Dear future self entrusted with the care of young, impressionable souls, you will most likely have forgotten how it felt to be young and immersed in the discovery of who you are and what you want. You will have forgotten your passionate cries of “I will never do [insert annoying trait] when I’m a mom!” This note is to remind you and keep you accountable.
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Remember that they are important. Whether they are three or thirty-three, their “No” is valid. Their “You’re hurting me” is valid. Their time, concerns, plans, emotions, thoughts, words, perspectives are all important. Let them be someone other than you.
You are to cultivate the soil and tend the fragile garden of their souls, then watch in wonderment as they begin to blossom and unfurl. You are not to tell them when and how to grow, and what kind of plant they need to be. Someone already decided that long before He gave them to you.
Learn to say “I’m sorry.” You aren’t perfect, and you never will be.
Remember that they are gifts. Before they became an overwhelming responsibility you had to deal with, they were given to you as gifts. Treasure them, and keep your grip loose.
Show them unconditional love. Rebuke them and discipline them, but do so while being emotionally present. Don’t withdraw from them simply because they broke their curfew or disagreed with your opinion. That’s conditional love. Actively love them even while you enforce consequences. Actively love them even when you disagree with them.
They pick up your habits, healthy or unhealthy. Spend time getting healthy – for you, for your husband, and for those precious souls who learn how to love from your example. Get healthy; see a counselor. It will probably help you realize that not everything they do is about you.
They don’t know what it’s like to be a mother, to nurture new life and have it rip your body and heart apart. But just because they aren’t there yet doesn’t mean they don’t value and appreciate who you are and all you do for them. They’re learning and changing and growing, but one thing is constant – they love you. Believe that. Trust that.
Balance your maternal urges to protect them from the world with the understanding that they need to make their own mistakes. You survived your own mistakes. Trust that they’re resilient enough to survive theirs.
Do things for them because you love doing things for them. Buy them gifts because you want to. Express your love in whatever form you choose, but never use those gifts as a guilt trip in the future. Love doesn’t come with a price tag. You either love them or you’re acting like you love them so you can get what you want from them. Love them.
They are your children, but they are also people. Treat them with dignity, respect, and honor, just like you’d treat anyone else. They are not dispensable, and they don’t exist to cater to your every whim, just like you don’t exist cater to their every whim.
If you let them teach you a few things, it might surprise you what mature, kind, God-honoring children you’ve raised. Celebrate that. And let go when the time comes to let go. They’ll be your babies forever, but acknowledge their adulthood when it is time and let them go. They’ve heard every word you’ve repeated over the years, and they will do you proud.