STERLING HEIGHTS, MI – My children are grown. I am at that awkward stage of parent life where we say, in honesty and humility, we know less now than we thought we knew when we started. Is anyone with me on that? Pride says we knew it all and did it all right. But that is dishonest, really. No perfect parents exist. We all miss some things. We are all still learning, at all stops along the way.
When my pregnancy was confirmed for my first-born, I spent considerable time pondering Hannah, the Biblical mother who in faith waited for a child and then gave him back to the Lord. And I went back to Hannah again with my second child. The lessons remain, 35+ years later.
What do I know now that I could not have known then, in the first blush of baby-love?
The giving them back to the Lord never ends. It’s a daily and sometimes moment by moment offering. When they are so sick your heart aches. When they are hurt by this world. When you want to punch (or worse) the ones who hurt them. When they are so obedient to the Lord your heart bursts with pride, when they stumble and fall so hard it takes your breath away, and you are face down on the floor. You just keep giving them back.
They don’t belong to me. Never did, never will. I was privileged to be responsible for my care of them when small, my slow release of them as they grew and the balancing act that all became. I am honored to have become their adult friend. I am and always will be their mom, but I am NOT their God and they are not MY God. I cannot make them into idols to be adored, and cannot make them the center of my universe. Only the Lord God can occupy that throne.
My primary identity is not found in my motherhood, as precious as it is to me. I am a child of God, redeemed by Jesus Christ, led by the Holy Spirit. I am a wife, a daughter, a sister, a servant of the Church, a friend to many, on mission in the world. And I am a mother to two beloved children. I hold the history of those two in my heart, like Mary hid the life story of Jesus in hers.
Their primary identity is not found in me, although they each say I am the voice in their heads more often than I would think. My main job is to keep pointing them to Jesus. To pray. To try not to meddle. To be ready to encourage, advise when permitted, to be honest, and to live for Jesus, modeling for them what their next stage of life should look like.
Perfect children don’t exist. All of us are wounded by the fall. In our DNA exists the sin of Adam; a rebellious spirit that leads to eternal death unless surrendered to the Savior who died for us. The best I can do for my children is to pray, not for perfection, but for holiness as they submit to the One who made them.
I still wonder how much of it I got right, but we don’t get do overs, just memories. And forgiveness. And new starts. And lifelong friends. And maybe grandchildren. And we leave a legacy.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Karen Villalpando is a member of Memorial Baptist Church, Sterling Heights, where she serves as a Bible Teacher, Mission Team Leader and child Care Center Administrator, Michigan WMU/women’s MINISTRY Team member, WMU Acteen Camp program leader, BSCM preschool/children’s ministry consultant, and IMB Trustee, 2013-2021. She is the wife of Leonard Villalpando and mom to Lucas Villalpando, Ellen Skidmore and her husband jason, as well as Lifelong follower of Jesus and servant in his church.