“Children are a heritage from the Lord,
offspring a reward from him.” Psalm 127:3 (NIV)
I remember returning to work after our first child was born and crying because I wanted so desperately to be at home with him. I didn’t have the heart of a career woman – I had the heart of a stay-at-home mother. I worked with social workers and I remember distinctly having a conversation with an older, wiser friend, telling her that I wanted to be home with my baby because he needed me. She was on the other side of parenting – her children were all in their teens and I have never forgotten her reply.
“Our kids always need us. When they are babies, our job is more physically demanding with limited sleep and hands-on care required for them to stay safe. As they get older, the physical demands may lessen, but the emotional demands increase – being physically present so that when our kids need to talk to us, we are there to offer advice, to keep our mouths shut but our ears open and to make sure they know they are loved at home.”
I’m now about three to four years past the baby stage with our youngest. Gone are the sleepless nights and the hands-on physical care required of little ones. We are fully into the throws of grade school and adolescence and her words come back to remind me that my kids need me here at home with them as much or more than they did when they were babies.
These words aren’t designed to make anyone feel guilty. There are women who are better moms because they work outside the home full time or part time. There are women who have wanted nothing more than to be a stay-at-home, full time mother and are blessed to have that privilege. And there are women who have a heart’s desire to be one or the other and because life’s not perfect, they are living the opposite of the life they would choose if they could.
Regardless of which description best fits you, I’m here to encourage each parent, moms and dads, that our kids need us. They don’t need us perfect. They don’t need wonder woman or superman. They just need us. They need us to put down our phones, step away from our computers (speaking to myself here) and do life with them. It is when we are doing life that conversations start. It is when cookies are available (store bought works just as well as homemade) or a drive-thru ice cream cone on the way home from work and school that emotions are shared… lives are lived… connections are strengthened between parents and children.
The best part? It’s going to look different for every family. Some families will enjoy family game nights while others would rather serve together at church or a local organization. Some families will eat dinner together every night while others will sit down to breakfast because of shift work. It doesn’t matter what your family looks like. It just matters that we as parents remember… our kids need us at every stage, and my husband and I want to be there for them through each one.
© Cheri Swalwell 2016