Now those who see this title and know me well will think, “what does she know about parental love”, because I have no children! That doesn’t stop me from knowing about parental love though! I mean take this for example, my dog, Sherman, is on medication this week that makes him pee “over the moon”! So, my husband and I have tag-teamed for about the last five nights to wake up every one to two hours to take Sherman outside. I know, roll your eyes, but is that not similar to all the mothers who get up every hour to check on a sick child? I know, for those of you who don’t have pets that are like children to you, I have probably lost you as a reader now – well, that’s o.k., but stick with this here and I guarantee you will believe that I do understand parental love by the end of this entry!
I believe that I have had the best parents in the world and they modeled what “parental love” is very well. They worked hard to provide financially for me and my sister, they made sure our basic needs were met (food, clothing, shelter), they attended every performance or sporting event we were in, and they showed affection. My parents listened to us, too ~ I remember as a teenager standing at the end of the kitchen counter watching my mom cook dinner and talking non-stop! My mom always made sure our holidays were special and decorated our home beautifully for that added special “touch”! And, as I have grown into an adult and made choices, at times, that my parents were less than thrilled with, they supported me ~ they respected the choice I made and NEVER turned their back on me. The greatest thing my parents did for me, though, that I’m not sure I realized until I was an adult, is that they prayed for me! They prayed often and fervently and entrusted me into God’s hands.
I remember as a little girl playing “mommy” with my baby dolls. Soon my interest in dolls ended when there would be kittens – lots of kittens over the years! – baby bunnies and baby birds to “mother”. Unfortunately, most of my attempts at saving birds never came to fruition and I would experience the loss of each one I tried to save. And, of course, many of the kittens wouldn’t make it either, but it was a good way to learn about death and grief and the preciousness of life as I grew into an adult. And, as a teenager I “mothered” many children in the neighborhood for short periods of time while I babysat for them. I LOVED children and still do!
When my husband I married we decided parenting wasn’t something we wanted to do; there is an age difference between us and we felt it was best not to have children of our own. Of course, then we changed our mind for a short period of time with no results and realized God had another plan! Many years later we discovered I had endometriosis and were told it was good we didn’t desperately want children, like so many couples do that have to deal with the disappointment of not having their dream come true. Although, I think one of the main reasons that we were able to accept “the news” was because we were, in essence, co-parenting a little girl by the name of Ashley. You see, Ashley’s mom is one of my dearest friends and we live just one house apart. When Ashley was born I began babysitting her, but little did we know that the babysitting “job” would become one of the greatest relationships I would ever have in my life. When you “babysit” a child each and every day of their life and build that child into your family life on the weekends and special occasions that child really becomes like a “child” to you. Today, my “little” Ashley is 21! And, I find myself a little nostalgic!
When I think back over the last 21 years with Ashley I am amazed at the love I have had for this person. Oh, she was just so cute as a little baby, toddler and girl! I was proud to tote her around town to the grocery, church, library, or anywhere – she was one of those children that you could take anywhere – she was well-behaved and well-mannered. She was even invited to weddings where other children were not! I remember snuggling at nap time to read the Barney nursery rhyme book and how she would end up reading them to me because she had them all memorized! Ashley loved Barney ~ we watched Barney every day! Ashley also loved Susie! Susie was her soft baby that she carried for comfort – you know, the one I would have to “sneak” to wash while she would be napping and then put her back quickly! 🙂 As Ashley grew there have been rough patches ~ times when she has made choices that I didn’t approve of, times when she has pulled away from me, but one thing has always remained – I love her! One of the greatest moments I shared with Ashley was when she was about 4 years old and we were driving down the freeway singing along with a child’s hymn tape and Ashley began to cry ~ I pulled over to figure out what was wrong and she was crying and telling me she didn’t know why she was crying, but that she felt Jesus and at that very moment “my” little girl accepted Jesus into her heart ~ it was the most precious prayer I will ever have shared with someone.
And, when I think of parental love I also think of how God parents us. Have you ever thought about how we break God’s heart when we make choices and don’t follow His commandments? Have you ever cried over a child’s choice and then thought about how God weeps when we do the very same thing? Or, have you ever been in the bleachers cheering on your child in a sporting event and have you ever thought about God doing the same thing with us ~ I mean God has a very good seat in His bleachers and He cheers us on every minute of every day! The Bible tells us that God loves us so much that He knows just how many hairs are on our head! That is amazing! I know that I find great comfort in knowing that I have a Father in Heaven who is watching me every second of every day ~ cheering for me or weeping for me, both bring me great comfort.
So, you see, when we think of Parental Love in the terms of the way God loves us, we all have a better understanding of it. Today I am thankful for a God who parents me. I’m thankful for my parents who are just the best in the whole wide world. I’m thankful that I have had the opportunity to parent a little girl, who is now 21 years old named Ashley. And, I’m thankful that I am also called “Cora’s mom” and “Sherman’s mom” ~ they may be just dogs to a lot of folks that see them, but to me they are my fur-babies and I love them dearly.
Join me in hugging a child today and when you do remember that is what God does each and every day if we just tune in to feel His embrace.