"When I grow up, I want to be a Bender!" four-year-old Stephen for whom my sons often babysit
I spend too much time worrying about what the future may hold for my children. People often tell me what good children I have, and I know that's true, yet, I keep waiting for something unfortunate to happen instead of relaxing in the knowledge that I have been blessed with a wonderful family.
My two oldest sons are excellent role models for my younger children. They often volunteer at church and in the community, most recently joining with other teens from our parish to wash windows and mow the lawns of some elderly residents in our neighborhood who could no longer manage these chores on their own. Their wonderful example can be hard for the younger three to live up to.
As a middle child, I know that my son Joe wants to stand out from the hard-working and well-behaved older boys, and from the youngest two children in our family who follow behind him and are often quite pampered as the babies of the family. I worried quite a bit about him this past year as he struggled with teenage growing pains and often found himself in quite a bit of trouble at school. But God didn't plan to let Joe get lost in the crowd of family that surrounds him. He gave Joe the gift of a charming personality with a penchant for smooth talk that helped him make the most of the difficult situations that frequently beset him.
This past Friday, he graduated from the 8th grade and received many awards for his service as acolyte, Eucharistic Minister and cadet. He also stands out from his siblings by being our only child who always finds himself on the honor roll for his good grades. But, considering the many notes that came home from his teachers this year about his behavior, I caught myself letting out a gasp of surprise when he was awarded with the "Rainbow of Excellence" award for outstanding leadership skills and Christian values and learned that this award was chosen for him by his fellow students. I certainly did not expect him to receive any awards for good behavior! This whole year of worry and stress turned out to be unwarranted!
That night at the graduation celebration, I was sitting with a friend of mine, herself the mother of eight children, whose son also received an award for good behavior. She looked at me and said, "We have good boys," and I realized that it was as simple as that. God has blessed me with good boys. I hope I remember that the next time my stomach ties itself in knots of worry, certain that I have fallen down in my parenting responsibilities. Parenting is always a lot of work, and I know that my children will make many mistakes and find themselves in trouble now and then, but our God is a God of hope, and "hope does not disappoint." Romans 5:5