“Should we even have kids?” It was an unspoken question reverberating around the room amongst the newlyweds in our marriage group during a recent gathering. It seemed as though they were pondering this as those of us with young kids were discussing the challenges of prioritizing our marriage when you’re “in the thick of it” raising children. One newlywed couple chimed in with, “Maybe we should wait a few more years,” to which there was a chorus of chuckles from the veteran parents in the room.
A deep pang in my heart developed as the conversation continued. The cry of my heart came out as something like, “Yes, of course you should have kids! Children are a blessing from the Lord!”
I realize not everyone is like me. I came out of my mother’s womb knowing I wanted to be a mother some day. The idea came as naturally as breathing. My only interest as a child was playing Mommy to my many dolls. So while I never questioned whether I would have children or not some day, I understand that for some, this is a big question mark. I do not intend for this piece to in any way exclude anyone who chooses not to have children, or perhaps cannot have children. Many without biological children invest in the lives of spiritual sons and daughters, which is an extremely important gift to the Body of Christ. And of course there is the beautiful choice to adopt, which blesses many families, and mirrors what God does for us (Ephesians 1:5).
These are simply thoughts from my own experiences raising children, which I hope will encourage those who are yet to have kids, those raising spiritual sons and daughters, and those like me, who are currently “in the thick of it” raising kids (biological or adopted)- may these words boost your cherishing of children.
At about 18 months old, my son Luke would pick a dandelion every time we went on a walk. As he looked up at me with a huge grin, and extended the flower from his tiny hand for me to receive, he would proudly exclaim, “Flabber you you!” Translation: “Flower for you!”
To say my heart would melt each time this occurred would be an understatement.
I had a hard time understanding how parents could spend countless hours watching their children play game after game of whatever sport their child was into before I had kids myself. I mean, don’t you ever get tired of watching soccer games and just want to go do something else? Now, I understand. There is something so rewarding about watching your child enjoy a sport and being there to cheer them on. I also treasure the fact that they want me there cheering them on. Like the plot of a good movie unfolding, it’s enjoyable to see as they get older, the sports they are naturally drawn to or excel at as it often corresponds to their personality type and temperament. Oftentimes sports help you learn things about your kids you may not have noticed otherwise. We are a family of skiers, but my sons compete in very different disciplines. One is a Nordic Combined skier (ski jumping and x-country skiing), and the other is a freestyle skier. These interests fit their personalities perfectly- one is more competitive and likes exact scores and knowing precisely where he stands in the rankings, the other enjoys the subjective nature of being judged on style and creativity. Both disciplines involve catching a lot of air!
Kids are constantly changing. As one particular Raffi song explains, “Everything Grows!” Flowers, hair, nails, people, etc. As kids change, parents must change too. Parenting continually brings me to my knees in prayer, and reminds me how little control I have, but how much total control God has in the outcome. Being in this place constantly forces me to change as God molds and shapes me into the person He wants me to be. Kids force us to change. We need to provide for them, so we grow professionally. We have to adapt to their changing needs, so we learn new things and grow personally. When God asked me to be a stay-at-home-mom, this brought us to our knees in prayer for a new job for my husband. That need to provide for his family led to my husband taking huge risks professionally. That growth led him to discovering gifts and talents he never would have otherwise known he had.
How often do you think about the people in your family who came before you? How about the people who come after you? It’s not something most of us spend a whole lot of time thinking about. It’s as if our minds can only handle what’s right in front of us, right? “Is dinner burning?” “I need to change that stinky diaper.” “My toenails sure could use a clipping.” As people of the “microwave” culture especially, we get distracted by shiny things and rarely ponder the influences of the generations before us, and the influence we want to have on those who continue our lineage. However, both are extremely important. In both the Old and New Testaments, you can find long lines of lineage recorded. Having children is revered and celebrated, and barrenness was one of the worst things that could happen to a woman. No matter what your family line, as a born-again believer in Jesus, we can through our new blood line in Christ, be set free from sins or tendencies that may be in our biological family. We also have the ability to pass on a new, Godly heritage that will bless our future generations. (Exodus 20:5-6), (2 Corinthians 5:17). As I age, I look forward to the companionship I will have not only with my husband, but also our adult children, grandchildren, and hopefully great-grandchildren.
My youngest child is typically the first one up in the morning. There’s nothing quite as precious as a child crawling onto your lap right after they wake up. Messy bed head, cozy pajamas, stinky kid breath, and usually a blankie or stuffie to complete the picture. For me, it’s like getting to re-create the first time I held her the day she was born. She gets a little bigger each day, but that connection only grows deeper and stronger. “I love you because you are mine” are words I often say to her (and her brothers). I don’t love you because of what you do, or don’t do. You don’t have to perform or strive for my love. I love you because you are mine. I know a day is coming when these snuggles will become more infrequent. So for now, I will hold on for a few more moments, a few more butterfly kisses, and a few more smooshing my face into hers.
“Children are a heritage from the Lord, offspring a reward from him. Like arrows in the hands of a warrior, are children born in one’s youth. Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them.” Psalm 127: 3-5
I am a child of God, a wife to Seth, and a mother to James, Luke, and Eva. The Apostle Paul writes in his letter to the Corinthians, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new” (2 Corinthians 5:17). I became a “new creation” at the age of 23 when I surrendered my life to Jesus and was delivered from a decade of depression. Read more...