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Parenting Wins and Regrets

My husband was traveling for work last week, but one morning he sent me an email with a link to an article called, "If You're Going to Spoil Them, Do It Here," along with his own comment - I think we are doing pretty good. It's always an encouragement to me when he decides to share something he's pondering in regards to fatherhood, and my curiosity was piqued as I tried to figure out what the gist of the article might be. I encourage you to read the whole thing, but for those who are happy to settle for the Cliff Notes, I'll do my best for you here.

In short, the author conceded that it's really easy to spoil our kids with the wrong things - more plastic toys, sugary treats, fancier electronics, or cheap trinkets that they break or loose interest in just hours (or minutes) after the purchase. I think we've all been there and wished, at times, that we had chosen a different path for ourselves and our children. The wave of entitlement and constant desire for more that marks our culture is something I feel deeply as a Christian mom, and I find myself fighting against those influences nearly every day. I don't want to be a consumer, and I don't want my kids to become that either.

But on the flip side, this article says there are 3 areas where you can release the guilt and instead embrace spoiling your kids. Those areas are: books, travel, and good food. I love this list, and my husband is right, we actually perform pretty well as parents in these areas! That's not me boasting - that's me recognizing that we had amazing parents and other role models ourselves that lived out this wisdom in front of us, as well as the grace of God directing us as we continue this ongoing parenting journey. There is always something new to learn and another skill to hone. At least we will never get bored!

But as I considered the areas where we've done well as parents, I also took some time to consider the choices we've made in the past 15ish years that I wish we would have done differently. Here are the two that are often at the forefront of my mind lately:

I wish I had chosen to birth our children at home.

Don't get me wrong, I'm so thankful to have 3 happy kids, but if I'm honest with myself and with you - I must admit that their births in the hospital have not led to their best health and were not joyful occasions. Instead, I remember a lot of fear. Panic. Some harsh words. I remember feeling totally out of control and at the mercy of the hospital staff - as if I was the last person to have a say in what was happening to me, my body, and my baby. I recall bright lights, unfamiliar faces, lots of beeping sounds, rushed and stressed nurses, and constant interruptions day and night in the 3-day hospital stay that followed. In our modern health care system, pregnancy and delivery is treated more like a disease than it is a divine miracle, and I'll always feel a little sad that I didn't get to experience more of the miraculous part in the comfort of my own home, surrounded by familiar people and comforting sights and sounds. Some of my friends and colleagues who are a decade or two younger than me and just starting their own families have opted for home births, and they speak in awe about the whole experience. I wish I had a similar story to tell! I feel like my whole family would have been better off if my husband and I had considered the less-traveled birthing path.

I also wish I had not crumbled under the pressure and agreed to vaccinate our children.

I didn't know much about vaccinations back then, but I had been encouraged by my sister-in-law to at least request a delayed schedule. I did attempt to do just that, but was immediately met with a stern rebuke and threats to withdraw my children's medical care under this particular pediatrician if I did not toe the line and follow what "the research" said was in their best interest. It's horrifying to me that a mother's gut instinct is so violently overridden, and I've learned the hard way not to relinquish my rights and acquiesce to medical professionals like that any more. It's a hard lesson to learn. I have no doubts that at least one, and possibly all 3, of my kids has suffered some degree of vaccine injury, and if I could go back in time knowing what I know now, I never would have set foot in that pediatrician's office. I won't go into details here, but if you'd like to understand this topic better, I can recommend the book, "Turtles All The Way Down," and this podcast, just to get you started. If neither of those convinces you, I don't know that anything will.

While I do wish I would have chosen differently for my kids in these two regards, it's important to communicate that I don't beat myself up over those decisions. I did the best I could with the knowledge and understanding I had at the time. And I believe God can redeem any situation, not just the mistakes we make with the best of intentions, but even the mistakes we make on purpose and in clear defiance of His laws. He's just that good and that forgiving, and He's in the business of making masterpieces out of our messes. Isn't that reassuring news? I can't go back and change the past, but I can cheer on the future! And so can you.

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