I once heard it said that the greatest difference you make in the world might not be what you do, but who you raise.
While I no longer remember the context or author of this idea, the weight behind the words has remained with me for years. When I first heard it, I was not yet a mother and still the words stunned me with their profundity. Now with a future man in my care, the idea has an even more sobering impact.
I thought that when we first had William, we had a complete understanding of the tremendous responsibility given to us as parents. As we crept along I-4 after leaving the hospital, we were overcome by the reality that we. were. his. parents. We would be responsible for making sure he was safe, fed, and cared for, every hour of every day. It was daunting and inspiring, terrifying and empowering. We weren’t sure how to go about it but minute by minute, day by day, that is exactly what we started doing. We woke in the middle of the night to make sure he was still breathing. We obsessed over how much he was eating. We checked the temperature of his toes constantly to make sure he wasn’t too hot or too cold. Every doctor’s appointment served to affirm that we were actually doing ok. He was growing. He was healthy. And we were relieved.
16 months into this thing, my perspective has shifted a bit. God has taught me so much in these 500+ days of motherhood and I can say without question that I am not the same person who welcomed William into the world…hopefully, I’m better. I have grown and changed in countless ways and am now feeling at home in this identity of Mom. While I am much more confident in my day-to-day responsibilities as William’s mama, one thing hasn’t changed…I remain humbled and awestruck by the responsibility of raising this little boy into a man. While the general concerns regarding his well-being haven’t lessened, the scope of what it means to raise him in my mind has broadened considerably.
I must teach him the alphabet and also teach him how to give and receive love.
I must protect him from harm but also encourage him to take risks that will enable him to grow.
I must hold his hand to show him that he is safe and cherished, but let it go when he needs to experience new things apart from me.
I must help him read. And dance. And swim. And compromise.
I must instruct him on how to eat with proper table manners and also how to live a life with integrity, honor, and passion.
I must provide a safe place for him to ask questions and also show him that it’s ok to not always have the answers.
I must help him learn to walk without assistance and navigate the path between right and wrong.
I must kiss his hurts and wipe away his tears, while affirming him and letting him know that it’s ok to cry.
I must show him how to put others first, all while the world is screaming at him to only look out for number one.
I must teach him the Gospel, but even more challenging, I must live the Gospel before his eyes in the way I love.
And on…and on…and on…
A person could get downright overwhelmed and desperate in the light of this awesome responsibility. How thankful I am that I will never walk a day of this journey alone. When I start to feel like I can’t do something, I am reminded that God doesn’t call the equipped, He equips the called.
God has called me to this position…chosen me not just to be a mama, but to be William’s mama. With that knowledge, I can take a deep breath and rest in the fact that while I am caring for William, He will take care of me and meet all of my needs minute by minute…hour by hour…day by day.