I have been asked many times this summer about the lessons learned in my years at home with my oldest, now that she is dipping her toes into adulthood. Here is what I’ve learned in those 18 summers that I once thought would never end:
First, I have learned to trust God who created her for His perfect purpose. He loves her infinitely more than I do. He promises good for her, and He is the author and finisher of life, so no matter what I do I can’t keep her here on this earth one second more than He has for her. I can relax. I also have learned that in trusting Him, I must understand that whatever she does with her life will be 100% in spite of me. Yes, I have taken on the burden of her education, but I cannot mess this up. At first it is so scary, but then it is freeing. He has a plan for her, and He is going to fulfill it. No matter what I do or don’t do. I just have the opportunity of being a part of it and reaping the joy from the work I put in. That is amazing.
Second, I have learned that our kids know more about us than we ever imagine. They know our sincerity, our motives, and our values not as we say them but as we live them. I have learned that they are always watching and cannot be duped with a million words. Our actions are all they see. And when they are home with us every hour of the day, we better make sure that we are walking the walk. But in saying that, I have also learned that they forgive so easily. They understand we are human and are always ready to offer grace when we ask. I ask a lot.
Third, I have learned that Laura Ingalls Wilder was right…HOME is the nicest word there is. When they are little, it is all they know, and we have the ability to make it what we want. I have learned in looking back to never take that for granted. I have learned that we must make it what we want for them, not what we want for us because as they grow and begin to learn about things outside of home, it remains the standard. It is never a waste of time to bake the pie, freeze the popsicles, cut the flowers, or light the candles. Porch lights matter. The kitchen table is the most important piece of furniture in the whole house, and there are very few problems that can’t be solved while gathered around it. It is always worth it the effort and plan. The curriculum choices, extra activities, and read alouds, while important, will come and go. Some will stick more than others. Some will be a complete bust, but the education that will never leave them is what happens day to day. Our words, how we handle trials, how we serve others, and how we protectand prioritize our days. We are charged with educating whole persons. That is an amazing honor and heavy weight all at the same time. I have learned to forget what the world and all the experts say, and do what I feel in my gut is best. I am the one who has to stand by it. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. And when it doesn’t, I am so grateful for grace!
Finally, I have learned to hold the mirror. The mom who took this picture told me that this was a moment she knew I would want captured. I didn’t underetand at the time, and I don’t know the mom. We were in the church bathroom at my daughter’s graduation, but she was so right, and I would love to be able to thank her! Hold the mirror, play the games, read all the books (over and over), sing loud, listen, and be real. Put away your selfish motives, your needs, your fears, and your phone. Forget about what you look like and how much you weigh. Tune out the world’s suggestions and the ten step plans for raising your children. Just follow God’s Word and the convictions He gives you. He is faithful. Childood is the shortest eighteen years on earth. The days may seem long, but I can tell you that the years are so short. The biggest thing I have learned is that there is no going back. When it is over it is over, so savor the days and love this life you have been given. That is the greatest thing we could ever teach our kids.