faith, family & friends

the practise of lifelong parenting

February 6, 2012

When Sarah Bessey announced she was going to host a Practises of Parenting Blog Carnival on her blog I was excited and disappointed, because I love her posts on her practises of mothering that she does to help her enjoy being a mother now, but I’m not a mother, so none of my ideas have been actually practised yet.

But then Sarah suggested that if we’re not parents, we ask someone else to guest post on our blog and I immediately thought of my mum. No parent is perfect of course, but I think she is an amazing mother. She believes in me and my sister entirely and has always encouraged us to find what we’re good at and do it. She and my dad also taught us strong values of hospitality, generosity, perseverance and kindness. We are certainly blessed daughters.

So I am so proud and honoured to introduce my mother, Margaret, to you in her first guest post for this blog!  

1985 Scotland

Fiona asked me to write about practices of mothering, linking in with the ideas Sarah has been writing about on her blog. The hardest bit was always going to be choosing what to write about. I finally decided – since I’ve been a Mum for 27 years – to write from where I’m at now not where I was when the children were small.

The Practice of Lifelong Parenting

Children are for life, not just the first 18 years. From the day they are born you need to steadily train them from the total dependence of newborns to total independence. It’s like unraveling a cord between you.  If you are successful, when they leave home you will be bursting with pride at their ability to cope without you but simultaneously you will be so gutted that they no longer need you.  Some mothers get stuck at this point in their lives feeling lost and redundant.  I loved every stage as my two daughters grew up but I’ve learned  that you cannot live in the past.

Last Christmas I created a Blurb book about 100 things I had learned as a mum. These ranged from practical points such as “If you think your child may be feeling sick fetch a bowl now. Waiting can be a big mistake” or “The world of pre-school mums is littered with unfinished conversations” to the spiritual “God forgives us without limit so apply the same principal to your children”.

Bruges 1998

Writing that book made me realise that so far I’ve been a mother for 27 years but I could easily be a mother for another 27 years. Everything I invested in my children in the dependent era has become a joy and pleasure in the independent era. We don’t live close to each other but catch up between visits through texts, calls, emails and social media. We laugh and cry, we pray for each other. I realise that they support me as much as I support them. Their faith inspires mine when doubts creep in.

When you have small children you never think about parenting with grown up children but although the first 18 years were very special, I believe the future will be just as good – and maybe the best is yet to come. In John chapter 2 we see Jesus interacting with Mary, His mother, as an adult. As a child He totally believed in her and trusted her to love and care for him. As He is about to start His ministry she totally believes in Him and trusts Him. Like the water which was turned into wine she knows that the best is yet to come.

To read more practises of parenting today, go over to Sarah Bessey’s blog

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  • This is such a treasure for those of us still mothering small dependents. I will remember that metaphor, the cord unraveling. Thank you for showing us the long road.

    • Mum

      Unravelling that cord can be a risky business because we don’t want them to be hurt. I’ve had times when I just want to jerk it back in tight again! But you have to keep doing it in order to achieve independence. When it is too far out for us to protect our loved ones we have to entrust them to God’s protection

  • I love to hear from experienced mothers who affirm the total experience instead of trying to scare us about the teen years! 🙂 This is a beautiful reflection. Thank you!

    • Mum

      The teen years are built on the toddler years. That makes it all the more worthwhile to persevere with good parenting to build their characters when they are little. And I tried to just keep listening and talking through the teen years even at times which weren’t great.

  • Ok, I got teary-eyed just reading the introduction and then the tears continued the whole way through. Of course, they were accompanied by laughter – “The world of pre-school mums is littered with unfinished conversations” – SO VERY TRUE!!! Thank you both for sharing your beautiful hearts!

  • Absolutely beautiful – in thought, in writing, in heart! I agree with everyone else – I got a little teary reading this. Thank you so much.

    • Mum

      Thanks Sarah. When I had small children I was so grateful to wiser mums with more experience who taught me good “practices of parenting”

  • Oh, I love this. I love how you introduce your mother. I hope I can be introduced that way. The pictures are perfect.

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