When I was pregnant, the thought of being responsible for another human being was intimidating. Actually, it was downright terrifying. Meeting my baby's physical needs seemed like a daunting task in itself, but it was quickly overshadowed by the thought of meeting their emotional and social needs.
How does one raise a competent, confident, compassionate individual?
How do I teach him to be kind?
How do I empower him to be bold?
How do I foster his imagination and encourage his creativity?
I could make lists for days about the attributes I desired for my son, and I worried endlessly over how my parenting could build up or destroy him.
As a rookie on the mom team, I felt completely incompetent and delved deep into the infinite resources available to parents. Books, magazines, pamphlets, and lots and lots of web pages. Rather than make me feel educated and prepared, my reading made me feel even more overwhelmed and under qualified. Every article seemed to contradict another. One author declares that letting your kid cry it out will foster trust issues. The next one promises if you don't let your kid cry it out they will never grow independence. I quickly began to feel as if every single choice I made as a mother would have make-or-break consequences on the man my son would become. That's a lot of pressure on a first time mom elbow deep in diapers, desperately dreaming of a hot shower and a long nap.
Finally, one night I switched off my browser and opened my Bible app to Psalm 139. It wasn't a new passage to me, but the Lord flooded peace over me as I read verses 13-16 from The Message translation:
"Oh yes, you shaped me first inside, then out;
you formed me in my mother's womb.
I thank you, High God – You're breathtaking!
Body and soul, I am marvelously made!
I worship in adoration – what a creation!
You know me inside and out;
you know every bone in my body;
You know exactly how I was made, bit by bit,
how I was sculpted from nothing into something.
Like an open book, you watched me grow from conception to birth;
all the stages of my life were spread out before you,
The days of my life all prepared
before I'd even lived one day."
This truth brings great relief, hope, peace, and grace to my parenting.
Fellow momma, my one piece of advice to you is this–pray for wisdom and trust your instincts. James 1:5 promises, "If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you."
I believe when you pray for wisdom you can trust your intuition. So cuddle your baby close as he falls asleep. Or let him cry it out. He's yours, you'll know. Capture every sweet moment with your camera. Or turn off all devices and memorize her. She's yours. It's your choice. Provide many moments for the village of love surrounding you to have a chance to hold him and enjoy him. Or keep him close and treasure your time with him because time moves fast. He's yours. You decide. Read the parenting articles if you want, ask the advice of mothers who have gone before you (and praise the Lord for educated health care professionals!) but above all, pray for wisdom and have the confidence to trust that God will help you discern what advice to keep and what you can, in love and knowledge of your child, disregard.
We all want our kids to be happy and healthy, safe and loved. I believe that every author of every parenting article shares the same goal. But the reality is, happy, healthy kids don't all look, sound and act the same. My son is not yet two but already we can tell, he is silly, loves to laugh and loves to be loved, especially by big kids. He is an explorer–a fast, busy, attention loving, explorer. Caution has long since been swooped up by the wind, making my heart race at the playground as I try to anticipate where I need to be in the event I'll have to break his fall. We know another little boy who relishes in the security of mom and dad. He is timid, careful. When encountering something new, he wants his parents with him. We certainly don't encourage Jase to keep running beyond the point where the platform on the playground ends and our friends certainly haven't encouraged their son to always reach for their hand. While we share a lot of the same parenting goals and strategies as these friends, the definitive traits of our sons' unique designs continue to set them apart.
Because you love your baby and love the Lord who gifted her to you, I am confident that everything you do will come from a place of love and good intentions, and I firmly believe when motherhood is rooted there, things aren't black and white, wrong or right. Rather, it's a beautiful haze of well-intentioned, sincerely loving, trying our best for our best, grays. Please, please, don't give in to mom guilt. Be an intentional parent, a praying parent, but don't allow fear to hold you captive. Psalm 139 has already declared that God has designed your child–uniquely, intricately, intentionally and marvelously. I believe through motherhood, God has established us in a unique place of influence over our children. With a high calling to love, protect, teach and nurture. But your best mom days will not grant you a perfect child. And your mom "fails" will not destroy the intricate work of the Lord.
You got this, momma.
By Tracey Dyck
Originally published in Be Still Magazine, issue 3.