This week I have shared with you the stories of two babies. If you paid any attention at all (which I fully don’t expect you to do), you already know that Gideon’s infancy was a bit…difficult…while Rebekah’s was idyllic and dreamy and perfect. And I think as the doting Mother of both, I would be completely remiss if I did not further expound on what I gleaned from their polar-opposite infancies.
I have only been known as “Mama” for 3 3/4 years, but the summation of my short journey equals this: I have absolutely no control in forming the initial personalities of babies. They come out how they’re coming out, and that’s just that!
I’ve said before that in my pre-Mama days, I was a bit cavalier in my attitude, spouting off the mouth about what kind of Mother I would be, that “my kids will never act like that in public” or “my child will never have a pacifier at that age” or “my little boy sure won’t be wearing diapers when he is obviously too big to fit on the changing table.”
Cut to three years later, in a Pottery Barn Kids bathroom where Gideon’s knees, calves, ankles, feet and toes were hanging completely off of the plastic pull-down changing station, the table was literally creaking under his weight, his Mama was sweating like a mule, and Gideon was wailing, probably for the entire store to hear, “I’m too heavy!! I’M TOO HEAVY!!!”
That is, if they could understand him through the giant red pacifier in his mouth that he was heavily reliant on until last summer.
God has a way of humbling His children, and He is gracious to do so, and in my case, quickly. Every prideful thought I had about my parenting skills was extinguished, in public, by Gideon’s antics. Thus, by the time Rebekah made her quiet arrival into the world, agreeable to whatever life threw her way, I didn’t even think about taking credit for her personality, nor did I pat myself on the back. For I had learned from day 372 of motherhood that God creates the children and as their Mother, I take the beautiful blessing of what I’ve been given, and begin the shepherding and the shaping.
This epiphany hit me like a ton of bricks one day as Chris, Gideon and I were driving to a Mexican food restaurant in Tulsa where we would be meeting the rest of my family. Gideon was always a pro at sleeping in the car, and so we expected him to get his daily very-much-needed nap on the drive there. However, for some reason, this turned out to be the one day he didn’t sleep well in the car and woke up after only 20 minutes. I began fretting and fussing like a Mother hen, cluck cluck cluck, Gideon’s going to be fussy, cluck cluck cluck, we’re going to have to rush through our meal, cluck cluck cluck, WHY won’t he sleep, cluck cluck CLUCK?…
Chris finally had enough and said “Lesley, calm down! If he’s fussy, he’s fussy. We’ll deal with it.” The amazing Mr. Gore went on to explain something I already knew but was showing I didn’t believe, that the purpose is not for us to have an uninterrupted dinner or to have everyone think our child is perfect, reflecting on our perfecting parenting skills. The goal is to raise a godly child. And so if he acts up, we’ll take him to the bathroom and discipline him. Then we’ll eat. If he acts up again, we’ll take him back to the bathroom. And then we’ll finish eating, and so on and so forth until Gideon becomes a man of God.
That was it for me. Such a simple lesson, one I had read over and over again, one I would probably have even preached to someone else, but on that car trip is when I let go. From that day forward, I was able to tote Gideon out of church, kicking and screaming, without getting worked up or embarrassed, I was able to deal with a fit in the grocery store without sweating and pasting on a smile to everyone I passed while spitting/begging out of the corner of my mouth for him to “PLEASE stop!”, and I even developed a tolerable and patient relationship with the big red pacifier and the size 6 diapers.
Seeing my children through this new lens of humility has allowed me to fully realize the truth that, as different as they were in temperment at the beginning, both of my children were born completely equal in one measure ~ the 100% sin nature that the Bible says we are all born with. Gideon’s primary struggle, his temper, was glaringly evident from the start. As he has grown, his gifts from God have begun to shine…his tenderness, his humor, his hatred for losing his self-control and his real desire to be “a nice guy.” Rebekah’s struggles have been less public, but the Bible clearly states that she was born with a depraved heart, and even though she gave me an easier first year than her brother did, I cry out to God to save her soul. Just as I still, 3 3/4 years later, beg for Him to save my beloved son.
Although these lessons were hard, I thank God from the bottom of my heart for not allowing me to continue in my prideful, I’ve-got-everything-figured-out here’s-my-pamphlet-on-parenting mentality. This Mother Hen has learned some mighty big lessons in the past 3 3/4 years, and it all comes down to this: I may lay the eggs and tend to the nest, but my little chicks?…They were, and are, and will be in the hands of God.
And so daily I say this prayer, “Dear Heavenly Father, cluck Cluck CLUCK cluck cluck CLUCK cluck cluck cluck Cluck CLUCK cluck cluck CLUCK cluck cluck cluck Cluck CLUCK cluck cluck CLUCK cluck cluck!” Trust me, He knows what I’m saying.