Sons and daughters are indeed a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward. (Psalm 127:3)
My mother was a Home Economics teacher in a High School in Northern Minnesota. Home Economics meant teaching kids how to cook, clean, sew, and so much more. She taught sex education (thank goodness I went to a different school) and parenting. I loved the one week each year when her kids became parents to an egg. They had to carry it carefully, and even get an egg sitter if they went out.
Through the experience, the students learned responsibility, and that when some things are broken, they cannot be put back together again. I remember my mother telling me how she actually had to perform counseling for a girl whose egg broke and she was mortified. The poor girl felt the loss deeply.
For a number of years, graduates would come back to visit my mother and announce their pregnancies. They would reflect on their traumatizing week as egg parents, and their hopes and fears as they become real parents. My mother would often reflect on how pregnancy seemed to transform a person overnight. She said she could tell how good a parent each former student would be, by how they talked. If they continued to talk about how the pregnancy affected themselves, she would be concerned. Those young adults who talked about the hopes, dreams, and challenges in store for them; these future parents would do well.
Whether we are parenting or considering any other aspect of life, humble responsibility beyond self is fundamental. A week with the egg is infinitely easier than the reality of real parenthood. It requires focus beyond self, every day for the better part of two decades, or more. Further, for the parenting to be most effective, it cannot feel like a sacrifice, but a labor of love. This is too demanding a call without the blessed gift of the Holy Spirit.
Today, pray for the parents around you. If you are a parent, it is important to pray for your own children and your parenting skills. Do not stop there. Pray for friends, family, and even acquaintances. If you are not a parent, or if your children are grown, pray for those still in the throes of this life-altering challenge. Good parenting is a gift to the whole community. Bad parenting adversely affects not only the parent’s children, but the whole community. Pray for those at-risk parents. Give them your prayerful attention, so their child does not crack amidst the hard struggles of this world.