During my first few years of motherhood, I had this horrible fear that I was going to mess up my kid. I questioned everything from his diet to the laundry detergent we used to make sure we made the perfect decision.
Crazy, I know. Then he went through a phase where all he wanted to eat was noodles. Much to my horror, I was forced to reevaluate.
It wasn’t long before we had another boy and my oldest reached the age of “why.” Instead of me questioning everything, he did. We’d laid a foundation of Christ’s teachings in our home and taught him about kindness, forgiveness and helping others, but I worried he would soon question the things that mattered most.
I avoided talking about certain topics or biblical principles because I didn’t think I could explain it in a way he would understand. I tried to plan out conversations and make sure I knew all the answers, but we all know life doesn’t follow a script, right?
When my youngest son reached the toddler age, I realized we were dealing with a whole new set of challenges. He was headstrong and fearless, and although he hadn’t reached the age of “why” yet, he brought out behavior in my firstborn that I’d never seen before.
My normally gentle, calm-spirited kid became aggressive and mischievous.
As I watched other calm, well-mannered children at story time, I’d try to keep mine seated and swat their hands when they moved the felt characters on the storyboard.
One day when I was feeling particularly inadequate we were shopping for Christmas decorations. It also happened to be one of the busiest shopping days of the year: Black Friday. My husband and I explained how the stores might be crazy because people were shopping for gifts and told the boys to stay close.
Then, out of the blue, my husband asked our oldest if he thought gifts were the meaning of Christmas.
“No, Christmas is about celebrating Jesus’ birthday,” he said without hesitation.
Now, I realize what you might be thinking. You may think he was reciting what he’d heard or saying what he thought we wanted to hear. I know because I had the same doubts.
But what I’ve realized in this journey called motherhood is in the middle the doubt, the frustration the fear of the unknown, one of the best things we can do for our kids is show up.
Instead of going on autopilot or avoiding the hard conversation, I can be present. Instead of giving in to make life easier, I can stand firm in the decisions my husband and I make together.
And when we do these things, I can listen to my son tell us the true meaning of Christmas and know he’s speaking from the heart. I can have confidence that the Spirit of the living God is working in him and through me to form the man he will one day become.
Sometimes all it takes is showing up to show my kids what matters most.
And despite all my mistakes and wondering if we’re doing it all right, they surprise me when I least expect it.