It is difficult to focus on anything when I am involuntarily wearing a thirty-pound toddler necklace. The banalities of stay-at-home parenthood — simply making it through the day — tend to overshadow the goal of raising the next generation of leaders.

I get bogged down and discouraged because I have to vacuum up cereal several times a day, referee sibling contentions, help three kids with homework simultaneously, and do my own class work. The cycle is never ending.

We took the Princess and the Monster on our ordinary mission Saturday to buy khakis, training pants & wipes, and shoes for me. My husband had jokes about how utterly unstylish my current footwear is. Of course, I am always the last one to get new clothes and shoes because we are blessed with so many children 🙂 He had just helped me decide on a pair of flats when a young man approached us.

This young man named Cole prayed with us and spoke words of insight about our two children who were present. It was an unusual encounter, but I was encouraged. Ever since that day, I have been hearing messages about the importance of raising children.

I have always been good with children. I began babysitting when I was eleven years old. I volunteered in the nursery at church as a teenager. I worked at a children’s shoe store for years. I just wasn’t sure I wanted any children of my own. Thinking about my own childhood kept me from wanting to take the chance that someone would hurt my children.

Then I met my husband, who already had a son and a daughter. When he obtained custody of his son, we decided that I would stop working and prepare him for kindergarten. My mother-in-law bought him a workbook with a CD ROM and we got down to business. Number One was totally prepared for kindergarten. In fact, he didn’t learn anything new until the second semester. By then, I was well into the second trimester of my pregnancy with The Genius.

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This is the first time in eight years that I have not had one child in training pants and one in diapers. I am going to miss the feeling of tiny appendages assaulting my internal organs while I am trying to sleep. The carrying season is over for me, but the nurturing season is in full swing. I was blessed to have Number One to set the example of how to treat younger siblings. He has instilled in all his siblings the legacy of loving and valuing one other. I have not had to deal with jealousy or fear that they would harm each other. With each new addition, they have extended their love.

Parenthood is a privilege and a responsibility that should not be taken lightly. Our children have been entrusted to us for a short time. They are not pawns. They are not leverage. They are not dolls. They are small people with intellect, emotion, and will. They are priceless. So be careful with them.

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