Lately I've been thinking a lot about raising children and the overwhelming importance of doing the job well. You can walk into any bookstore in the United States and stumble upon an entire shelving section dedicated to child rearing. You watch as frazzled parents walk up to the shelf in desperation, grasping for the titles that promise to bring relief from their parenting woes. No matter how much time a parents spends reading books about bringing up a healthy, socially adjusted, pleasant, well-behaved child, nothing guarantees that you won't end up with a monster.
I've often heard parents express how absolutely rewarding being a parent can be. I most frequently hear this sentence after one of my girlfriends with children has spent the first half hour of our afternoon together blowing off steam and relating tales of how she accidentally drank her son's urine (true story) or how she was kicked repeatedly in the shins by an toddler throwing a fit, or how she just doesn't sleep anymore. Ever. Once the mom has released her pent-up tension, she tends to throw in the above-mentioned sentence as a way to ease the guilt that has been steadily creeping into her conscience as she related the week's battle stories.
Despite my obvious fear of having horribly behaved, wild children, I am actually considering having my own. This comes as quite a shock to me (and also to my husband) since for the ten years leading up to my 30th birthday, I didn't think I wanted children. No, it was even more firm than that--I did not want to have children of my own. I even announced it to my mother. "Mother, I've decided I'm not going to have kids." without skipping a beat or even asking me why I had so firmly decided against reproducing, she simply stated, "O.K., well, you'll change your mind in a few years." I was irritated that she wasn't taking me seriously. So I responded more emphatically, "NO, I will NOT change my mind. I've been thinking about this for years now and I've decided I don't want kids. I DO NOT WANT KIDS." I think her initial answer might have been a cover so as to spare me from the tidal wave of Grandchild Desire that had been steadily rising within her since Terry and I began dating. But once I repeated myself, the wave came crashing down on me with passion. There were tears. And there were Bible verses--all of which I had heard many times before--that indicated that children were blessings from the Lord. And then she busted out the "Your father and I are entitled to a Godly heritage." And I busted out the "Kate and Brian can give you a Godly heritage." Silence. As a final resort, she wailed, "But it's not the same!" Yeah, I know. My kids would be cuter! Kidding, I'm kidding of course.
I stayed my course, and then my sister-in-law and brother-in-law had their son Landen. Shortly after Terry and I started dating, they became pregnant, so I've known him his entire existence. I simply adore him. And he loves me. When Terry tells people about how Landen loves me, he explains that I am Landen's. I am all his and when we visit, I am his property. This was made abundantly clear when Terry's brother and his wife had their second baby--a little girl. Whenever I hold Corrina or play with her, smile at her, talk to her, coo at her, I am suddently dive bombed by a little 2 and a half year old boy who is so green with envy he can't stand it. He will launch himself into my arms and get right in my face, nose to nose so that I can't help but look at anything, anyone but him. I have to admit that I love the attention. I love being the favorite. It has opened my eyes to the fact that children really are worth the sleepless nights and the 9 horribly uncomfortable months of pregnancy, the complete and total change--no, the upheaval in a parent's life after a child is born, the 18+ years of joys and sorrows and stress and endless reserves of the patience and love it takes to raise up a child and send them off into the world.
My mom was right. I would change my mind in a couple of years. Sometimes I wish she wasn't so ridiculously insightful. But that's part of why she makes such a great mom. If the Lord decides to bless us with children, I can only pray that He also gives me the same wisdom and insight He's given to my mom. I will do just fine as a mother if I'm anything like my mom.