There was a moment the weekend right before Christmas where I found myself cheering in a dark deserted parking lot on a chilly December night. I was cheering because my three year old was peeing in the bushes, outside and in the cold.
Really. I was rejoicing. This is something I’d never thought I’d be doing. Six years ago in my early parenting days, when my first son was about nine months old, my husband shared a story with me about a little boy peeing in the church parking lot and I said,
“I WILL NEVER let my son pee in a parking lot.” And I really believed myself. I was even reluctant to let my first son pee in the yard while we were potty training at two.
And there in December, I found myself applauding my three year old in the dark. I was so proud of him. This was same kind of pride I feel when one of my children take their first steps. Peeing outdoors has actually become an important milestone for me and after three sons, this “will never” along with many others has given me the opportunity to see myself unravel my wound up strings, breathe and let go of all those things I thought I’d never do as a parent.
A dear friend told me once, “parenting is actually for the parents” and I could not agree more. I can see how these little humans that I’ve carried, nursed, fed and cleaned up after are actually changing me more than I ever thought they would back at the beginning of the all the “will nevers”.
Parenting is for us. The parents. It’s funny how such tiny people have helped me grow and change. How these tiny people have helped me conquer fears, push the boundaries of who I thought I was and help me learn to love in ways I never thought I could.
I also said I will never let my kids watch Spongebob but when your stuck in a hotel room at 4pm on a rainy day with no Disney Junior you learn to let go on the tiny things that you think will corrupt your children’s tiny hearts and minds and you trust that God is bigger than Spongebob.
I said I will never own a toy gun back in those early days of being a new mom. My intentions were to raise boys that were not violent miscreants shooting everything and everyone they see. But looking back now I can see those intentions were ruled by fear and not trust. We now have multiple storage containers for weapons and nerf darts lodged into every couch cushion in our home. And so far- no violent miscreants.
I believe I may have uttered the words…
I will never let my children jump on the beds or the couch. Clearly I did not understand boys or children when this sentence came out of my mouth. This was also tangled up with the fear of my children getting hurt. I now actually sometimes encourage jumping on the couch and the beds, rejoicing when I hear them jumping and laughing and playing together the same way I was rejoicing when that little three year old was brave enough to pee outside in the cold.
I will never let my kids have formula. I am pretty sure I cried like a madwoman when the pediatrician told me my first son had lost too much weight and we had to supplement formula. The doctor’s eyes even bulged out a little at my overreaction. He wasn’t suggesting poison. Just formula. For supplemental purposes. And I was hyperventilating in my hospital bed uttering words of defeat, fear and remorse. When my fourth child was born I actually asked the nurse to give her formula our last two nights in the hospital so I could rest after having my fourth c-section. For supplemental and sanity purposes. All my kids have been nursed and given formula and despite my fears none of them has grown a third eye or eleventh toe… yet.
I will never teach my children the word MINE. I found myself correcting a friend a few years back when he was playing keep away with my infant son and using the four letter word, mine. “I don’t want him to know what that word is” is what I think I said. I felt like the word mine was the root of all selfishness. The word that in four letters can turn a sweet child into a monster. My desire was to teach my son that everything was given by a Great Giver and therefore help him learn to not use words which represented a heart of selfishness. But again, my good intentions were tangled up in fear and the unknown that a word does not produce a heart of selfishness. A heart of selfishness is naturally in all of us and selfishness will work it’s way into a home with or without the word mine.
I will never be able to survive parenting four young children, who happen to be within four years of one another. Look. It is true. Having little humans is tough. Tears on the floor, will I make it to nap time tough. I do not like to live in the unexpected. But having four kids so close together has taught me to learn to swim in unexpected waters. I am slowly learning to survive in the unexpected and learning to be comfortable when I can’t control every little thing happening around me. So far I am surviving. I haven’t lost anyone yet and everyone is still all in one piece. Things almost never go the way I planned them to go but I am learning to trust that God’s plans are greater than my plans. God is growing me and changing me, unraveling threads of fear and weaving new stronger threads of trusting in Him.
I am thankful when I find myself doing things I thought I said I would never do. It is there where I see growth. It is there where I see God making me into a better version of myself.
I never thought about parenting being for the parents. But it is. It changes you.You may even find yourself cheering for your children when they are peeing outside in the dark.
Hi, I’m Rachel. I became a follower of Christ one year before I found myself married to a man pursuing a seminary degree and on the road to become a pastor. That was nine years ago. We now have four kids, he is the head pastor of a PCA church in Mason, Ohio and I am figuring out how to be a mom, how to love my husband and how to trust God in the every day, one day at a time. I write stuff here and I try to keep it honest and encouraging as I have accomplishments and set backs. Follow this page on Facebook or add your email to the follow box on the right so we can stay in touch.