They’re expensive. They give you stretch marks. They don’t come potty trained. They’re loud, messy, and sometimes, they don’t even like you.
So why do so many of us dream of having kids?
I’m one of those people who has always loved kids, always thought I wanted at least two or three (God does have a sense of humor…). My husband Mike thought kids were fine but wasn’t sure he wanted any living in his house. So we were a little stunned when seven months into our marriage, we discovered that we were going to be parents. There wasn’t any time to consider the ‘why’ of having kids. We would be spending our first anniversary going to Lamaze class. However you came to your season of parenting, taking a pause to think about the ‘why’ of parenting is a critical step in participating in the bigger picture.
When the days get tough, when the speech therapy co-pays come, when muddy foot prints and slamming doors make for the pattern of days, we need the connection to a bigger purpose in our parenting. It’s more than fulfilling a biological need, more than continuing the family name. Our ‘why ‘ is connected to an eternal plan and design. Our ‘why’ is the crazy grace of participating in something so much bigger and so much more expansive than seems possible while hunkered down in the laundry piles of daily life.
- We come to know a beautiful aspect of God, how He experiences His children, through raising our own. We learn a little more about the contours of His heart through having our own hearts opened wide to these kids who come into our lives. As I walk this path of parenting, the experience of loving my own kids has given me a broader understanding of how God loves us. Those moments where I feel like my heart will just burst with the adoration I feel for my children helps me see how even more expansive His love is for us. And when my kids have a hard time or when they are being disobedient, it gives me a window into compassion and concern God bears for us.
- We have the opportunity to learn to be selfless, to learn patience, to learn perseverance. We learn that our schedule comes second to the needs of a wailing baby, a teenager experiencing her first crush and needing to talk, a five year old put in at soccer goalie and wanting us in the cheering section. I always get a little tickled when I hear of someone telling how they will hyper-schedule their babies and life will continue as normal when their little ones are born. Babies and kids to some degree are supposed to come in like a whirlwind, scatter our routines to the floor, shake us up and remind us to rely on God. In the darkness of a sleepless night walking a colicky baby, in the heartache of trying to figure out how to comfort our second grader who’s feeling left out of a circle of friends, we better learn to put ourselves aside and lean into the wisdom and endurance that comes from God.
- We have the privilege through parenting to speak into the next generation. My husband’s grandmother had a funny saying when she thought someone was being insincere. She would say, “Oh, that’s from the teeth out.” She had picked up that saying from her mother, who, I assume, had gotten it from her mother. And now I say it on occasion. Our sayings, our habits, our way of looking at things take on greater significance in the light of knowing that our kids will carry many of those things forward. Knowing that I always have a sponge-like audience watching me has made me really evaluate what I say about life and faith and marriage and work and finances and friendship. When I hear something coming out of one of my kids’ mouths that is something they have heard me say, it reminds me about how deliberate and thoughtful I want to be in my communication. Is what I’m speaking today bringing insight and hope and wisdom into a future tomorrow? Because, like it or not, what we speak over ourselves and our lives does have a way of being carried forward into the next generation…even if it’s ‘from the teeth out’.
So what’s the ‘why’ behind our parenting? We come to know God better, we come to rely on Him more and we can become more deliberate to speak His truth over our lives and our kids. It’s bigger than just wanting to decorate a cute baby nursery and be the homeroom mom. It touches the eternal, this parenting business. And that truth gives dimension to every mundane task, every joy, every inconvenience, every fulfillment, every day.