To pray is to listen, to move through my own chattering to God, to that place where I can be silent and listen to what God may have to say.
- Madeleine L’Engle
We went to dinner over the holidays at the house of some friends we hadn’t seen in a very long time. I came to the jarring re-realization that my children are no longer little and sweet. They are big and teen-y and have an adolescent edge to their humor.
For years I yearned to offer God the gift of a beautiful family, but what I have at the moment is kids with sarcasm and acne. That’s OK. Life got simpler (and I became a better mother) when I stopped worrying about how my kids would turn out and focused more on what I was putting in. It’s the input that’s within my control, after all. It’s up to me to be patient, thoughtful, faithful and responsible, and to set boundaries and a good example. It’s up to them to decide what to do with that.
I don’t like all of my kids’ decisions any more than God likes all of mine. But it’s possible to offer feedback and correction without falling in the trap of thinking that their choices somehow reflect how good a mother I am. I’m a good mother based on what I do, not what they do. And I pray God will help me be a good one.
Julia Attaway is a freelance writer, homeschooler and mother of five. She is the editor of Daily Guideposts: Your First Year of Motherhood, a book of devotions for first-time moms. She lives in New York.