There are endless scenarios that can send a mother into a downward spiral of fear. But that’s just not how God designed us to live.
“Is this chair taken?”
I glanced up from the book I was reading, poolside, and offered a welcoming smile to the woman inquiring.
My husband and I were on vacation celebrating our 15th wedding anniversary thousands of miles from home. It was our first time leaving our four young children behind for more than a night or two and this vacation was designed to be respite care. A much needed quieter and slower pace, a reprieve from all things work and parenting.
The woman standing beside me smiled wide and made herself cozy in the neighboring chair. A few undirected, but louder than necessary, comments and it was obvious she was interested in conversation. So I put down my book and obliged.
She was vacationing alone. A working vacation, she called it, as she had a job she could take anywhere.
I took the bait and she kept going – something about helping families secure college scholarships and grants, she used her successful experience with her own two children to form a business of helping others.
How nice, I thought.
She began digging, a little.
Do you have children?
Yes, four, but they are all quite young.
How old is your oldest?
He’s eleven, I responded.
Are you aware that there is much you can be doing right now to secure college scholarships?
She rattled off data about the rising price of college, science fairs projects and competitions that my kids are already missing out on. She evidenced a laundry list of funds she had secured for other clients with young children.
Am I Failing My Children?
I tried to wrap my vacationing brain around her data and statistics. I had no idea that I was already so behind.
My pulse was quickening. She had touched a soft spot. Like that squishy and vulnerable part on a baby’s head, where the protecting bone is not fully fused yet, she hit my mama heart square.
Am I already failing my kids? Are they already missing out?
Because so much of what she was saying is true. College is expensive. I do have a lot of children. Yes, yes, education is important.
The air suddenly felt heavy and thick as I realize how many questions she was asking that I just don’t have answers to.
Will all of my kids go to college?
How do we plan to pay for that?
The earlier we can figure out their career paths, the better off we will be.
Wow, I really have some decisions to make! I began running a repertoire of scenarios in my mind.
Responding to Fear
Well, if kid #1 goes that direction then we should probably start him off over there. And if kid #2 has completely different gifts, then I really need to get her involved over here. I hadn’t even nailed down the futures of the 4 and 6 year olds yet, but I sat there willing myself to figure this out. If I just think a little harder…
I’m a sucker for these kinds of things. The figuring out and planning kinds of things. The “if I just think hard enough, work hard enough, plan enough, I can do this” kinds of things. And motherhood is the area where I am most susceptible.
Susceptible to control, to manipulate, to force and push and figure out, because I love these kids wildly and I want very much want to see them do well, give them a healthy foundation to launch from.
But somehow I feel a little bit like Eve here, staring down a twisted temptation. I’m not meant to manipulate, to force or to push – it’s my job to trust God with my children’s future and teach my children to do the same.
My heartbeat steadies itself quickly when I acknowledge the real temptation I am entertaining here. Sometimes, in motherhood, this is what taking every thought captive looks like, poolside even.
I prayed a silent prayer that God would give me wisdom to lead my children, to help them steward their gifts, to navigate the future with courage. I prayed that he would guard my heart from fear and control that I was not created for, but that he might grow my faith through every step of this mothering adventure.
Notice I did not to say that we aren’t to plan ahead. We get to do that as mothers, but checking our hearts in the process, surrendering our fears and worries before the God who loves our children even more than we do, is vital.
Trusting God with our children, their future, is one of the wisest decisions we will ever make.
Katie, I Choose Brave
Katie Westenberg is a wife, mother and writer who is passionate about living life bravely for the glory of our Creator and encouraging others to do the same. She enjoys country living in a small town, time spent with friends and family, and saying YES to adventure. She writes at ichoosebrave.com.