I’m trying to make my kids’ childhood magical. I want them to have a happy childhood with many happy memories to look back on. So I plan fun family outings, I have them involved in after school activities, I invite their friends over, I sometimes slack on discipline because I hate to see them sad or disappointed, I probably don’t ask them to do enough around the house because I want them to have a carefree childhood, and I try to head off pain, suffering, and heartache before it even comes near.
My desire for them is to truly enjoy this brief season of childhood. And there’s nothing wrong with that desire. I mean we all want our kids to be happy, right?
So what’s the downside?
Well first of all, I’m friggin exhausted. I’m worn out physically and mentally from doing all the things—trying to orchestrate constant fun, taking on the lion’s share of housework so they can feel carefree, and doing everything I can to keep their lives free from hardship and suffering. As I get older I’m acutely aware that I can no longer keep up this pace as head merriment maker. And as my children get older, I’m acutely aware there is less and less I can control when it comes to their suffering. I can stop a toddler at the playground from hitting my daughter, but I won’t be able to keep mean girls at bay in middle school.
I think I’ve been going about this the wrong way. I’ve been focusing on happiness, but happiness is a temporary, fleeting emotion. I want to give them so much more than a short-lived good feeling; I want to give them something lasting.
I want my children to have an underlying sense of peace, a calmness at the depths of their core, an inner voice that plays on repeat, “Everything is going to be OK.” I know they will suffer. I know their hearts will ache. I know they will feel sad, lonely, and despondent at times. I can’t protect my children from these things.
So instead of a happy childhood, I want to give my children a relationship with God. In God, they will find their passions instead of waiting for others to entertain them. In God, they will find peace in times a tribulation. In God, they will feel true joy despite suffering.
As moms, we are used to being the ones who make everything OK. We kiss the boo boos. We cool the fevers. We wipe the tears. But we are temporary in that regard. As our children grow, they grow away from us. In the same way we comfort them as children, God will be their comfort as they grow.
So now, I will focus on introducing my children to God’s incredible love for them. I pray that He will be their source of joy and their greatest consolation. I will give up the idea of giving my children a happy childhood and give them God instead.
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