Today was a big day. Today, we hit a new parenting milestone with Nayeli. Today trusting God with my kid really became a thing.
Usually you see these “milestones” coming before they hit. You prepare for months for your baby’s first birthday or your child’s first day of school. This stuff is a pretty big deal, so it’s definitely on your radar. You take the time to buy supplies, plan parties, write dates on your huge ugly mom calendar that takes up half of the fridge. And then it comes, and you are as mentally and emotionally prepared as you can be to see your baby, your little tiny dependent baby, get on the freaking bus. You are
huddled in a corner sobbing into your napkin cheering and celebrating along with your closest friends and family as your baby smashes sugar riddled cake and frosting into their mouth for the FIRST time (because none of us have dared to give our kids processed sugar before they turn one, right?).
But today was not a day I was prepared for, today I got sucker punched in the gut. For a lot of people, this may not have even been a big deal, but for me? Well, I was JUST.NOT.READY.
Nayeli started her first ever NON-parented class this morning. Today I had to take her somewhere, and rather than help her swim or help her do gymnastics or help her make art, I had to walk away and watch from an observation area while someone else that I don’t know, was responsible for my child. In deep water. Take my breath away!
Normally I have these sorts of things in the back of my mind way ahead of time. I’ve gone through the mental scenarios and feel fairly peaceful and comfortable with the situation in advance. But today, I woke up blissfully unaware of what was about to go down. I made a big saturday morning breakfast for everyone with ample time to eat before we had to be out of the house with two kids and a papa ready for swimming by 8:30.
This was huge for me by the way. Full disclosure, I probably have to make coffee for myself about once a month, if even. And even more disclosure, I probably have my coffee brought to me while still in bed at LEAST a couple times a week. I know! Spoiled rotten. I’m aware.
So today I had breakfast waiting and the kids eating by the time Teunis emerged groggily from the bedroom. Such a victory! We all ate our food, got dressed and bundled up and were pulling out of the driveway with one minute to spare. The sky was so blue this morning, the snow covering everything was sparkling, Adventures in Odyssey was so…blissfully nostalgic, everything was perfect.
When we arrived at the pool, Teunis and Jude went off to the parent and tot class while I took Nayeli to her class meeting point. I put on her lifejacket, adjusted her adorable little swim cap, reminded her to listen to her teacher, said I was proud of her and I loved her and then walked away.
Parents have to watch from a viewing area looking down to the pool that is separated with glass (INCREDIBLY LAME!!!!!). So there I was, standing with my friend Kelly, as Nayeli’s lesson started. For a couple of minutes I watched her with a beaming smile on my face as she followed her teachers lead. Pride welled up in my heart as she kicked her legs and jumped off the edge and then eventually let herself be turned on her BACK (not cool in Nayeli land) and floated around by her teacher. Then it happened, her teacher sort of floated her back towards the edge of the pool, gave her a little push and left her to reach the last few
METERS inches herself. As she grabbed onto the edge and pulled herself up out of the water BY HERSELF!!!! I lost it.
There it was, my baby girl, totally able to drag herself out of a swimming pool all on her own. On one hand I was so amazed and in awe of her beautiful independent spirit, her fearlesness. And on the other hand, it was like the next 15 years flashed before my eyes and I could see her waving goodbye to me as she did something all crazy town, like driving herself to college or something. Leaving the mommy nest (because that’s a thing with us when she’s sad or unsure)
I really did try to hold it together. But ya, that never really works for me. So the tears came, and sweet Kelly rubbed my back a little and said “Oh Feleesh” which was comforting (and I really hope I can do the same for you one day Kel, when E is leading her soccer team to a provincial championship or taking the lead in Swan Lake or having our first grandchild. Haha!).
This post is not just about swimming and growing up for me. Today it really hit home that we are moving out of the sleep, eat, poop, learn basic skills phase, like, for legit. And we are now (have been for awhile, but TODAY it got so real) walking into this sacred holy ground territory of gently guiding a child into a life long relationship and love for the Lord that runs DEEP and true and is theirs.
A few days ago I posted a link to this short message that Jen Hatmaker shared about raising disciples. In her message she talks about how we often think “we can ultimately guarantee in some way that our kids turn out great if we can control all the factors” which is humanly impossible anyways. It’s controlling and freakish and just plain looney faced.
I know for Teunis and I, it is our HEARTS DESIRE that our children grow into adults who love God truly, who place their hope in the gospel, who live a life of passion and purpose, whatever that looks like, in partnership with the Lord.
But we can’t MAKE that happen. We can pray and nurture and teach and guide our kids into that precious, lasting relationship with God. In the end though, we need to SHOW them who Jesus is, do life with him. Telling them is not enough.
For me, I often let the busyness of kids gets in the way of even just spending intentional, quality time with my friends, let alone making a difference in the lives of the poor, the marginalized, those with serious needs, my neighbours, you know, the people that Jesus really wants to be with.
So I have to look at this, what is more important for my kids in the long run? That I get them in a million awesome activities that give them all kinds of future opportunities in life and COMPLETELY take over our schedule? Or that we as a family take the time to serve those that Jesus calls us to? That we take our kids into the places where Jesus wants us to be His hands and feet and love? Holy convicting! For me.
Friends, how have you found balance in this area for your family? What advice do you parents with older kids have for those of us just entering into these waters?