2015 is in the books. Just when I got used to writing 2015 in my checkbook, it will be 2016.
It’s that time of year when many begin to reflect on the year and on life…and I am no different, I guess. I’ve never been big on making New Year resolutions. Why make a resolution when I know deep down just because I “make” one doesn’t mean I’ll keep it.
It goes without saying that life moves fast. The phrase the “days are long but the years are short” is just plain truth to me. But 15 years ago, I didn’t think that was the case.
The days when I had three children under the age of five were L-O-N-G. Fun…but long. I remember my mom always saying “Julie and the little ones” when she referred to me and my children. It’s like I was mother goose with three goslings following me around all the time (yes, I had to look up the word for baby geese). And somehow everyone was staying the same age. I had a housekeeper one day a week to help with the house, thank the Lord, but other than that, I was it. 24/7. While I wouldn’t have had it any other way, it was still a challenge at times.
Added to the mix was the fact that my husband traveled overseas a significant amount of time beginning when Jack was a baby. He went to Bangladesh quite often, and one time he was in Australia for 3 1/2 weeks. I put a picture of him at the dinner table to remind my children as to who he was. Sadly, the phrase “out of sight, out of mind” was real to a 5, 3 1/2 and 1 year old.
I remember always thinking about the next stage when I was in the current stage. Get through the week so Wayne would be home to help me. Get the children out of diapers to be potty trained. Get them to sleep through the night so I can sleep through the night (because of course, my husband was already sleeping through the night…when he was home). Get them out of mother’s day out to get to real school. And for heaven’s sake, get us all out of middle school. It feel like a century of continuous middle school years.
My inclination was to wish the end of where I was so I could get to where I wanted to be. I guess I thought the next stage would be easier than the previous stage. So subconsciously, I was thinking it would be better as well. What a myth I bought into.
I’ve thought about what it would be like to know then what I know now…if I could somehow give myself a head’s up as to life in general. That is not assuming I would have listened, but hey, one can always dream. Here’s what I would say to myself and to other young women or moms…and to my own daughters.
First of all, you need to remember that your life really isn’t all about you. Not that you are an obviously selfish person, but I realize how you, like a lot of people, have selfish tendencies. I guess that’s basically because you are human. Your joy and peace will not come from your circumstances, no matter how hard you work to have them be what you want them to be. Or what you think others want or think they should be.
Quit wearing yourself out trying to please everyone around you. You don’t have the ability to make, much less keep, anyone else happy – well, maybe for a short time you do…but in the long run, everyone is responsible for their own happiness. Even your children. Do your best to do what is true and right, and let the proverbial chips fall where they may. I promise it really does all work out. Just maybe not in the time frame you had planned.
One of the most important things you can give your children is the ability for them to make their own decisions. Notice I said their own decisions. Not your decisions. You won’t understand the importance of this until you send them off to college. That’s when you will realize that their wings have to be stronger than you ever imagined and their faith truly grounded.
The challenge is having it be their own faith. They can’t take your faith with them to college. If they did, it would crash and burn fairly quickly. And, resist the urge to call your new college child every day. Give them the chance to experience their new life without feeling your presence hovering over them. Let them come to you – when they are ready. But at the end of the day, remember that they are still living life on your nickel, so don’t let them take advantage of their new found freedom.
Enjoy the moment you are in. Whatever that moment may be. I know. It sounds so cliché. But being on this side of time, I can tell you it is true. Don’t wish away the stage you are in just to get to the next one you are looking forward to enjoying. Enjoy the future you dream of now. You aren’t promised the next moment that you are hoping to attain…so enjoy the here and now as much as you possibly can.
Pray. A lot. Life will throw stuff at you that you aren’t expecting. Remember that the Lord doesn’t necessarily want to make you comfortable. His goal is to make you more like Him. And sometimes that will mean God has to strip some stuff out of your life to achieve the goal of making you more like Him. The stripping away will reveal what you have had propping you up in life. Let Him. It will be a lot less painful of a journey if you do. Pay attention to the subtle, yet devastating duo that can take up residence if you aren’t paying attention: Pride & Fear. I capitalize those two words because they are big deals. A lot of weaknesses you never knew you had rear their ugly head after you have had children.
Remember that the Lord has loaned you your children for a season. They are His. As hard as it is to believe, He loves them more than you ever, ever will be able to, so trust Him with them. Resist the urge to micromanage them or their life situations. Be ok if they are home alone (and lonely) on a Friday night. That will be a great fortifying time for them. Let them struggle some. Don’t swoop in and make it all “ok”, but do let them know while struggles are temporary, character is forever. Don’t make life so easy that they aren’t prepared to handle some of life’s curve balls that inevitably will come. Your instinct as a mom will be to make their lives as comfortable as possible. You will know when it’s right to fight that instinct.
Whatever you do, do not let them disrespect authority. If they can learn to respect authority at a young age, it will be an easier transition for them to respect God’s authority at an older age. Teach and model humility. Remind them that the Lord of their life is actually the Lord. It’s not you…no matter how much you lord over them. But do not allow disrespect. That is a big problem with this generation of kids.
Foster your relationship with your husband and have fun with him. You will appreciate the time invested with him when your children get older and time alone with your husband is frequent. Remember why you fell in love with him in the first place. Before you know it, it will be just the two of you again.
And remember that some people in your world are hurting and you don’t know it. We live in a world where a lot of people make it out like life is perfect. It’s not. Some seasons are harder than others. But God is so faithful. Being transparent to those around you will help others be transparent around you. That’s when friendships grow deep. Be daring and reach out.
Who knows what technology will look like 10 years from now, but from where I sit, it’s out of control. Without the proper governor in place, it has the ability to destroy kids…and even adults.
Don’t be your kids’ best friend…they will have plenty of those. Be strong enough and self-confident enough to be their parent first. But don’t take it to the extreme where you don’t have any fun with them. Rules without relationship can produce rebellion.
And finally, don’t be afraid of change. Sometimes God will use change as the vehicle that brings out the greatest blessings of life.
Well, that’s it from the old Julie to the young Julie…
Have a happy, happy New Year and may you remember to write the correct year in your checkbook.