Crafting a Childhood
As a mama of a busy 18 month old and another baby on the way, I’ve found myself thinking a lot about the idea of childhood lately. Isn’t it funny how, when you are in the midst of your own childhood, you don’t think about or understand that the universe you live in could look any different? All you know is what is set before you. The ideas, the experiences, the environment your parent/care giver surrounds you with…that’s it. Those very circumstances shape your childhood and thus the person you come to meet in adulthood. Yes, we can analyze our pasts, understand the ‘why’s’ and the hurts, but our childhood is something that is forever cemented the way it was…for the good and the bad.
I am finding that in parenting, despite my best efforts and years of healing from my own childhood hurts, my gut reaction/instinct when responding to my daughter is quite similar to what was modeled for me as a child. In the deepest part of my mind and memory, these reactions are engrained and seem to bubble to the surface in my moments of frustration and weakness. My childhood had many pockets of positivity, but I would categorize it mainly by the word ‘fear’. Home was not a place of emotional safety and I was taught to fear the world and, to some extent, my own abilities. God has been very good to me in that as I grow in relationship with Him, so does my confidence and understanding of myself and my past. But, no matter how much healing happens, the fact remains that my childhood will forever be marked by the feelings of deep fear.
So naturally when it comes to my own parenting, I ask myself questions like these:
How can I create a home that is filled, not with fear, but with peace?
How can I shape my children’s childhoods in such a way they leave the nest with just the right mixture of humility and confidence?
What does it look like to balance discipline with love?
When do I allow my child to be free to make a mistake and when do I try to protect them?
All of these questions have been swirling in my mind lately, mainly because I find myself messing up a lot. My patience runs thin and I snap at Flora, who, at 18 months old does not have the capacity to understand what I, a 26 year old, can. Really the immaturity comes on my part for having such ridiculous expectations of her. I also see how God is shining light on my selfishness, my need to do things my own way, and how my expectations are not in line with His most of the time. Simultaneously, as I am seeing more of myself and the brokenness of my childhood, I have become desperately fearful that I will leave deep wounds on my children, similar to my very own. Will I continue the cycle of fear, or lean on my Prince of Peace?
As I seek for an answer, a solution, an equation to plug in…I find myself coming up empty. Then the Lord speaks and tells me I.just.need.Him. The more time I spend with Him, the more like Him I become, and He is, after all, the perfect parent. The perfect Heavenly Father who knows how to execute justice and mercy and discipline and grace simultaneously. He can continue to heal my past while holding my hand and guiding my future, my children’s futures. The pressure to perfectly author my baby’s lives is suddenly lifted when I choose to put the focus not on my own deeds, but on the greatest example set before me.
I will continue to pray for guidance and help as a parent. Oh Lord, how I need it. I need him every moment. Nothing has shown me my desperate need for a Savior more than parenting a toddler.
I know I won’t always get it right and inevitably my children will walk away with scars. But my prayer is that, hopefully, none of those scars are too deep, none of the wounds are beyond repair, and that mainly they can come into adulthood knowing how very much they are loved by their earthy and heavily parent.