*Guest Post by Stephanie Thompson
*Originally published on Her View From Home
Upon giving birth to my first child, I was determined to be “that mom”-the one whose children would never fall prey to the sneaky dangers surrounding them. The phrase “My kids would never do THAT” found a place in my mind.
What is “THAT” exactly?
Electrical outlets? Covered (nevermind the fact that I once found a way to stick my finger in one as a toddler). Cords to the blinds? Well, we don’t have any. Toxic substances? Locked away in the childproof cabinets that I can’t even open sometimes. As a new parent, I scoured the lists for precautions to make sure my child would be safe. Of course there were some things that I didn’t worry about because in my mind, “What kid would really do that?”
Like plastic grocery bags? The ones that my child would never put over his head? Yet, in his state of natural human curiosity did it anyway?
Like toilet screw covers? Those small white caps that just happen to fit the size of a toddler’s mouth perfectly? In fact my daughter managed to fit one in her mouth (don’t go there) while I was in the bathroom getting ready to preach at church. As she looked up at me gagging, my instincts sprang into action. Fortunately, I noticed and quickly resolved the situation. And then it was on to leading worship an hour later.
Ahhh, the naivety of parenting. Actually, there is good reason for that.
We’ve never done it before.
A toaster comes with a manual.In fact, even a Happy Meal toy comes with one. But parenting? Nope.
Sure there are books out there to help. Social Media groups beckoning you to join their posse. Conversations with people who have “been there.” But, ultimately, there is nothing to prepare you for the moment by moment process for raising a human-one whose DNA is unique from any other. Add in family history, genetics, personality traits, lifestyle….and it is a learning experiment. We hope and pray for the best.
In a sense we all become “That Mom.” Most of us truly want what’s best for our kids. We become schooled in how to keep them safe; trying to keep a balance between not being concerned enough and being accused of being a helicopter parent (I’m afraid of heights so that probably wouldn’t describe me).
And just when you think you have prevented catastrophes, some other strange quirk pops up and catches you off guard.
Prolapsed rectum? Yep. Experienced that.
Body suddenly covered in hives? That too.
How about Teen onset Epilepsy? Mental illness? Cholesteatomas (I had to look that up too) in the ears leading to chronic ear infections and destroyed ear bones? Triple yes.
What we learn as we parent is that we can set our eyes on being the most competent parents ever, yet we are not in total control. That demands perfect people or robots.
The beauty is that God has trusted us with a most humbling responsibility. We get to participate in it while resting in the assurance that no matter what happens these are God’s children (Psalm 139:13-14, Jeremiah 1:5).
Upon leaving the hospital with my firstborn, I remember thinking, “They’re really going to let me take him home?”
There is nothing that can fully prepare you for this journey. And that’s O.K. Because this parenting thing isn’t all about us. We are partners with their Creator; the One who also created us and knows us intimately.
We will make mistakes. Unexpected circumstances are a given. You are not alone. In the words of a once popular song from a teen Disney Musical, “We’re all in this together.”
Guest Blogger Stephanie Thompson is an ordained pastor, speaker, writer and mental health advocate. She writes about sensing the voice of God and encountering the Holy Spirit in the midst of our everyday routines. In addition, the themes of parenting and mental illness find themselves woven into some of her posts. She is a member of the Redbud Writers’ Guild, and her pieces have appeared at Altarwork, Amity Coalition, Her View From Home, The Mighty, and Mudroomblog. Stephanie lives in the suburbs of Chicago with her husband and three teens. .
She blogs at http://stephaniejthompson.com/ and can be followed on Twitter @s2thomp and facebook: https://www.facebook.com/StephanieThompsonspeakerAndBlogger/ .