(Lake Mille Lacs, 2019)

When I look at what my parents mean to me a lot comes to mind. The good, the bad, and the ugly. It’s a blessing to know that in all they’ve done to raise me, I can look at their greatest moments and their mistakes as clues to success. Mind you, I’m not a parent, but kids have a soft spot in my heart. At the turn of 30, I’m now at the age where many of my friends and people on my timeline I grew up with are proposing, getting married, and making little ones of their own. I hope to be a wonderful dad one day. Parents are a child’s heroes. From enrolling them into Rec League Soccer or patching them up when they accidentally take a rough spill on concrete. There’s an immense responsibility one has in taking care of a little human, but I think there’s a sense and need to fill gaps of what a parent might not have experienced growing up in their child’s life. The “mini-me” or “mini-you” experience in a son or daughter of your own serves as a source of hope for others to see joy when watching their child make their way through the earth. Figuring “it” out.

Lauren, how has it been raising two of your own? What lessons have you learned so far and what might be helpful for those considering it?

I hear what you’re saying, Profit. I think that we’re all trying to clear the path to the best of our ability for those who are coming after us. We want to make things a little easier and better for the next generation based on our own experiences. When you’re a kid, you don’t even know what you might be missing until you’re grown, but I see a lot of parents trying to make a new type of space for their kids to grow up in—they’re trying to make a difference in their own parenting despite how they were raised.

I have to say, there’s something sort of incredible about having a front-row seat to watching a human’s life unfold. The human condition is so raw and glorious all at once, and watching a new being enter the world and grapple with all that it is to be human is still shocking and intensely beautiful to witness. And then to be in the thick of parenting, with all the power and nearly unfettered ability to shape and mold the direction of this child’s life is both an extremely wonderful and weighty thing to bear.

Like you said, the idea of a parent symbolizes so much in the life of a child. This certainly isn’t the case for everyone, but in my own experience, parents were an ultimate sort of safety. If you were to consult Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, my parents fulfilled many if not all of the basic and psychological needs that human life requires. They informed my worldview. They were the first filter that everything else out there flowed through. Children are so dependent on their parents for how they experience this life, and yet, they don’t even know it.

One of the things that’s interesting to reflect on is how you often don’t see the gaps in your childhood until you’re grown. Once you’re an adult, you can look back on your childhood and see the hardships or the places where your needs weren’t always met. You can see the generational struggles that have flowed down through your family, and you can assess both the ways things were great and the way things really weren’t.

Just like in marriage, when you start your own family, you get to decide what you take with you from your family of origin. You get to keep the good and then do your best to fill in the gaps that were missed in your childhood. It’s really a sweet kind of grace and hope that we get to start afresh with our children. We can’t keep the darkness of the world from them forever, but we get a significant amount of time with them to prepare, embolden, and cultivate their hearts and minds to assess the hard parts of life and learn how to deal with them.

In our family, we really value spending time together. My husband and I want to be really intentional to take our kids on regular dates, so that we know them on a really deep level by the time they’re grown. We’ve already had the opportunity to start this with our four-year-old, and it’s been a really sweet way to remind him how incredibly loved he is and talk about things we might not have had the opportunity to otherwise.

Another element of parenting that’s important to us is making space for our kids’ emotions. A lot of adults assume that the tears and big emotions that come from small children aren’t a big deal, but it’s important to us that we make space for all of it and take it seriously too. We want to walk alongside our kids and their feelings patiently and respectfully because just because they’re small doesn’t mean they’re not human.

As parents, we know we’re going to make loads of mistakes as we raise our kids. We already have, and we’ve had to apologize and ask our son for forgiveness. We think apologizing is a really important thing to model too. Even though we know we’re not going to do it perfectly, there’s so much space to learn and grow, and there’s thankfully a lot of resources and people out there to help us along on this journey.

Children are truly a gift. The things they say and the way they say them are sometimes earth-shattering. The parts of this world they notice and hold onto are beautiful, and they create a completely different perspective for what it means to be human and love life. They are free in the best way, and they reveal a wild sort of beauty that helps us understand how things were always meant to be.

May we always make space for the children, and may we always remember the gift that living life is.

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