September 11, 2020

Joyful Witness / Kimberly Pohovey

Appreciating the life lessons our children teach us

Kimberly PohoveyWe said our goodbyes curbside, then my husband and I hopped in our car and drove away toward the next chapter of our lives. I turned back briefly, but our son was already headed into the dorm ready to embrace his next chapter, too.

I have listened to and read comments from some fellow Class of 2020 parents who sounded downright distraught at the prospect of their child going off to college. Not to discount their feelings at all, but I personally have a hard time understanding this line of thinking. From the time our children are born, they are merely entrusted to us. Our job is to love, protect, teach and nurture them and their faith so that they will one day become strong, independent, faith-filled and capable human beings. I think, if we’ve accomplished our task, they should be ready to separate from us and vice versa.

In the few days since launching our youngest child, I have, instead of feeling a sense of loss, been thinking of all I have gained from being a parent.

One of the greatest and most surprising blessings of motherhood for me has been the fact that my children have taught me some profound life lessons. It has been at times humbling, and yet at other times, I have been blessed to see God’s master plan at work.

My first born, Luke, taught me that God’s plan for us parents is bigger than we know—especially at the birth of our children. It is a story that unfolds over time. One of the biggest lessons Luke taught me, through his life’s struggles, is that it’s not my job to fix his issues. It’s my job to support him, love him and pray for him. I have learned that, ultimately, he is in God’s hands, not mine. Luke taught me to let go of preconceived notions and to love him for who he is—unconditionally. He also taught me that what he needed from me was to listen to him, while giving him the freedom to navigate life for himself.

After our middle son, Matthew, passed away from sudden infant death syndrome, I recall our pastor walking up to my husband and I saying, “now the order of things has been reversed and instead of you teaching your son, your son will become your teacher.”

Matthew’s first lesson started the day he died when I was thrust into the realization that I was stronger than I ever knew. But I think his greatest lesson for me was one of stewardship.

From the proceeds of his life insurance policy, we established a scholarship fund in Matthew’s memory at our then-parish. Annually, we support eight families on scholarship. Each year, when I read the recipient’s essay, I usually cry, but my heart sings to know that it gives meaning to Matthew’s life and death. Only God knows why Matthew’s life was so brief, but I like to believe this scholarship fund was part of his grand plan. Matthew has taught me that God’s plan for us is bigger than we can imagine. We simply need to open our hearts to the possibilities.

Which brings me to my youngest son, Benjamin. I have learned many valuable lessons from this kid. I’m biased, but he’s definitely a one-of-a-kind kid. He is always calm. In fact, I think he’s incapable of feeling stress.

Coming from a family of type A personalities, he has a way of providing all of us with a sense of peace. He doesn’t rush through tasks or even conversations with people—he’s always present in the moment. He is the embodiment of stopping to smell the roses. From Ben, I have learned that we all need to slow down in order to appreciate life, our blessings and each other.

The final stanza from an essay in one of my favorite books, The Prophet, by Kahlil Gabrin, perfectly sums up my feelings on the privilege of parenting:

You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth. The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite, and He bends you with His might that His arrows may go swift and far. Let your bending in the archer’s hand be for gladness; For even as He loves the arrow that flies, so He loves also the bow that is stable.
 

(Kimberly Pohovey is a member of St. Jude Parish in Indianapolis. She is the director of major and planned gifts for the archdiocese.) †

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