Driving into work amidst the harried commuter traffic, I glanced over at my eighteen-year-old twin daughter, remembering when I carried her frail four-pound body out of the NICU unit towards home. My thoughts were full of fears and concerns as I looked down at her tiny pink face, her slight build, swimming in a preemie onesie. My heart was bursting with fervent prayers and questions; what kind of a mother would I be, how could I do a good job, how would I ever be able to raise my daughter to embrace the way she was created, and fully use the talents and gifts within her?
Wisdom of Older Women
Upon crashing into a mothering role, I voraciously read every book I could get my hands on, explaining the best way to raise a child in a loving home, against the grain of the world. This only confused me more. One day, I shared my insecurities with my mother-in-law.
“Mom,” I said, biting my lip, feeling the heavy burden of a life-long task ahead of me. “I want you to know I welcome any advice you can offer me about raising the twins.” I continued. “You raised four wonderful children, who are successful and compassionate adults, and I want to raise my children just as you have raised yours.” I did not realize it then, but my mother-in-law unfolded the best advice anyone has ever given me.
“Jeanette, this is what you need to do; you build the mold, and your child will fill it. If you build a small mold that holds little or no expectations, your child won’t achieve much. But if you build a mold large enough to encourage your child to reach their potential, combined with an unquenchable thirst for knowledge, your child will flourish. Take all of those phrases that speak negativity to your child and throw them away. They are not double-trouble twins, they are a double blessing. It’s not the terrible two’s, but the terrific two’s. Speak life into your children, build the mold reflecting the uniqueness of your child, and they will grow into the shape they were meant to be.”
I clung onto every word of that advice over the years, reminding myself when I slipped into negative thoughts or felt the overwhelming demands of a working mother bury me, that I was encouraged to build an ever-changing mold for each of my four children. I have been encouraged to build those molds over the last eighteen years, each mold different and custom-built for the unique child I have been entrusted to raise.
My daughter reached over and turned up the music filling our car, telling me how much she loved the song playing on the radio. I smiled, my eyes brimming with tears, a lump in my throat as I realized I would be delivering my grown daughter to college in a few weeks. I realized that I had listened to my mother-in-laws advice as the years unfolded and piece-by-piece, I chiseled the mold. The mold was first built to hold a tiny preemie, born at two pounds, and expanded to encourage a young woman with enthusiastic dreams, opinionated thoughts and ideals, and an unquenchable thirst to understand who she was and how she could use her gifts in the world.
As I eased my car into our office parking lot, I knew that my daughter completely filled the convoluted mold that was built. Not too big to swallow her up and lose her, but big enough to allow her to reach her full potential as a woman living in the world, using the spectacular gifts and talents exactly as she was created.