My dad used to constantly tell me, “I may not always agree with your decisions, but I’ll always be here for you & I’ll still love you no matter what happens.” Now that I am a parent of three children with distinctly different personalities, I realize how brave – how EXTREMELY BRAVE – that was. At the heart of that statement, I now know, was a bold faith. He was confident in his faith that I was intelligent & would choose wisely. I didn’t always make the right decisions but I’m alright – educated, happy and content – & I think he always had faith that I would be. How in the WORLD he kept this unwavering faith in me through the early teen years is beyond me. Jack Daniels, maybe? I love my three with the deepest emotion and intensity that one can muster. Somewhere, buried in my heart, I know that same faith exists. In those moments when they are just TRYING the last vestige of patience that is hiding in a remote corner of my soul by not turning in homework, forgetting tests, or talking back, I long to have been given some sort of warning when they were born. “This one’s a Level 5! Take cover! In a therapist’s office, if possible!” or “This one, a level 2, will cause some waves, but you will easily ride it out.” Something….anything…. I often tell people if I ever host another baby shower I will order a cake that says, “Get ready. Your life is about to be turned completely upside down & any confidence you had in your ability to lead will be shattered. But CONGRATULATIONS!” Had I been warned, instead of childproofing with cute outlet plugs I would have barred the windows, intensely researched the best therapist instead of pediatrician and had a locksmith put locks on the OUTSIDE of their doors. (Kidding……sort of.) I made it through these stages with my firstborn, a spirited, outgoing, FUNNY, beautiful daughter. In college now, she amazes me all the time. She is someday going to be living on her own, continuing to make me proud & we will barely remember we had to wrap our arms around her tightly in the car to keep her screaming, writhing self from jumping out the door of our 95 Geo Prizm on the way to school because the socks she wanted were not clean. The drama that ensued when her dad lost her Halloween wig right before Halloween night rolled around will be but a distant memory. When you’re opening that Diaper Genie you considered essential and smiling between bites of cake, no one will tell you how hard it is, but you too will survive.
We are left with two boys at home. They are REALLY making me question where my dad found that faith. He tells me they’ll be fine. Not only did he have faith in me, but he has it in my kids. He is the epitome of unconditional love & has never expected them to be anything more than what they are. That’s a fine example to have and I struggle daily to live up to it. When one of my kids forgets to turn in a 50 pt. assignment, or gets a speeding ticket, or comes home with one shoe because the other had been taped to his locker by the teacher & he just didn’t notice it, I usually hang my head in prayer. “God, help me.” I now understand why my grandma, who I grew up with, would look at the sky sometimes & simply say, “Strength.” It used to seem odd to me but I get it now. Oh, Lord, do I get it!
“Strength! (looking skyward) Strength! And if possible, a little faith. And thanks.”