I absolutely love being a parent. It is one of the great joys of my life. It has exhausted, offended, challenged, infuriated, and scared me half to death.
And I would do it all over again in a heartbeat.
My husband and I have two beautiful daughters. We wanted a big family, and we tried and tried for more. I grieved, for a good long season, that my dream wasn't going to come true. But then I realized that I could take that passion for family - it's dynamics, it's ability to influence, it's God-designed power, and start sharing it with others outside of my own circle. I still get to do what I love. I offer to others my passion, my education, my insight, my successes and my failures in raising children and creating a healthy family.
When I started my parenting journey with these two little girls, I realized pretty quickly that I had some unrealistic expectations. I thought there would be more...help. I am fortunate to be the daughter of 2 marriage and family therapists, so I had a lot of support in that corner, but in other ways, I found myself feeling alone and confused about whether I was doing things correctly or not. I expected there to be more resources for parents. I thought there would be classes, or mentoring, or workshops, or something! I mean, churches are full of families, right? Sadly,that wasn't the case in my community at the time, so I became a lone researcher. I read book after book on parenting and family, some good and some not. I mocked up schedules and routines and menus and consequence charts and whatever I could think of to make my daily routine easier and more peaceful. The reading and researching made me feel less alone in this life consuming task of raising kids. But I would have much rather had someone take me by the hand and walk through it with me for a while.
I would like to be for you what I wish someone had been for me back then. I would like to look you in the eye and say, "It is really hard, but you're not alone." I want to give you tools you can actually use. Help that it actually helpful.
I believe it is possible for us to have the family home experiences that we long for, in realistic, practical ways. We can have less conflict and more peace. We can change the tone. Perfect is not on the menu, so we're going to stop trying to order it. But even in our flawed state, we can learn, grow, and change. If we're willing to humble ourselves, ask for help, and do the work. Change begins at home. And it is not too late.
I am still learning, too. So let's do this together. We're the grownups, it's up to us. Let's truly prepare our kids to become adults, with intention and purpose. Let's guide them to independence and character and a willingness to contribute to their communities. And along the way, we might just grow up in some areas ourselves. Think of it as a bonus.
Stephanie is a wife, mom, foodie, book nerd, over user of sarcasm, and Jesus follower. She is certified in child advocacy through the American Association of Christian Counselors. She and her family currently live in Roseville, California. Eventually they want to move out to the country where they can have barn cats and chickens but can still get to Target in 10 minutes.