We are parents who started out too young to be parents. Ones who didn’t stand a chance but chanced to stand strong against the odds, who held each other at night while babies slept and storms raged outside and the worry etched deep.
We are parents who bungled the mothering and the fathering early and learned along the way to do things better. Ones who spoke too sharply and said sorry and got forgiven. Ones who corrected swift and hugged gentle and long and prayed with children for better choices and smoother days.
We are parents who were terrified to have a second child because there was too little money and too much fear for what we couldn’t provide. Ones who found out God makes a way for two children and more when there is trust.
We are parents who read aloud to children who could read on their own long after laps were outgrown because the cuddling is where the joy comes from. Ones who cried through lines in books read and movies watched twice because it was just as sad the second time.
We are parents who rolled pennies for baby shoes and collected soda bottles to return for gas money to make it to work. Parents who once begged the electric company for a few days’ mercy because the little ones would be cold.
We are parents who modeled the wildly imperfect and shrugged off catastrophes, who brushed tears from little faces over toppled drinks because broken cups don’t matter but broken spirits do.
We are parents who held grownup children and cried open and hard when memory swarmed because in the memories we get to live love all over again. Parents unashamed to express love, because real love is not ashamed.
We are parents who drove old cars and thanked good friends for shade-tree car repairs and tried to always do for others whatever we could because it was money we lacked but love we had.
We are parents who started pea fights and played pranks and smeared the unsuspecting with cake batter, because life should include more smiles than sadness.
We are parents who held close through miscarriage in early May and buried a newborn in a little white box on an April afternoon while breezes blew heather in clay pots by gravestones too small to belong.
We are parents who sat long at baseball practices with coolers and chairs and packed suppers, who shared ball park fries and worked in the concession stand to pay player fees. Ones who coached and team-mom’ed and fund-raised and raked fields and ran fences and cheered hoarse.
We are parents who shouldered criticism for too much sheltering. Parents who shrank back when told it was normal for siblings to duke it out, who didn’t agree because we wanted our young to hold one another close to the heart. Parents who are grateful for kids who learned to peaceably resolve conflict and have grown up close.
We are parents who to our knowledge have never really been written off as uncool, and who as a result tend to forget our age.
We are parents who taught our young ones there was nothing they couldn’t do or be, and believed it. Parents who said aim high and never outgrow being a student and go for the dream, whatever it might be because we would always be their home team.
We are parents who conceived seven and raised five as individually as we knew how. Parents who encouraged each to “be who God wired you to be” because no two sand grains are the same and neither are two people. Parents who said there’s more than one path to a goal and the adventure is finding the one that fits best–or blazing one brand new.
We are parents who sold the house and dragged kids across the state to plant a church, who asked them to see with us past what we possessed to what God was building, who worked hard and cried the questions embraced in the quiet of night and begged God for glimpses of His plan when we couldn’t see it through the fog. Parents who established and released and brought them back home again to move on forward. Ones who have watched wide-eyed and awestruck as God has shown us through our children the very answers we craved.
We are parents who taught our children to love fiercely and forever, because that is the only way we know how to love.
We are parents who have held babies and toddlers and children and teens and adults through aches of the heart, have cried with them and prayed with them and in our flailing efforts and by God’s amazing grace helped them rebuild hope when life tore it right through.
We are parents who have been taught by our children more times than we could count.
We are parents who made many mistakes, who wrapped up in grace and tried always to offer it back. Parents grateful for every tiny thing, who hoped our children would in turn walk in gratefulness down paths all their own. Parents who know God is the giver of all good things even when we misinterpret what good means in this life. Ones who believe God and what He gives truly is enough.
We are parents who made home our discovery hub, who sewed halves of parent hat and teacher hat into one and joined in the learning adventure to make a classroom out of life.
We are parents who filled our home with music, left instruments lying around for the playing and listened to new songs birthed and shared. Parents who would rather hear our kids play and sing than anyone else in the world.
We are parents who have openly given, fiercely protected, madly loved.
We are parents who get frustrated, slip and swear, put things off, take on too much, neglect the good we know we ought to do.
We are parents who have watched sons choke up as their brides walk the aisle toward them, parents who blessed them with the wish that they will experience the depth of love we have known with one another all these years, and who will always bless those on either end of the aisle because this love we’ve known is the best blessing we can wish.
We are parents who stay home when those who remain go and do, usually because there is no money left for us for the going and doing. Parents who are okay with being left behind because we like being together. Ones who both eagerly await and dread the very-soon day when there will be money for the going and the doing because those who remained will be gone.
We are parents who drop off and pick up, who arrange and rearrange schedules, who cancel what we had planned in favor of a kid’s activity, who find the funds one way or another for that unexpected need. Parents who do whatever it takes to make things happen for their family because that’s what parents do.
We are parents who carry regrets that go back decades–regrets of parenting blunders that cause us to cringe but make our children laugh.
We are parents who joy in our children’s every accomplishment, who grieve with their every loss, who will always call them babies even when they wrinkle with age. We are parents fist-bump proud of the amazing people our offspring have become and who count them our closest friends.
We are parents who hold hands on the dock and look to the future and smile at the past and try to live fully present in the now because every singular moment in this life is a gift to be savored. Ones who share heart to heart and talk of things no one else would comprehend, say things only we two understand because our hearts are one.
We are parents who are blessed to be.