Having long ago realized that there is no Manual, Recipe, or Foolproof Formula of any kind to help navigate the mysterious waters of parenting, I have drawn a few new conclusions of my own.
The first few of these are in the vein of "negative space." As a high school art student, I once spent a number of weeks being instructed about the concept of graphically capturing negative space: rather than drawing the outline of an object, one instead outlined the space around the object--all the space that the object did NOT occupy; akin to the concept of positive and negative images on film.
So, here are my new mental constructs as they pertain to The Products of parenting:
(1) Be slow to take credit.
(2) Be slow to take blame.
(3) Realize quickly that this job is Beyond You, which is both good and bad.
(4) Exercise utmost discernment in choosing sources of wisdom and support. If not reliably rooted in The Book, discard them with dispatch.
(5) Suck it up and realize that this is a non-negotiable, approximately 18-year commitment...longer than the Army, true, and usually with MUCH less time to deliberate before signing up. No, it doesn't matter if you weren't "forewarned."
(6) Refer to this Prescription regularly: "Keep your shoulder to the proverbial wheel; nose to the grindstone; head down; stick to the knitting;" and whatever other idiom(s) of Perseverance speak to you.
- Take as often as needed. Even when the side effects seem intolerable. No prescription refill requests are needed....like the widow of Zarephath's vial of oil, this supply does not run out, even if it gets monotonous.
(7) It's all temporary, in this mortal life. ALL of it.
(8) Don't expect more of yourself than the Shepherd does: unlike you, He sees the end from the beginning, and everything else, stretching in every other dimension. His is the perspective that counts.
BUT, do not shirk: you will know it, your offspring will know it, and He knows it. Do what you can, with the strength, wisdom, and grace He supplies, and keep shamelessly asking for these spiritual staples.
(9) Don't judge the "Product" prematurely. In fact "judging", in one sense, isn't in the parental job description at all. If you stick to what you know you're supposed to do, you'll be plenty busy.
(10) Remind yourself, and the Products-In-Process, that the ultimate goal is not for them to please you or for you to please them. The ultimate goal is to enter the vestibule of eternity with joy, ready to stand before Him Who holds all things together.