”Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old, he will not stray from it.” Proverbs 22:6

I have always seen these words from my parent to child point of view. Always thinking to myself, “I must train them up properly. I must lead them and show them the way.” And a lot of this is true, until you take a step back on a random Tuesday and see that the lovely, childish eyes in front of you are the ones leading the way.

I quickly realized, I know nothing about parenting except to love them.

If anyone is being trained here, it is me. I am being sharpened and refined by these precious people I call my children. They are the lanterns leading the way.

Let’s start with the littlest one, because the last shall be first, right?

The other night, snuggled in my bed, staring at each other on white pillows, Shep told me this story, “Mom, did you know that when my coach asked me to play third base I really didn’t want to but I didn’t tell him that… and when he asked me to play catcher I didn’t really want to do that either… because sometimes we just have to try something new don’t we?”

 I stared back into his sweet, small face and wanted to fall into a puddle of glorious tears. You see, behind this new sight of “trying” is a child that walked away from his friends this fall back to a lower grade at school because he could not read. Not because he didn’t want to read, or because he didn’t work hard, but because his brain simply struggles with putting letters together to make words.

Shep’s tender heart was torn this year, in more ways than one. I watched his frustration and anger and shame of not measuring up and I’ve seen him feel like he cannot go on. He held all this and still holds it today. Any yet he speaks, “sometimes we just have to try something new, don’t we…”

His perseverance is something I never knew at his age, nor do I know very well today. And still he holds on, my littlest one, teaching me.

Now Sister, where do I even begin with you? Your never wavering grit like your father? Your strong will and voice that’s not scared to speak up? What about all the ups and downs of growing up as a 12-year-old girl in a culture that looks so unsteady?

Add in meeting a standard for teachers and your peers and your self and where does that leave us both?

It leaves us snuggled up in your bed holding on tight. Learning to be still. Learning to trust the arms that hold us. Learning to have fun, learning to let things slide and eating a lot of Chick-fil-A.

We know for certain how much we need each other, not just to work and perform but to stop and embrace what can never be replaced, us.

And there is the boy-man, Braxton. Taller than I, sharp and handsome. He is like a machine. A well-oiled tractor that never stops running, always thinking, always moving, always eager to reach for the unknown. When life gets in his way, I have learned to step to the side and let him pass on through.

For strong minds prefer to learn on their own, and I have learned to be okay with that. I have learned that I cannot control every bit of life. This boy-man has learned to listen and pay attention to his own abilities mixed into the world. I could not have taught that if I tried.

And yet he sits quietly on our front porch at sunset, petting the dogs and takes it all in saying, “isn’t this just the best.”

He is right, they are all right.

Children are the iron that sharpen the Mother. They are the light that leads us to another good day.

Thank you Sheppy for teaching me about real courage. I will wear my armor too and then I will be brave, just like you.

My sweet Sissy you have showed me the real beauty of “constant faith and abiding love”. We will never, ever give up on each other. And the sweetest piece of me will always be you.

Braxton, you know everyday that you are enough for this world. You know that you are the only you and aim want to keep it that way. You are so right buddy. You are teaching me to just be me and in the process, loving me as the best Mother for you.

So maybe we are all just leading each other? I think I like it that way.

Happy Mother’s Day to all of you! May we all continue to learn and grow as children and mothers do.