It’s no secret my siblings and I were raised by wolves.
Being the product of a desert raised dweller growing up in the 80’s, my mom’s philosophy to mothering was this, “Outside!” My five siblings and I spent hours on end out of eyesight, playing in the gullies and washes of our Arizona home. We only came home at dusk or to be fed or when someone needed stitches; and we didn’t return to the house until our wildly concocted stories of why Child A hit her head on a pipe matched. Besides, mom didn’t really need to know the reason why Doyle needed stitches when he “fell” off the homemade seasaw out we made out of a coffee table; nor did mom really need to know the reason why Becky had severe rope burn was because we were playing Trapeze at the top of a two-story tall tree.
This wolf type childhood embellished many of our Shaw traits which included being strong-willed, always seeing the possibility, and pushing all that much harder to make something happen. It served me well when I became a teenage mom, I thought, if my mom can raise six kids, work full time and be married to the nursing program–why can’t I?
2005 became the year of triumph as I heard the roars of the “Shaw Clan” over the noise of the University’s packed gymnasium for graduation. In a matter of seconds, the courage and bravery of my childhood fueled my early years of mothering. I was either insane or had some bravery in order to to be a full time mom, wife, and college student for foour INSANE years to accomplish a bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice–a degree that has served me quite well with my kids. 🙂
This of course, means it’s very apparent my children are somewhat being raised the same way.
At times it was embarrassing because my kids would act out of line but then I realized something, my kids weren’t afraid to take risks.
I began to embrace I was that mom with those kids but I struggled with it for a long time, being surrounded by sweet and precious moms, reading blogs about the preciousness of motherhood, and watching tv shows where moms resembled Martha Stewart.
I am none of those. NONE.
Don’t get me wrong, when I first experienced motherhood post utreo–I freaked about SIDS/kidnappings/locking baby in the car (by the way I have the lock mobile on speed dial) / breastfeeding / bottle feeding/ making babyfood/ GMO’s/ too much TV / FBI Surveillance / yelling/ not yelling / and DHHS stocking me. But after college graduation when my brood grew to three very loud, ADHD, boisterous, strong willed kids, I realized little things like not washing hands, sharing germs, boy farts in the middle of the store, and Sunday School time outs didn’t label me as a bad mom. My kids do not have a sweet, precious mom, instead they’ve been blessed to have a wolf raised mother combined with a fiery personality who doesn’t know when to shut up, lacks the gene for gourmet meals, has a criminal record, and freaks when clutter makes her feel OCD. And instead of seeing sweet, well mannered children, I found myself face to face with mini me’s in one shape or form.
Over time I realized this lack of preciousness has been both a gift and blessing to my kids. Why? Brave moms raise brave kids. That’s right, that crazy mom produces kids who are resilient, tough, able to think for themselves and know where the boundaries are. After all, they pushed and took risks to understand the cause and effect of set boundaries. And despite how our modern parenting has turned the word risk into a bad word, risk taking is a disciple making, Jesus following quality.
Jesus’ disciples weren’t your typical, everyday men. They had reputations, were known for murder, performing hard labor jobs, or robbing others of their money but these men changed the world. They opted to take the ultimate risk–leaving everything they knew and loved to follow Jesus. That risky choice etched their names into stories recorded on ancient scrolls for the future generations like us to read in awe.
All passionately lived and obsessed over kingdom work–changing lives and dying as martyrs. The difference between these men (and women) boils down to one key identifier: Risk. And this is how I want to raise my kids, I them to pattern their lives after Jesus’ Disciples– to have their hearts engulfed in spreading the Gospel.
So here’s the question, are we really brave enough to trust God with our kids?
Do we really believe God’s word for them, “ For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.”
Do we really want our kids to be sold out for Jesus?
“Large crowds were traveling with Jesus, and turning to them he said: “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters—yes, even his own life—he cannot be my disciple. And anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.”
And really… what if our children suffer, fail, lose, and or come up against life’s greatest pains for the sake of being conformed to the image of Christ?
“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters.”
To shy away from this world in order to conform to His image means this: risk everything, risk. it. all. And this is what I truly want to see in my kids. Sure, it will be messy, dirty and marked with suffering. Most assuredly they will journey through some of the deepest valleys known to man–risking everything as they are called according to His purpose.
And most likely I will freak, question how I raised them, and go OCD in organizing my Tupperware as I worry over the choices and mistakes they are making under my roof. But I realized something, if I am too afraid of the world and all the evil it holds, how can my children learn to problem solve, think for themselves, and try a million different ways to accomplish something if I raise them in fear?
Our job isn’t to act as a shield, hiding them from the world, nor should we act as lawnmower moms–creating a clear cut paths without any obstacles. Our job is to love them through their embarrassing moments, to coach them through their mistakes, to give wisdom and to teach discernment in their failures and success as Jesus goes about his messy business of conforming our child to his image. Because if we don’t allow them to face hardship, to take risks, and to encounter our cold world–they won’t become great disciples. They won’t have a passionate faith of their own where they are running straight for the heart of God.
So let us go about the business of raising brave kids through moments where they will have the choice to choose courage.
Let us open the boundaries wide so they can choose risk, fail, try again and succeed so they can choose perseverance.
Little mama, be brave and let go–just enough for them to experience what it means to take courage, to persevere, to risk—to be sold out for Christ.