By SARAH REIN
When our oldest child was born, I suddenly became a parenting expert. I read books about attachment parenting, baby-led weaning, breastfeeding and developmental milestones. I made homemade baby food, rocked her through every nap, and purchased organic crib bedding. It took several months for me to take her to the church nursery; when I did, I took homemade crackers so they wouldn’t feed her Goldfish. Imagine the look those workers gave each other when I left. The fact that I don’t remember my mother, my husband or my mother-in-law ever pointing out that I’d lost my mind is a credit to them.
As our daughter grew, my confidence began to falter. Why couldn’t I get her to sleep through the night? Was it time to take away the pacifier? Should we get ear tubes, or wait it out? I read more books and became frustrated when they didn’t work. I was doing things right … so why wasn’t she getting with the program? What more did I need to do?
I laugh now when I think about my new-mom crazy phase. I’m no longer under the illusion that I know what I’m doing, or that it would work if I did. We have four children whom I homeschool, and I recently caught myself asking my older kids if anyone knew where the 2-year-old was. Not to worry — his 8-year-old sister had given him an iPad because she thought he was being too loud, and he was hiding behind a chair with it. Children have a way of putting you in your place like few other things in life. With each passing year, I’m realizing that most of the things I’ve anguished over haven’t made any difference. My children are imperfect humans being parented by imperfect humans, and nothing short of sanctification by the Holy Spirit will improve that.
I still struggle with the idea that I have the power to produce polite, smart, well-rounded children who love God and pick up their dirty clothes. Maybe if I have them memorize the right verse or come up with a better routine, everything will fall into place. I have to check my motives regularly. Am I homeschooling because I think it will guarantee their salvation? Am I feeding them organic food (sometimes) because I think it’ll guarantee their health?
Yes, parents, we have been tasked with “training up a child in the way he should go” (Proverbs 22:6). But let’s remind ourselves often that God is sovereign, and it is He alone who saves. As Paul David Tripp wrote in his book “Parenting” (that one is actually worth reading): “So your hope as a parent is not found in your power, your wisdom, your character, your experience, or your success, but in this one thing alone: the presence of your Lord.”
Sarah Rein and her husband, Trey, are raising their four children in Brandon, where Trey is a school principal and Sarah is home a LOT. Luckily she’s an introvert who enjoys reading and learning about new things and people. The Reins love their church family at Lakeside Presbyterian and coffee.