Thirty-five years ago my husband and I had our first baby, a precious daughter we named Kristin. Over the next 17 years, we had seven more children, each one as precious and unique as the other. Now our family of ten has multiplied to 22 and counting.
Over the last three weeks, we have spent time with all 22. In fact, for one of those weekends, we hosted all 22 at once!
One son and his family of five came in for three weeks between assignments from one side of the world to the other. (Which is why all the others gathered. It had been a year since we saw them last.)
Our three-week-long reunion-party was great. I loved watching how all eight of our children love each other and get along so well. I loved watching our grandchildren from the different families interact with each other. With all nine of them ages eight and under, it was quite the crazy time!
It will be several years before we’re all together again.
But that’s OK.
My husband’s and my goal all along has never been to hold on to our children, but to raise them to mature, responsible adulthood and send them.
So, after partying it up for the last several weeks, here I am sitting at my desk writing in my extremely quiet house.
One major thought keeps returning:
I am so glad that I LOVED our children.
Of course, I love them now; what’s not to love, they are all wonderful. But I am glad I LOVED them back then.
Loving our children back then, when they were babies and toddlers and children and teenagers, was my pleasure. When I think of who I am – never a gaga-over-babies-sort or even a person who liked children – I overflow with gratitude toward God for allowing me the privilege of children and giving me the heart and ability to love them.
And love them I did. (And still do.)
Years’ worth of my mornings were spent cuddling on the couch. I remember the feeling of the youngest child’s warm, soggy, diapered bottom on my lap, and children on either side of us, all waking up to a happy new day. (So I would always tell them, anyway.) Many times I was tempted with all there was to do to get the day started. I am thankful for the many times I did not trade that precious time for an urgent-seeming household task.
I was available to them day in and day out, an opportunity afforded to me by my provider-husband and homeschooling. I loved being there for them. For when they scraped their knee to when they shared their thoughts with me.
I am glad that I was nice to them. And that when I wasn’t, I apologized.
It felt like discipline, training, and teaching consumed my days. I am glad that we taught them to think for themselves; not like anyone else, not even us, but for themselves.
I made friends with them. And we are friends to this day.
I was there to meet their needs, and when they got older I was there to teach them how to meet their own needs.
For any encouragement, support, and acceptance they received from me, I am grateful.
I am thankful to have had the privilege of introducing them to Jesus Christ.
What does a mother’s love look like and what does her job entail? That’s it. Those are the things love is made of.
And what is it that produces the security one needs to become a mature and responsible adult?
It is not the perfect curriculum.
It’s just those things. Plain and simple.
So if you’re worried today about which curriculum is best, or losing “school days” due to sickness, or whatever else, I can tell you that those are not the things that will matter to you later.
But those daily little things of cuddles, availability, kindness, discipline, training, teaching, making friends, meeting needs, encouragement, support, and acceptance.
Turns out those little things are giant enough to create secure, mature and responsible adults.
The next thing you know, you see them pouring those same things into their own children.
And life is good.