by Joanie Butman
Remember the seed packets I received a couple of weeks ago on Grandparents’ Day? The photo on front illustrates what those seeds will produce if you follow the planting instructions on the back. Dirt, water and light – sounds simple enough. And there’s no surprises. If you plant zinnia seeds, that’s exactly what you’ll get. Oh, if parenting could be that simple. We plant seeds and spend years nurturing them, but it’s anyone’s guess as to what the end result will be. You can think you’re planting a tomato and end up with a turnip.
This Mother’s Day is college graduation for my son. I can’t think of a better gift than to witness the flowering of seeds you’ve been planting and nurturing for 22 years. Children don’t arrive with instructions nor a guarantee of what they will look like at maturity. Therein lies the challenge and adventure I suppose. There’s no set germination time. You never know which seeds will take root, and many go into hibernation during the teen years. Then, miraculously, they burst into bloom like spring after a long, cold winter. One of the most difficult things about motherhood is that it takes years to see the fruits of your labor. There’s no better reward for a mom than to watch her child launch into adult life eager (and prepared) to take on the world.
Having said that, I’ve planted my share of dandelions over the years with a lengthy rap sheet of parenting violations. It’s inevitable. We all enter parenthood with our own neuroses. I don’t know any mother who doesn’t wish they could go back and do some things differently. We are particularly hard on ourselves, and why not? Everything gets blamed on mom – in perpetuity. We’re the smoking gun in therapy which, by the way, I’ve offered to subsidize for my children. It’s the least I can do.
One of my devotions recently began with this admonition: “Approach this day with awareness of who is Boss.” It brought to mind a long-forgotten parenting moment when my son was young – probably around 5. I was telling him to do something he obviously didn’t want to do, and he turned to me and said, “You’re not the boss of me. God is!” Clearly, he had taken those particular seeds to heart – not necessarily the way I intended. Not to be deterred, I replied, “Well, He’s busy today and He asked me to fill in for Him. Now, get going!” It wouldn’t be the last time he challenged me with my own words. Not that I was going to admit it to him, but there are many days I forget who’s Boss – but that’s a topic for another day.
All kidding aside, as parents doesn’t God ask us to do just that when we are blessed with a child? As moms, we hold ourselves up to an impossible standard of perfection because we are fully aware of the influence we hold over our children. It’s frightening, which is why I appreciate the fact that I’m merely a co-parent with God. After all, our kids are His first. He’s got much more patience and experience dealing with rebellious children. So, if you’re one of those women who feels woefully inadequate at times regarding your parenting, relax. He’s got your back. He can do “immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us” (Ephesians 3:20). He alone can take our good and bad parenting choices and weave them into something beautiful.
As I watch my son receive his diploma today, I thank God for trusting me with such an awesome responsibility and for taking whatever seeds I managed to plant in my son and helping them take root.
I will leave you with a Mother's prayer because you never graduate from praying for your children. In fact, after a certain age, that's all you can do.