- Back to school time has arrived and all around we see advertisers reminding us that school is in session. The stores are sure to let us know the need for the latest fashions, shoes, and back packs. The food industry is carting out their lunch box necessities and snack packs. And throughout the nation, there seems to resonate one long groan from parents that cannot wait for their kids to get back to school, because “they have been driving them insane this summer.”
- That’s right. Kids all around the nation have been driving their parents loony with demands of entertainment, bickering, boredom, and loudness. I can say this because sure, this totally happens at my house. The girls, though perfectly capable of coming up with a game, building a lego house, reading a book, or crafting an art project, have instead, many a time, decided that fighting was a better option. And if that didn’t work, then surround mom with demand after demand. My tendency is to get annoyed, but is that the right reaction?
- Once again the culture has dictated how we should feel. They tell us we should rejoice in the fact that our children will be out of our presence for 8+ hours a day. Society pressures us to wave the white flag of defeat, because there’s no way we as parents can tolerate these little beings for more than a couple months out of the year full time. The world applauds our rolling eyes, huffs, and count downs to the day school begins. If we try to resist, they remind us on snack packs, displaying pictures of moms jumping up in the air as the kids miserably look out the school bus window with a trail of dust behind them. Memes are created every summer to be spread throughout social media and make us parents laugh at the thought that other parents are “suffering” just a few more weeks with them until the glorious day the bell rings that class is in session.
- Have we missed the boat? Have we lost our vision as parents and guardians?
- This is not a debate on public school/private school versus homeschooling. I fully support parents who choose to send their children to an organized institution. I also fully support those parents that choose to keep their child at home for school. There are no right or wrong answers when it comes to education. For each family, they must decide and embrace where God wants their family to be in each and every stage of life. My life is littered with the most incredible educators that teach in the public, private, and home arenas. I endorse those that can grasp the heart of a child and get them excited about learning, help grab hold of moral character, and care enough for our future to aid leading them to the next stage in life. So again, this is not a debate.
- What this is, is a plea to remember what parenting is.
- There is not a single phase, place, or time in the life of a parent that is not a calling to give and get nothing in return.
- Beginning with the physical price that a mother’s body pays just to bring this child into the world brings one to their knees, literally at times. The stretchmarks, sore everything, tired body, and in the end, great pain to birth their child is the definition of a self-sacrifice. Those who have not birthed their child but are called “Mom” and “Dad” just the same, agonized in other ways. The waiting, emotions, and stops and go-s are just as great of a toll as the actual act of childbirth. Both have tears, sweat, and blood mingled together with just one goal in mind: becoming a parent.
- Yielding to a child’s needs and wants does not end there. As they grow, we tirelessly strive to teach, nurture, and feed, spiritually, emotionally, and physically, the best we know how. From the stage of “the whys” in the toddler years, to the endless groin shots that a dad must take, (with a smile at that). Then there are the school age years that bring less of the physical needs in the forefront but many more of the emotional needs. Starting school, making friends, long talks and lessons about the ways of life outside of our family. Soccer games, science projects, and hours of listening to them read all add up to giving up more hours of time that we sometimes wish were spent on our own activities and hobbies.
- I won’t add to the teenage list from the perspective of parent, since I cannot even begin to know what sacrifice it takes to raise a teen. I know when I was one, there were crying sessions, attitudes, cute boys, mean boys, interested boys, and interesting boys, all which included time in which a parent would need to take to help me muddle things out and guide me in making wise choices, which I didn’t always do in the end.
- We get it though, right? Parenting is a very simple mathematical equation. Mother/Father plus child equals giving to infinity. Or at least it should be. I am not talking over indulgence here. I am talking discipline, nurturing, and love. But we of course fail, me being at the top of the list. I get annoyed, snippy, and on edge simply because my agenda was interrupted by THEIR needs. My selfishness rises up and I oft times opt to snuff them out rather than raise them up.
- Once again, our only option in trying to find out what we should be doing as parents is to look at our greatest example, God the Father. Can you imagine Christ, agonizing in the Garden of Gethsemane, pouring out his heart in sorrow and pain as he faced a soon to be death and separation from the Lord? What if the Father sighed and said something like, “Jesus, we have been over this. I chose this for you, so you need to deal with it. I’m busy right now listening to my angels sing. Just do what I asked.” I can’t envision Him doing that. Instead, He listened and sent comfort. He ached to have His Son leave His presence, even for a short time, so that the sins of the world would be saved. Sure, you could debate that His Son was perfect, while ours… well, are not. But the point is still the same. The Father gave.
- The same truth remains and that is that parenting is a sacrifice. We must give so that our child feels loved, secure, full, safe, and wanted. If a child does not have that, then what do they have? A snotty nose? A dirty diaper? An emptiness, waiting to be filled? But with the sacrifices of a parent, the love of another, they have a chance in this world.
- We as parents must love our children more than we love ourselves, because that IS the definition of love. That is who God is, what He resonates to us, and the example He leaves for us to carry on.
- So as the school year begins and your kids step onto the bus, to the desk, or walk down the road, remember, this time is very short. Our life is but a vapor, and I cannot speak for you, but for me, I desire these twenty or so short years to be FULL of love and sacrifice for my kids. Not because they deserve it. Not because they earned it. And not because they are more special than anyone else’s kids. Only for the simple truth that what was given to me, I wish to give it in return, whether in a late night chat, a kiss on the knee, or simply putting down my phone and looking them in the eyes, letting them know that I love them.