Recently, my wife and I were watching Mack, our 11 month-old grandson. A few days prior to his visit with us he had taken 3 steps on his own. Now that we were watching him it was grandma and grandpas turn to try and work their magic to get him walking.
My wife was seated on the floor holding Mack up from behind while I stood a short distance away bent over and arms reaching towards him and we tried to coax him into walking with our overly exaggerated voices of encouragement and big smiles. Much to our chagrin he would take a step and fall down. For that day, at least, he was unwilling to show off his newly found skill to his grandparents.
Those few moments with Mack made me revisit old memories of my wife and I trying to teach our three children to walk in the exact same way. As I reflected on those times it really made me think,
“Do we ever really quit helping our children take steps or encouraging them to walk?”
I don’t believe so. No matter what stage of life our children are trying to navigate themselves through we are there with them. Maybe not with the overly exaggerated voices of encouragement and big smiles but we are there trying to encourage and guide them as they try to learn how to walk along the path of life.
Currently, our older daughter, Rylee, age 25, is married and has two children. We’ve been there for her and her husband and have tried to help them with different situations they have faced during this season of their lives. We’ve seen them experience things like dating, engagement, marriage, a wedding, searching for a home, changing jobs, pregnancy, raising small children and many other situations that have come along.
Our son, Hank, is 20. He’s at the age where he is finding his independence and taking steps to make his own way. He is facing decisions about his future: Go to college or not? Which job suits me best? What am I going to do with the rest of my life? Also during this time Hank is spreading his wings and stepping into independence by owning his own car, grocery shopping for himself, cooking his own meals, doing his own laundry and paying for his car insurance and other expenses. He’s managing 2 jobs, a couple of college classes and a relationship. Hank still is living with us and therefore is subjected to his parents’ opinions and (sometimes unsolicited) advice. He listens to our instructions even if he doesn’t want to sometimes. Does he always heed our warnings or take our advice on how to walk through this stage of his life? Well, no, but that’s part of being in this stage of life, right?
Our daughter, Harlie, the youngest, is 6 years-old and needs help with the typical things and still relies on us for most everything, of course. She needs guidance and instruction on things such as like always being truthful, being kind to others, not whining or crying when you don’t get your way, pick up your clothes, take care of your things, and what to wear (or what NOT to wear in some cases). If you’re a parent, you know this list could go on and on and on. Probably the most important thing this year has been helping her understand everyone is different. Some people are short, some are tall; some people can run fast while others cannot; some people are shy; some are outgoing. We have all different God given talents and that’s fine. It doesn’t make make one person better than another and if we were all the same it would be boring. At age six, Harlie is still learning the very important values that will shape her into the person we hope she will become. She needs us to both figuratively and literally hold her hand at times to take steps.
We once held the chubby little hands of our three babies as they took their first steps and then, at the various stages of our children’s lives we help them take steps and encourage them to walk. But someday, due to old age or illness our children may be the ones helping us take steps and encouraging us to keep walking. They may have to speak to us with overly loud and exaggerated voices and put on big smiles as they are trying to encourage us to keep going, not to give up, and keep moving forward. Our children will hold our weathered hands and help us walk.
I’m so thankful that in one capacity or another we never stop helping each other take steps or encouraging one another to keep walking.