Parenting and Zookeeping

Last week, I read the blog of a family who is losing their baby boy to cancer. After the flurry of piercing emotions had passed, I started thinking about the challenges and responsibilities of parenting. I came home that night and held my son a little more. I watched him play, studying his movements so that if need be, I could recall them at a later day if he were not around to play the part.

Parenting is the strangest responsibility. Almost every rule that applies to wild animals, applies just as appropriately to children. “Don’t turn your back on them,” “They may seem tame, but can become very aggressive,” “They can smell fear,” and my personal favorite, “If you are wearing a coat or vest, spread it open like a cape so that you appear larger.” I never thought that I would think the thoughts or feel the feelings that I’ve thought and felt as a parent – both positive AND negative. On the negative side, you almost understand child abuse. You don’t condone it, but you understand how a person could get there. I know not every parent has had this experience, but for those who have, you can relate. Jenn and I have been so angry at the Bubba for whatever reason, that we’ve almost lost it. In those moments, you realize that the line is a lot easier to cross than you thought it was. Granted, we would never hurt him, but my point is that parenting takes you to your limit…and then asks you for a few more steps. You will think thoughts that, in your mind, make you a bad person, incapable of true love and undeserving of such responsibility. But on the positive side, you will feel love like you’ve never felt before. So many times, I will look at London and be consumed with thankfulness, pleading with God that He give us long lives together.

I was talking to a friend last week about parenting. We admitted to each other that we are both paranoid about teaching our children. I’m not talking about the ABC’s. I’m talking about God, loving people, faithfulness, etc. These are huge concepts that we don’t fully understand ourselves. How are we supposed to teach our children about these things when we don’t even understand them? I know the answer is that we simply do our best. To tell London, “This is what I know of God…” And I firmly believe in letting London know about my doubts and fears – to tell him that I struggle with disbelief. I don’t want him to hide behind his fears. Because if God’s sovereignty and my hopelessness cannot co-exist, in order that God would intersect and remove my fear, then what good is faith?

Obviously, there are some things that I would rather London NOT learn from me. Take for example, my recent trip downtown. I finished running my errands and as I was walking back to my truck, I realized that in my hands were two bags. One from my hair salon, and one from Bath and Body Works. A man must never be without hair product and moisturizer. “Dear Lord,” I thought. “Let this not become a generational sin.”

I want so much for my son. I want him to genuinely love people. To learn about giving. I want my answers to be more than “because I said so.” I want him to know that many times, people are marked by fear and insecurity. But I want him to also know about a God of hope. I want him to see me love my wife with all the passion a broken man can muster. I want him to see all of my cracks and bruises, not to protect him from his own, but to show him that he is not alone in his experiences. I suppose what I want is to live out my life honestly before my children. There is such a dichotomy to life. We are both cursed, and blessed. We are faithless, but love God with all our hearts. I want my son to see the struggle, and hopefully, the victory.

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