If I Had a Do-Over (in Parenting)...

Oh! If I could only travel back in time and do it all over again! Does your heart ever feel that way?

I know that I am supposed to leave the past behind and trust God with my memories. I know that. And I try to do it … I really do.

But there are just some moments in life when the past comes roaring upon me like a fast-moving and powerful train … and there I stand watching it all fly by me.

I see all of my yesterdays – the good and bad of it all. I see the successes and the failures. The sweet and the challenging. The yummy and the distasteful.

I see precious memories of childhood and the safety of my parents’ home. Birthday parties … Christmas morning … and just the joy of an ordinary dinner around the kitchen table with the people who laid the foundation for the woman I am today.

I remember being at the altar and giving my heart to Jesus and praying for the Holy Spirit to fill me with power. Even as a child, I remember just wanting more of Jesus.

I remember as a teen-ager and being caught at the crossroads of right and wrongof sin and morality … of Jesus and the culture. Oh! How I wish I could have a do-over in that moment.

I recall like it was just yesterday leaving for a college that was over 1,000 miles away from home and family.  I was caught in the bittersweet excitement where yesterday and tomorrow meet. It was my very first plane ride and upon takeoff it took me so much further than only 1,000 miles away from home.  It took me from childhood to adulthood … it flew me from dependent to independent … it transported me from being a dreamer to becoming a doer. That plane ride on that August morning in 1973 didn’t just take me to Tulsa, Oklahoma … it landed me exactly in my God-ordained destiny.

I remember the moment when I knew that Craig McLeod was the one for me. I felt the generous favor and love of God wash over my undeserving heart.

And how I remember holding my first baby in my arms!

There is no joy like the joy of new life.  A baby … so fresh from heaven … had been entrusted to us.

We were only ordinary people and yet God, in His grand plan, had given us a miracle in the flesh to hold … to love … to raise … to train … and to let go.

And then two years later there was another adorable son to love … and then a third son who was ever so wanted … and then the gift of a sweet little girl … and then one more daughter as the grandest surprise of all!

And … if I could do parenting all over again … there are some things that I would certainly do the same while other things I would change drastically.

I think that wanting a “do-over” with parenting perhaps is the greatest emotional challenge of all, isn’t it?

Somehow, as our hearts look back over the panorama of the parenting years, we tend to linger more on the mistakes that we made rather than on the battles that were won under our watch.

I have to train my mind and my heart to remember the victories and not merely the failures.  I must call forth the wonderful memories to rise to the top of the treasure chest known as my heart.

And so in this moment – I feel compelled to share with especially the parents of the next generation – some of the things that I would do differently if I could do it all over again. 

Will you indulge me in a brief and tender lesson coming from an older mom’s heart?

I would laugh more and scold less.

I would keep the minor things minor.

I would snuggle more and let the dust bunnies multiply.

I would let go of outside interests and activities so that I was better able to focus on the best activity of all – raising a family for the unshakable Kingdom of God.

I would read to them more and put away the distraction that screens presented.

I would rock longer and kiss away the tears.

I would listen to every joke … every story … and every heartbreak with rapt and undivided attention.

There will always be dishes to do … bills to pay … and laundry to fold.  But there won’t always be little people who just want me.

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I would give them more of me.

I would keep laughter ringing in every corner of my home.

I would teach them how to sing through the hard days of life! There is nothing like a song in your heart to wash away the disappointment of life.

I would memorize the Bible with them. Every day of every week of every month of every year … I would place the Word of God in their hearts.

I would discipline … but I wouldn’t yell. I would train … but I wouldn’t send them on guilt trips.

I would try to remember that their little hearts had been loaned to me for such a very short time and so I would treat each heart as a fragile and valuable commodity.

I would let them splash in mud puddles and not worry about dirty, wet shoes.

I would read an extra story rather than declaring that it was too late.

I would stop by the side of the road and let my children giggle at the cows wandering in the field

I would let them catch fireflies on a summer’s evening … I would let them play with play dough on a rainy afternoon even though it made a mess … I would let them stay up late and wait for Daddy even when it was past their bedtime.

I would let them help me bake cookies … I would take them to Gramma’s house more often … and I would just listen to the sound of their laughter.

That’s what I would do if I could do it all over again.  So young mom … young dad … if you are listening … I hope that you will turn my wishes into your reality.

Life flies by at the speed of light so don’t miss your moment to sing … to read … to hold … to giggle … to pray.

This moment will never come again.

Thanks for listening to my heart this week.  As you know by now, my heart is truly not a perfect heart but it is a heart that is filled to overflowing with gratitude for the life I have been given and for the people who walk with me.  And, it continues to be a heart that is relentlessly chasing after God and all that He is!