taken the time to know my son as well as I do.

Whilst reading the report, I was reminded of how much my school reports meant to me as a child. I was what you would call a very conscientious (read geeky) student who just loved to learn and loved to please. I was so desperate to make my teachers and parents proud of me, and their comments in my paper report had the power to enlarge or destroy my spirit. I would take negative comments and criticism so personally, and beat myself up over the smallest error such as a spelling mistake or an A- grade.

I have since learned that my top love language is words of affirmation (no surprise there then!). I have realised that words are weapons that can wield great power in my life and the lives of others. My careless comments or the whispered words of others can penetrate the very soul of a person, piercing their heart and causing irreparable damage that can last a lifetime.

I have often based my worth upon what people say about me, on what their report of me is. This can be so incredibly dangerous though, as our thoughts and opinions can be influenced my mood, tiredness, anxiety, illness or previous experiences rather than the truth. The best person to report on another is one that knows him inside and out. Perhaps this is why I was so surprised that my son’s teachers knew him so well, surely as his mother, the one who bore and raised him, both his father and I would be the only people to really know what makes him tick?

There are of course many things that a parent will know about their child better than a teacher (and vice versa in some cases!) and since becoming a Christian I have learned that the only person who could know be better than I know myself is my creator God. He knit me together in my mother’s womb, He watched me take my very first steps in this world, He leaned in when I learned to talk, and delighted in me when I started to discover my giftings. He was heartbroken at my tears when I sought love and acceptance through people and things that could never offer me what my heart craved. He was overjoyed when I found Jesus and gave my life to Him. He reassured me that He would never abandoned or betray me, but His love would envelope me, encourage me and equip me for the good report He had already written for my life.

I am still learning each and every day, and pray I will never cease to do so, but the difference in me since becoming a Christian is that I no longer look for the reports of others but for my report from God. I find my identity, my value and my worth in God’s word, not through comparing myself to others, grasping for worldy status and approval through achievements and material gain. I find my worth in the scriptures which declare

‘…I am fearfully and wonderfully made’. Psalm 139:13-15

‘ For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.’ Ephesians 2:10

‘For you are all children of God through faith in Christ Jesus’. Galatians 3:26

‘Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? And not one of them is forgotten before God. Why, even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not; you are of more value than many sparrows.’ Luke 12:6-7

‘Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.’ 2 Corinthians 5:17

‘I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me’ Philippians 4:13

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11

‘Let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect’. Romans 12:2

Yes it is good to please others, your parents, your boss, your friends or your spouse, but don’t rely upon a good report from them in order to know who you are and feel loved and valued. Find the glowing report created by your creator in the Bible, who states that you are His creation, His masterpiece, His treasure and let this truth transform you today.

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