Their newborn faces are forever engraved in my memory. My daughter’s eyes sparkled like dark sapphires at birth and my son resembled a miniature blonde Winston Churchill. Just yesterday I was trying to figure out what to expect when I was expecting. Now, both tower over me. When did I become so short? Darn that gravity.
My youngest enters high school this year and my son will be applying to college. My husband keeps asking my daughter, “When did you finish the 4th grade?” We still picture her in a school plaid jumper, knee socks, and black Mary Jane shoes.
We would like to give our children the best of everything. However, it doesn’t take long to see where we often come up short. We cannot guarantee that our children will not face trials, challenges, and temptations. We cannot guarantee that they will not suffer. All I can do is to try to do my best to provide for their needs. Most of the time, I am not sure what is enough or what constitutes too much.
Not giving them everything is often giving them more
We cannot take their tests and entrance exams. We can only provide an environment conducive to studying, give encouragement, and sometimes even supply threats to stimulate motivation. Once in a while we might pass along a gene or two to help in the area of talent, but not the hours of practice it takes to refine those genes. We might also pass along some of our less desirable traits, like the tendency to worry or to procrastinate. We might also give them a propensity to have high blood pressure and elevated cholesterol. But at the same time we can model and give them advice on how to manage these things.
Obviously we should not be over-indulgent with material things, even if our pocketbook had no limitations. In some ways it is a good thing we have limited resources. It is important to learn how to do without and also to share. In addition, as they get older it is impossible to clean their rooms all of the time and to wash all of their clothes on demand. By not doing some of these things, I am doing them and their future spouse a favor.
We cannot say our kid’s confessions for them. Although sometimes I think that my kids could do a better job of confessing my sins for me than I do.
There are some things of which we cannot give our kids enough
(1) We can never give our kids too much love. This cannot be overemphasized!
(2) We cannot give them too much of our time. My mother gave me a plaque when my daughter was born that said, “Dishes and laundry can wait, but a baby will not keep.” While they are young, Mom and Dad are the best things since sliced bread. They want to follow and mimic everything. But typically, chauffeured teenagers want to be dropped off at the corner before ever approaching the vicinity of a school campus. This is to avoid the chance of being seen by peers in the company of an “embarrassing” parent. It is important to develop the pattern of being interested in what children are doing and sharing activities together when they are young. Once they are older, kids themselves start to have less and less free time and might even one day have to live far away.
(3) We cannot give our kids too much appreciation for spiritual treasures. I’m not talking about cramming religion down their throat; but rather giving them the example of life lived out by faith. Show them what it really means to practice what you preach. Teach them joy. Show them prayer in action. Show them charity and genuine love for God. Provide for them the opportunity to participate in the Sacraments of the Church.
(4) We can never pray for them too much. We have the example of saints, like St. Monica who prayed for her son, St. Augustine. I have heard it said that in particular, the prayers of a mother can pierce the heavens.
Are parents ever good enough?
One reason cited by persons contemplating to abort a life is that they feel too inadequate to be good parents.They are fearful that they might not be able to provide the resources necessary for a child to thrive. Perhaps there are a few out there in the world that give birth to their kids with complete confidence. I don’t know them. In fact, I dare say that they are not the norm. It is normal to approach parenthood with some and even a lot of fear of the responsibility. I will admit it. Sometimes I fear that I am forever messing up my kids. Many times I have stood in the middle of Wal-Mart feeling like a deranged mother with two helpless out-of-control kids. But the moment does pass. Only Jesus was given the most perfect mother through the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Immaculate Conception. The rest of us do the best that we can by God’s grace.
Given life abundantly from Jesus
Children are a gift from God but not our possession. It is important to be willing to rely on God’s help through this process as He is the author and giver of life. In today’s Gospel Jesus states: “I came so that they might have life and have it more abundantly”(John 10:10). There is a lot to be said about a full and abundant life. Like mentioned above, we want to give our children everything possible but we quickly realize our limitations. God wants to do the same thing for each one of us. The major difference is that He is not limited. He is infinite in mercy and can supply all of our needs according to His riches in glory (Philippians 4:19).