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Promises

Today is my older son’s birthday. He is ten. A whole decade ago, I was in the hospital, exhausted, and wondering if I would have the strength to go on this journey called parenthood. It turns out that I did and did not at the same time. Parenthood is a journey in which you learn more about your own failures and your own immaturity than about how to teach a child to grow up. I feel that the longer I am on this road, the more I am aware of how little I knew that day in the hospital when they handed me my son. I had an overwhelming feeling then of fear, of not knowing anything about how to be a parent, of hopes yet to be realized and I also felt that weight of responsibility that comes when someone is totally dependent on you.

It is ten years later and I feel the same way, only in a more poignant way. The weight of responsibility only gets heavier as you trade the day to day worries of diapers, naps, and feedings for character training, patience in frustrating situations, and grace during rebellion. I feel more now that what I am as a parent has a more eternal effect than I initially realized. At first, it seemed that eighteen years was plenty of time to teach a child how to become an adult. Now that a decade has passed, I feel that a hundred years would not be enough time, because let’s be honest. We never really reach adulthood. Our whole lives are about becoming more mature, learning to reach our fullest potential, all while keeping in mind our very real limitations.  We never actually ever arrive at the place of total maturity that we dream of when we are children or that we assume that we have arrived at when we are in our twenties.

Sometimes, it would be nice to be able to take a breather to rest, but life doesn’t let us do that.  As he likes to remind me every time I tell him to stop growing, ” I can’t stop it.”  And he is right. None of us can stop time, stop bad things from happening, stop learning through our situations. We are all on this road called life and we can only do the best that we can in the moment that we have it.  Sometimes that best is really not that great, but, you know, time moves on and so must we.

I started this quilt for my son several years ago when all I wanted was to make him something that he would like. It was a simple feeling that comes naturally to those who like to make stuff. I cut up all the pieces and pieced together the top and then it sat for a couple of years because I got busy…until a few months ago when I realized that the little boy who used to dance with me around the living room was about to celebrate his first decade. I decided that that quilt needed to be finished.

As I have worked on it the last few months, this quilt has become more than just a blanket to keep on a bed. It has become a symbol for all that I wish for him, for all that a mother can promise a child, and a reminder that God is the author and keeper of all these promises. As much as I can wish for or promise to my children, I know that I will never be able to fulfill them all. I do not have the strength. I knew that on that day ten years ago when he was born. But I also knew this. That I was not alone. That no matter what was coming our way, we had promises from God that we knew would be kept and that is how I have the strength to do this job called parenting.

I think in so many ways, I have needed to make this quilt more than he might need it in the future. I needed to be reminded of these promises right now when we seem to be on the edge of so much change.  None of us knows what the next ten years or even a hundred years will hold. But I believe there is one who does know and that is all I need to know to keep going.

Every time I look at this quilt, I hope that I can remember those promises, even when the days are uncertain. I hope that he will learn more about them and that they will be as much comfort to him as they have been to me while making this quilt. I hope so much and know so little, that I must put all my trust in those promises that I know will be kept by the one who has the power to do so.