How to change the world

Several years ago, a friend and I were discussing mission trips and ministry, and as the mom of several small children, she wondered at what point in life she might ever be able to do anything like that. I, as a mom of older kids (since this was before we once-again had young kids), reminded her that parenting those little ones was her ministry. She and I both knew that was true, but sometimes you just need a friend to remind you.

I get what she was saying. Some days, I think it would be easier to minister in a third-world village than to love my family well day after day after day. If you dig a well, you’ll see folks immediately celebrate clean water, but the rewards of parenting are not so immediate.

When Mother Teresa received the Nobel Prize, she was asked, “What can we do to promote world peace?” She answered “Go home and love your family.”

The thing with motherhood is it’s just so All The Time. I dearly love these people of mine, but the piles o’ laundry, the meals (three times a day, people!), the hole the dog dug in the back yard, the slat that just broke on the boy’s bed… oh, my! And that’s all just an ordinary kind of day.

Then there are the HARD days. The days where I try on-the-fly to access that mental file with all the adoption/trauma/parenting info I’ve gleaned from the books, classes, and videos. Even when I feel like I’m doing it “right,” I wonder if it’s working. If this is the best it will ever get. How long the tantrums will continue. If it’s actually possible to teach empathy. Or respect. Or the value of truth-telling.

Last week after dealing with way too many big feelings, she sat for a long time gazing out the front door window to calm down; this was a big step in the right direction.
out the window

Next week makes three years since our youngest two moved in. We still have tough days (some downright doozies!) — but we’ve come a long way, baby. To quote Jen Hatmaker in For the Love:

“In the Rolodex of privileges as one of God’s own, certainly our status as overcomers is one of the highest.”

Parenting kids from trauma backgrounds isn’t easy. But I look at what these two have already come through in their short lives and I believe it: they are overcomers.

hot chocolate

The thing with parenting is you won’t know how your kids will turn out til they’ve flown from the nest. And even after they’ve launched, things can change. So I pray. And I hope. (And I wonder how such a small word as “hope” can carry such weight.)

A few resources that have most helped me:

I highly recommend connecting with other foster or adoptive parents. If there’s not a group in your area, consider starting one like we did at our previous church. Or find one online; I’m part of a closed group on facebook that’s been helpful and I’d be glad to send you a link so you can request to join.

Another thought: you don’t have be parenting traumatized and/or adopted kids to be changing the world. Each and every one of you, parent-friends, are making a difference in the future; not just the future of your own kids but in the world.

Keep on loving, y’all. Even when it’s hard. Or maybe, especially when it’s hard.