When I held my first baby in my arms, looked in his shriveled red face and felt his tiny fingers wrap around mine, I cried with joy (and probably with wacko pregnancy hormones too!). Even though I trembled with nervousness when I placed his swaddled body in the car seat for the trip home, I was excited for the new adventure that lay ahead.
Five children and eighteen years later, I can look back and say the adventure was definitely not what I expected. Not in the least. In fact, sometimes I wonder if I’d known then what I know now about parenting, would I have been so eager to jump into motherhood and begin the ride?
What if I’d known then that my twin daughters would be born premature, at nine weeks early weighing only three pounds each? What if I’d known that after giving birth, that my heart would be broken having to leave them in the NICU every day for an entire month?
What if I’d known that I’d experience three miscarriages, two of them resulting in having to be admitted to the hospital for DNC’s?
What if I’d realized that I would have colicky babies, sleepless nights, hundreds of diapers to change, vomit on sofas (and carpet and beds), scraped knees, sibling squabbles, snotty noses to wipe, breathing treatments to give, and hurt feelings to soothe?
What if I’d known what a challenge it was to train my children in character, what a battle it would be to teach my children how to be respectful, modest, sacrificial, polite, and giving in a world that increasingly devalues those traits?
What if I’d known I wouldn’t be able to avoid problems during the teenage years? (Yes, I was like every other naive parent, believing I’d somehow be the exception and have perfectly happy, respectful, and angelic teens). What if I’d realized I’d have a child reject me and turn away from my values?
What if I’d thought about the dangers my children would face in the world around us—the rise of cancer and other diseases, the threats of economic and political collapse, the danger from terrorists, and more. What if I’d thought about what kind of world they’ll be left with someday?
What if I’d known that I’d have a child who would need twenty-four stitches in her leg after gouging it open while climbing a tree? What if that same child got her front adult tooth knocked out while swimming? And what if that exact same child broke three bones in her hand in a youth group race, had to have surgery, and now has seven pieces of metal in her hand? (Yes, this just happened last week!)
I wouldn’t have guessed that the trusting, tender baby hand would turn into a broken, battered one. I wouldn’t have guessed that as a mom I would have to endure the pain of my children over and over again. For the rest of my life.
Before having children, if I’d had a magic mirror and had been able to look into the future, I’m not sure that I would have had the courage to become a mom.
I’ve realized that it’s a gift NOT to know the future. What we would see might make us too afraid to embrace the present. Already, it’s all too easy to spend our days worrying about what the future will bring, especially since we live in such uncertain times when calamity seems to be waiting just around the corner.
If the past has taught me anything it’s that more problems are sure to come my way. My children will get hurt. And when they hurt, my heart will break. Every. Single. Time. I’ll have to continue to develop more courage than I’d ever thought I’d need.
Instead of worrying, I want to become better at living in the present, seeing the joy in each day that I have with the five precious gifts I’ve been given. I want to make the most of the time we have together. Because the fact is, all we’re guaranteed of getting is the present moment.
“Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life . . . For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Luke 12:25
Worrying won’t make future problems go away. All it has the potential to do is tarnish the treasure that we currently have.
What about you? What’s the most courageous thing you’ve had to face as a mom (or that you’ve seen your mother face)?
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