I had an interesting conversation with an old friend last week - really about all sorts of things, most of them parent-related (since we're both, you know, parents and all). The one thing that lingered in my mind afterwards was something he said that I never responded to, and I spent last night cooking dinner and responding to myself on this point. As Husband reminded me, I couldn't very well call this person now to tell them "I have something negative to say about something you said" - although that is just what I would do were it not for the extra tact gene God sent me in the person of Husband (I was in the bathroom in Heaven as a baby when they handed out tact, apparently, whereas he got second helpings). Anyway, here is the part of the conversation that sparked so much noodling on my part, and what I would have said had I been paying attention at the time.
What my friend said, when we were talking about faith and parenthood and the intersection of the two, was that he felt that his own spiritual growth was on hold at this point in his life, and the important thing as a parent was to make sure the kids were in right place (church, school, home) where their own growth could flourish. Hmmm. Wow that bothered me when I got down to thinking about it!
I am all for putting "personal goals" on hold during these wild years of parenting small children. I don't need to take up tennis, learn to sew, or train for a half-marathon right now; I have enough on my plate, and I'm not shoving anything to do with the boys off to make room for anything extra for me. Except in one particular area: my journey towards God. I have to have that right now. I need to focus on it far more than I need to exercise more, drink more water, sleep more, or any of the other things I'm missing out on. I need to have every bit of prayer time I can grab, every page I can read, every liturgy I can sit through and soak up from my toes to my head. That is where I want my strength to come from right now - not from my burgeoning interest in yoga, or tennis, or needlepoint.
The second, and almost-as-important reason I was upset by what he said was this: we are raising Christian adults. Not Christian children, meant to be trapped forever in Noah's Ark stories and Cherub Choir and Youth Group. They need to know what it is to be an adult with a strong faith -- what it sounds like (sometimes a cry, sometimes a shout of joy), what it looks like (spending more time on your knees then you ever thought possible), what it smells like (incense and salty tears) -- all of that and more. If I don't let the boys see all those things I'm keeping from them the most important part of their education. And while I fail in a lot of things as a parent, that's one thing I don't want to mess up.