Yesterday I took my youngest son to the eye doctor. It turns out he’s nearsighted, a revelation that came as no real surprise given that his daddy, his mommy and all three of his brothers are as well. Part of me hoped that since he alone has blond hair he alone might have good eyesight. Not so. Genetics is an amazing deal.
Just as my husband and I have passed on to our sons what has been passed on to us, namely poor eyesight, we pass on other things as well. Biological legacies to be sure, but we also pass on some of our mannerisms and habits and quirks of personality, both good and bad. I can often hear my husband’s voice in my son’s or detect his same facial expressions in theirs.
My oldest son is careful and methodical and not very funny, much like his mom. He is also enamored by gadgets and the “stuff” of his given
obsession hobby, much like his dad. I can draw similar delineations with my other boys. My second son is silly and fiercely competitive, much like his daddy. And he is…well…I’m not sure what I’ve passed on to him so it might be safe to presume it is not necessarily the best part of me that is reflected in him.
That’s the rub, is it not? Seeing the worst of ourselves repeated in our kids? Oh, to be sure, one of the most surprising and comforting aspects of parenting is the realization that our kids are resilient. I can’t tell you how often I have prayed for my kids to know and love the Lord Jesus despite me. I know my testimony before them and I know they will not do so because of me. They’ve forgiven and forgotten most of my mess up’s, thanks be to God. They’re great kids, but not because they have a great mom.
I used to think raising kids was much like baking a cake–all that was required of me was to follow the directions and poof! out would come the cake / kid of my choice, as if I could somehow make my son into the image of my choosing merely by doing all the “right” things.
Certainly there are any number of recipes others will tell us to follow, from reading to your children every night to spanking (or not). As an insecure young mom (as opposed to the insecure old mom I am today), I tried hard to follow every recipe I was given. That is, I until I realized (1) it was impossible to follow every recipe and (2) there are no guarantees.
I’m not saying it doesn’t matter what we do nor that we have no influence. It does matter greatly and our influence is enormous. I am saying that motherhood is easily the hardest thing
I’ve ever done I’m still doing. I can truly say that the greatest blessings of my life–as well as the greatest heartaches–have come to me as a mom.
Very often I plead with the Lord for the promise of Isaiah 54:13, “All yours sons will be taught by the Lord and great will be your children’s peace.” I ask Him to fill in the blanks even as I beg Him to equip me for the daunting and impossible task of raising a generation of godly men for His kingdom’s glory.
I do not know what my legacy will be to my children. To some of them I have passed on my serious nature, to others my bursts of anger. I wish this were not so. Can we choose what we pass on? Am I able to determine my legacy? If yes, it would be this: that my boys would love the Lord Jesus with their lives, finding in Him the only Treasure worth having. May they see everything else–all the promises and pleasures of this world–as rubbish in comparison to knowing and serving Him.