In my first few weeks postpartum, it was a revelation to me that God made us to experience parenting, so that each of us can be held accountable for another life. My life was no longer just about me - what I want, how I imagine "abundant life" to be - but also how my choices and actions nudge my offspring a little closer to, or farther from, knowing his Creator.
These days, I'm finding that God made us parents actually primarily for us - to nudge us a little closer, or farther from, closely walking with Him, trusting Him, entrusting Him.
After the umpteenth time we go through a massive struggle of wills for the little one to:
A) Stay in his high-chair and finish his dinner, and/or
B) Remain in his own toddler bed to sleep through the remaining few hours of the night
I can't help but throw up my hands and utter a prayer - "Oh God, help!"
We know the theory to good parenting - never lose your patience, always make mealtimes enjoyable, slowly ease the child into sleeping the night through etc. - but delivering these moves are a challenge, when at the back of my mind are untamed and angry worries about whether the child is getting enough nutrition and rest.
In these moments, the words "Be still, and know that I am God" are the furthest from my mind.
It doesn't help to have friends who are blessed with easy babies - you know, the ones that sleep 12 hours straight from the 2nd month, and have hale and hearty appetites no matter what manner of food comes before them.
The green monster, Envy, rears its ugly head and makes me just want to roar aloud the question "Why?!"
To be fair to the little one, he isn't quite the sleep-depriving monster mommy is making him out to be here. On the contrary! Our soon-to-be 19 month old is a clever little angel now, full of ways to keep us entertained with his shenanigans.
Haha... he does a mean impression of a chicken now, and only says "Hi!' to little doggies and kittens, never to humans.
He counts now too, except that every number is a "Two!" "Two!" "Two!" and is able to report to me that the sirens on ambulances and fire trucks go "Ee-yor Ee-yor". He also loves sneaking up on Daddy napping on the couch and startling him with playful punch, complete with a cheeky laugh. Bread is now "Bu", apple juice is now "Per-Ju", and milk is "Mmm".
Watching him, I ask myself the question - am I doing something wrong? What else can we do to make him eat more/sleep more/speak better/count/stack the blocks/take an interest in the alphabet etc (you fill in the blank!)?
The easy way out of explaining why he is the way he is with sleep and food ended on 30 June, the day we left Singapore. Till then, any shortcoming became the fault of what the other caregivers in his life did, or did not do.
Then, I had to luxury of saying to myself - hey I'm employed, going to work and feeding the mouths in this family. Let somebody else be answerable for some of the bad habits our toddler is picking up.
That however, ended when yours truly became a stay home mom.
I'm clean out of excuses.
All that is left now is me, him, and a lot of time for me to sort out these questions and anxieties, and the place in this home for God to continue being an integral part of our family life.
In a nutshell, it is getting clearer and clearer to me, as I step into full-time mommy-dom, that there is a whole lot more to God's purpose in the command to "go forth and multiply" than it may first appear. Parenting without God, as is life in general, is I discovered a sure road to hell filled with personal inner demons and utter discontent.