Babies are easy. OK, they are not "easy" what with all the pooping, late night feedings and bouts of incessant screaming. But in retrospect, taking care of a baby is essentially about meeting physical needs- the bonding and emotional warmth are usually a part of meeting those primary needs. But as they get older, children need more and more emotional and intellectual interaction.
As my oldest has begun talking (and even arguing) with me, I am more aware of just how in-over-my-head I am as a parent. I feel like recently I've been panicking a little- suddenly wondering if I'm getting the important things through to my 3 year old, and at the right pace. Let's start with discipline- Did I wait too long to have her start cleaning up her toys or bring her plate to the counter? Am I being too harsh when she (preschooler that she is) gets distracted easily or decides to stop for 10 seconds EVERY time we go through a doorway (especially when I am carrying 40 things)? Should I stop giving her a little help getting dressed and succumb to officially being late to everything?
Then there is education- She started preschool and LOVES it. But she comes home knowing new things that I didn't teach her and I begin to wonder- am I teaching her enough at home? Today in the car I asked her what state we live in. She said, "The United States"! I said, "that's our country but what state?" Nothing. "Nana lives in Alabama and we live in..." Silence. So I thought I'd start her off, "We live in Conn..."
"Canoers!" She said excitedly! Oh boy.
But mostly I've begun to wonder if I'm setting her up with a good spiritual foundation. Christmas came and went and I wondered how much emphasis I put on Jesus- even if I know she has heard the "Christmas" story many times. And occasionally she'll say or do things that make me question what kind of theology she is picking up from us. She used to love to pray at meal time, and now she refuses to (which we don't force). She also told me once that Luke was too young to pray to God. And today, she said she was talking to God and I got all excited- when I asked her what she was talking to him about she basically said, "I'm talking to him about you telling me to go out of the closet."
Then the other day after watching a TV show with dinosaurs, she mentioned she thought there was one under her bed and I assured her that there are no more dinosaurs alive to be lurking under her bed. So then she asked, "Did the dinosaurs die on the cross like Jesus?" I don't know exactly what I'm supposed to do with that- except for try really hard not to laugh.
Ultimately though- I'm not so much worried about what I am saying or not saying to her, but how I am living my life. Because I look back on my childhood and all the "good" habits that my parents got us into, like praying before meals or watching Veggie Tales or reading Bible stories- Even those good things don't always pan out the way we want anyway- I know we used to fight over who got to pray over meals, and I have laughed to myself hearing kids pray things like "God please help my sister to start sharing her toys and stop whining". And there is only so much theology you can get from singing vegetables- I mean, Esther wasn't a beautiful asparagus people.
But even when those habits are helpful, I don't think they would have mattered much to me if I didn't see evidence of God in the way my parents lived their faith. Life wasn't always easy, but that didn't keep them from following- God lead them to move multiple states away on at least 3 occasions- and they've never stopped following. They have not always had much money, or friends and family nearby- but they still followed God. I pray that no matter what happens to my kids they grow up to know the love of God in their lives and to fully follow Him. And I pray that, like my parents, my actions first- and words second, would help my children understand why I choose to believe in and follow God for myself.
Labels: Family, Motherhood, Questioning