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The Tugs of Parenting

It was one of the most anticipated packages to arrive at our home in quite some time. Told that today would be the day (according to the handy FedEx tracking system), our 5 year-old daughter waited for that large white truck to barrel down our quiet street like it so regularly does. Our not so little girl was joyed when the package arrived. Her parents on the other hand, were a somewhat tortured mix of excited and dumbfounded. Together, the three of us pulled crisp, freshly embroidered, Seven Rivers Warriors uniforms from the box and packaging. We hurriedly tried on each piece, tugging and pulling at each one to check the fit and get each outfit appropriately situated.

With the tugs of each uniform on our newly minted kindergartener, it seemed that our hearts were being yanked back and forth from the memory in our not so distant past of toddler-hood to the now very realistic future of our daughter becoming a young girl. What a unique experience, for the heart to simultaneously ache from sadness and joy. Sadness from the reality that so many of her moments of innocence were behind her, but joy from the expectation that some of her best days are yet to come. It was a major moment for us as parents. We knew the package was scheduled to arrive. We knew our child was growing physically and emotionally. But these are the kinds of moments that catch parents off guard. What were we going to do now – our little baby girl is all of a sudden something much different. We then knew the start of school – the start of this formal education process and all it entails for a child (and their parent) were about to take us on a serious ride.               

Tugs into community.

One of the first emotional pulls I noticed was from the reality of my daughter being drawn into a new place filled with many new people, ideas, and challenges. How will she respond? How will she handle the beginning of a world where she doesn’t have the regular safety net of her parents? How will she overcome the daily challenges of new school tasks, ever-evolving friendship dynamics, and the overall fatigue brought on by a full-week school schedule? How will she respond to growing up in a world I myself often feel terrified to face? How will she do it all? And then my heart quiets for long enough to remember that we are placing her in a community. Not just any community, but one centered on the gospel. The gospel of God’s grace that ensures we are loved and cherished for who we are, not what we do. Through the SRCS community, I know that my daughter will be encouraged, challenged, comforted, and ultimately changed by people who are for her. She will be loved in new ways that we as her parents are unable to love her. She will not just be educated, she will be taught that as our minds grow, our hearts for Jesus and each other must grow as well.

Tugs toward marriage.

I am finding that such a transitional time has been good for my wife and me. We have felt a strong tug toward each other as we attempt to navigate new life change like this. Raising our daughter has included some of our highest highs and some of our lowest lows. We’re sure that kindergarten and her new life as a student will include the same for our daughter. Endeavoring in the process of letting her go and encouraging her to flourish will have to be a partnership for my wife and me. I am thankful for how our hearts have reached for each other. This experience is reminding us that parenting is not meant for the faint of heart, but for those who are ready to commit to something messy and hard and sad and joyous. We know and have to remind ourselves that raising our kids well means being in each other’s corners 100% of the time. We need God’s grace to do that.

Tugs toward our heavenly Father.

Ultimately, the hope we have for a bright future for our daughter is the love of someone greater. As we leave her to the care of a new community, and as we begin growing together in raising a child who seems to now be barreling towards adolescence, we are forced to trust that she has a heavenly Father who cares for her better than anyone. No teacher, parent, friend, compelling academic subject, or extracurricular activity will love our daughter like God her heavenly Father does. As I attempt to take more deep breaths of trust in the coming days, my greatest comfort about her education is that this fundamental principle of the love of God is sine qua non for her education. As she is challenged in her academic and personal growth the next 13 years, I rest knowing that the message of God’s love and care will be primary and central. I rest knowing that since God is our Father, he bears with us in our failures and struggles – including but not limited to those of parenting. I rest knowing that the tugs of parenting are most importantly meant to draw me closer to him. And I rest knowing that despite the myriad emotions my wife and I feel, there is a direction and purpose for all this tugging – the direction and purpose of the promise of Romans 8:28 – the good of those who love God. Now, as I try to wrap my head and heart around it all, pass the tissues.
 
 
The tugs of parenting are better handled together.  MOPS and MOMSnext are two groups designed to encourage, equip, and develop mothers of preschoolers and school-age kids.
MOPS                 MOMSnext