Friday, December 12, 2008
DONE WITH PARENTING by C.J. Chatham
Today, I cease parenting.
I mean it. I am finished with all the how-to's, the tips and tricks, the continual praying and begging and pleading for answers in how to raise these children, these teenagers, these young adults.
I no longer want to examine my motives, discuss my authority, or scour my mind to all its nooks and crannies looking for an appropriate consequence to some misdeed.
No more will I run through every incident in my brain with the question, "What do I do now?" And no longer will I even glance at the question, "What will they think of me when they grow up?" I will no longer lay awake in bed--for hours--tormented by wondering if they have heeded my instruction.
Pray for them? Yes. Of course. Always and forever. But my responsibility--that tremendous backpack overloaded with efforts to equip them enough, teach them enough, talk with them enough, pray for them enough--that overweight backpack has slipped from my shoulders and thudded to the ground.
My own journey is enough. I want to walk upright beside my loved ones. I want both hands free to walk with them hand in hand. And I will no longer parent.
Instead, I will love.
Oh, surely, these are the same.
No, they are not.
Parenting has been my role, my position, and my privilege. It has been my office, my calling, my goal.
But it is not who I am. And, now, it is no longer what I do.
If I were to read all there was to read on parenting, I would still not feel equipped. Not to say that books, professionals, seminars, and classes are not invaluable resources in an area where I feel woefully ignorant and inadequate.
But my constant searching for "What to do when...? What to do if...? Why won't they ever...? And when will they be...?" is hereby declared over and done.
One Book. One Guide. And He is constant and ever present.
I am commanded to love the Lord my God with all my heart soul, mind, and strength. And I do. I worship, I thank, and I see Him with all that I have.
But now I will love my neighbor as myself. And that includes our children.
I have so much to do. In the earthly realm, I am responsible for earthly things--our home, our yards, our meals, our clothes, our money, our schedule. But, really, God has told me to do only two things.
So now, when our daughter looks at me and absentmindedly asks a question, I choose to look at her with all that I have, and I listen. I don't have the answers to her ten-year-old troubles--I really don't. But I love her. And so I listen, not only with my ears but now also with my heart.
As our fourteen-year-old son delays his coming home late into the night, I, through love, look at him and know he is developing a habit that will hurt him. I will love him as I love myself, and be more concerned with teaching him to pace himself through the day to get adequate rest than to throw all my attention to his disobedience and defiance.
Love will pray. And love will wait for the answer.
Parenting defines and describes only a portion of my actions in relation to our children. Loving surrounds them. Loving goes beyond definition. Loving is looking at each child, each day, each instance, and giving my full attention. I will "tend" to them, sincerely and earnestly.
Loving will take time.
Loving will alter my schedule.
Loving will slow me down.
Yes, it will.
So be it.