Before I became a mom and I desperately wanted to have a baby, I had a friend ask me if I was ready to be a parent. Before I could answer she repeated herself, "Are you ready to be a parent? I'm not asking if you are ready to have a baby but if you are ready to be a parent." I didn't understand the gravity of her question that day. Of course I was ready, I thought, I can't wait to hold a little snuggle muffin and sing lullabies. Now though, I fully understand what she was saying to me. Being a parent is such a huge responsibility, an undertaking like none other. Parenting changes relationships and transforms people. Parenting is hard.
I remember when I was ridiculously huge, pregnant with my twins Dave and I would talk about what it would be like to be parents. It seems like all our parenting conversations were about our future kids when they were about eight. Those years though, between birth to eight - we didn't discuss those at all...simply, because we had no clue. No clue whatsoever. We talked about our kids being kind to their friends, when they would start dating (we didn't know we would have a girl and that we would change our whole philosophy on dating to don't even make eye contact with the opposite sex until we pick a spouse for you), chores, their relationship with Jesus. We didn't talk about how they would learn to be kind, or the process in which we teach them what to expect and give in a relationship, or the development of a work ethic, or the process in introducing them to Jesus.
Before I had kids, I was an expert in parenting. And now, that I have four kids I am the first to say I have no clue what I'm doing. The things I swore my children would never do before I had a quiver full of my own seem so minor in comparison to the things my kids have pulled off. I have become a full time student and am no longer pretending I know enough to be a teacher.
Even though being a parent has changed me, how I view the world, how I view God, how I view myself - it has been one of the greatest adventures of my life. They are like blank canvases that God has entrusted to Dave and me to paint and help create a masterpiece with. I work, I strive, I pray to paint with strokes of love and kindness, encouragement and purpose. Sometimes though I paint with frustration and exhaustion, confusion and exasperation. But I think I can honestly say, so far I think they are quite beautiful pieces of art.
I have four little snuggle muffins now and lots of lullabies have been sung. I've been blessed with four babies and now I get to parent all of them. And today, as my house is filled with laughter as they chase each other around the table with their Tonka trucks and Will is desperately trying to get in on the action, I am grateful I had no idea what my friend was really asking me that day. Because if I had understood, had known how hard it would be, these giggles may not have been ever created. Children really are a blessing from the Lord...thank goodness most of us assume we have it all figured out before we have our children so we are brave enough to have kids and thank God that He is still painting on my canvas, and His grace is sufficient for me a masterpiece in the making.