Once we have a few kids, we can kind of feel like we have gotten the swing of things (sort of). This can lead to stagnation if we don’t keep growing in some way as our own person. Part of the reason why there is so much joy to experience on this road of parenting is because the views are so varied. Each day brings something new—and no two days are alike! If we find comfort in routine and day-to-day regularity (as I do), we might mistake the goal here as trying to get to a place where things don’t feel so out-of-place anymore. This isn’t really the goal of effective parenting. If anything, our goal needs to be to work on ourselves until we are no longer the wild card in situations. We can’t really control others (even our kids or our spouse), even though there may be methods that plenty of people employ to do just that. We don’t want our love and family to be strangle-held by guilt, shame, blame, or any other form of manipulation. We want our love and our family to exist freely and to grow deeply. Love can’t flourish if it’s put in a box or locked up in a cage or tied down by destructive criticism, conditions, demands, or control. Love has to be free if it’s going to fly. So instead of putting our energy into controlling everyone, it’s a better use of our time and talent to put our energy into growing as a person however we can. This is so hard because it will mean that we may have to leave things undone, un-preferred, or unsatisfying. It means that we will need to grow up so that we can grow into the person we were meant to be. For as consuming as our marriage and family is and should be, we are bigger than it all. We have the ability to touch more lives than the handful we’ve been blessed to live with. This doesn’t mean that we abandon everyone and go back to building a career as many moms do and think others should do. It just means that we lift our eyes a bit, expand our horizon a bit. Look around a bit. See that we are not the only ones going through what we are going through. Everywhere we go, we are an example of what everyone wants but somehow can’t have. So let’s live up to that example in substance. Let us be all that we are meant to be, letting go of the hang-ups we sometimes hold on to for comfort. Let us now find comfort in becoming all of the person we are, holding nothing back when we love our husband, our kids, ourselves, and our friends. This is our gift. Our heart!