Now that our oldest is safely and happily in his Pre-K classroom, I’ll spend my day like most parents on the first day of school – wondering how in the world I’m going to survive dropping him off at college. Don’t get me wrong, by bath time tonight, I might be dreaming of sending him to college or possibly boarding school but, for right now, Pre-K is all I can handle. Even as I’m writing this, I find myself praying that he’s having fun, feeling comfortable and not stealing anyone else’s snack.
This whole adventure of parenting is filled with more highs and lows than I ever would have imagined. When I was a kid, I thought grown-ups had all the answers, were never afraid and totally had this thing called life figured out. I guess that’s how it’s supposed to be; it would have rocked my world to know how unsure, overwhelmed and, at times, scared my parents must have been. But now that I am a grown-up (or at least a parent), I’ve come to realize they must have felt that way. And I’ve come to realize that’s a good thing. All of that parental uncertainty draws two things out of my heart.
One, compassion for other parents. It’s really easy to judge parents when you don’t have kids. But, once you join the sleep-deprived club, you realize that everyone’s trying to do their best. No, we don’t all parent the same way and, yes, the Bible has plenty to say about how we should raise our children. But, wow, this parenting thing is hard enough without all the critiquing and criticizing we’re all tempted to run to as a way of covering our insecurity. Our little people need us to stick together and keep the Moma Drama to a minimum.
Two, dependance on God. The one thing that helps me sleep well at night is the certainty that God loves my kids more than I do. At times that seems hard to believe but I know it’s true – they were His idea long before they were mine and He sacrificed more for them in Jesus than I ever will. He has plans and purposes for their little lives and, in His wisdom, He knew that growing up with me and Laura as their parents was the best way to bring those plans to fruition. He’s a source of wisdom, grace and strength when we don’t know what to do. We just need to humble ourselves enough to ask.
In the sea of our parental uncertainty, Laura and I are trying to stay anchored in three commitments this school year:
- Assume the best of and pray for your child’s teacher. No, your kid’s teacher isn’t going to do everything exactly the way you would. By the way, even if you homeschool, you’re not always going to meet your expectations for yourself! In the moment when you are tempted to send that fiery email, take a breath and assume the best. Make it a habit to pray regularly for your child’s teacher. Ask God to strengthen, encourage and bless him or her. Ask the Lord to work through this person to shape your child’s heart and mind.
- Show grace to other parents and families. I was thinking about this the other day when I saw the list of foods banned from our kid’s school. My goodness – PreK has turned him into a functional vegan. By the time you add up everything that anyone in the classroom is allergic to, he’s pretty much going to eat celery for a year. No flax seed? Fine. No peanut butter? You just messed with a pillar of American education! Does all of this make lunch a little more complicated? Yeah. Is it a big deal? Not really. The Bible calls us to outdo one another in showing honor. (Romans 12:10) Make that your goal when interacting with other parents and families – whether it’s about lunch, birthday parties or what tv shows they watch.
- Love your kid without comparing your kid. If your kid had a melt down this morning, it’s easy to wish he was more like the confident little bugger down the road. If, on the other hand, your kid leaped out of the mini-van and barely said goodbye, it’s easy to wish he was more like the sensitive kid down the road. Why go there? Love the kid God entrusted to you and make sure he or she goes to bed tonight knowing how proud you are of him/her, no matter how today went.
Before long, all the emotion of today will fade. But, if it leaves us all a little more humble, dependent and compassionate, then it really will have been a good first day.