On loan for a while

In a strange political context, where children belonged to the state, and the state took over the care and education (kids still benefit from free education and health insurance till they become adults no matter their familiar circumstances) from early stages. 

To gain double the workforce and educate the children according to its values, my parents were the first to move to the city. It was an exodus of young people, the workforce in the industrialization of the country, my parents were the first in either of their large families to move away. 

In an attempt to keep them back, my paternal grandmother asked them who will take care of their kids. My mom was 8 months pregnant with my older brother. My dad said then that he will help. My grandmother’s poking questions caused my dad to make a commitment out loud. They were an island. And they embraced the leave and cleave commandment, enabled by the flourishing industrialization of the country. They got an apartment in the city and their employer would withheld rent straight from their salary before tax. 

My maternal grandmother became a widow in her mid 30s. The state also encouraged the education of the youth. They had comunist representatives travel each village to take the census and strongly encourage kids to be registered in school. My mom benefited from the newfound freedom, equality and independence given her family’s situation, growing up without a father, and the state wanting to double their workforce by giving women every chance to develop. 

This way, my parents raised us according to our own gifts, independently from old family ties. We visited my grandmother every summer but that was different than living among them (all the aunts and uncles and cousins) all the time. 

The communist romania wanted to build its strength by reeducating the old and starting early with the young. Because of their genuine faith, being a believer was not acceptable. The state tolerated the church because of its influence but they didn’t like people pursuing God in a genuine personal way. So they didn’t fully buy into the comunist ways. Though both of them worked full time, they worked in shifts so we had a parent at home with us always. It occurs to me that they were not “entitled” to a romantic family life. They took life in stride grateful for being able to make it work and provide a good environment for us to grow up in. 

Our values were faith based and we knew we were rebels in the ways of not following the comunist rule to a t. 

When I was young, my mom said to me that I am her blessing ,a gift, on loan from God for a while. I did not belong to the state. I did not belong to her. I did belong to God. She did not play a tug of war with the comunist ways. She entrusted me to my Creator. How clever!

I was young enough that I took what she said at face value, and I sensed she wholeheartedly believed what she said. 

That idea followed me into my teens when I promised my life to God, to live him and obey Him. My allegiance was to a higher power than my own parents who also obeyed God.

When I had to leave and cleave, to follow my husband in marriage, I never questioned my parents’ blessing. I knew they already missed me but the clarity that my mom’s words gave me, the words that followed me, that I was her blessing on loan. For a while. It freed me and gave me a launching pad for my life beyond childhood.

As an adult I returned to my home country. This time my foreign husband followed me back, though he initiated the move, uprooting himself, and I got to be close to my parents by choice. With that same freedom and joy of reconnection. I came back wholeheartedly because she let me go wholeheartedly. 

In my home country we got to adopt two children. After years of waiting to become parents, praying, signing papers, changing our careers to accommodate parenthood. When our kids joined our family I sighed with relief that my kids came home. That they are mine. This thought didn’t fully form in my mind when my heart reminded me of how God works. These kids I didn’t give birth to, they grafted like a beautiful ready branch to our family tree, but they don’t belong to me. And that’s ok. They were always God’s, and I can rest in that knowledge. So now, just like my mom, I tell my girls, that they came into our family as gift, on loan for a while. They bless us and bring us joy, and we offer them a place of love, nourishment and safety, so they can grow up strong and brave and wise. 

It may not come natural to feel that way. You may fight the concept that your kids don’t belong to you. 

When God made us in His image, we also became creators in our own right. And most parents, when they have children, they get this idea that they created children in their own likeness. 

Start thanking God for the gift they are. 

Express your gratitude out loud for the blessing and honor of parenting them. Acknowledging that they are with you for a while. So you can head it. 

Love them wholeheartedly and let them go in the same breath. It’s good practice for when they will hand to struggle and you can’t save them from the teachable moments. For when they pursue God independently from you, when they go to college and when they marry. We are their nursery, safe haven, launching pad, safety net and the place of peace where good food is served and wholesome conversations are carried.

Our kids are not an extension of us. They are uniquely created in God’s image. We are just a template. (Sometimes in the physical appearance but most definitely we imprint our beliefs, values) We did not create them. God created them. And they belong to Him. Let’s point their eyes to Him. Let’s remind them how we see them and how we value them. Our precious loan. A gift for a little while. 

It’s never too early nor too late to see our kids for what they are: a gift. Temporary loans. God’s talents to us, to develop and return with interest.