Becoming Family


Carissa Woodwyk

I'll be honest...back in the day when I strolled through life more carefree (and sometimes carelessly), there were a few things that when I imagined being a mom, I never wanted to be.

I never wanted to be that mom who desperately yelled her kids' names, especially in public.

I never wanted to be that mom who sat in the dirty, germy, way-to-loud play area in the mall.

I never wanted to be that mom whose kid screamed at the top of his lungs while I frantically tried to keep him in the cart at the grocery store.

I never wanted to be that mom who sat her kids in front of over-stimulating kid shows because I needed a babysitter.

I never wanted to be that mom who drug her kids around with boogies and snot dripping from unknown crevices.

I never wanted to be that mom who used lollipops as bribery and broke all my own rules so my kid would obey.

I never wanted to be that mom whose car was loaded with goldfish and french fries in car seats and under seats.

I never wanted to be that mom who frolicked around town sporting stains on her clothes...and didn't know it.

Yet, here I am...that mom.

(By the way, there really should be some beautiful shirt with jewels and glitter and lots of color that sings “I am too sexy for this life” that us moms get to wear whenever we want.)

OK, let me focus...

Before you have kids, it's SO easy to think of what you don't want to do, who you don't want to be, and what you don't want to look like. Thinking about what kind of parent, what kind of person you want to model for your kids is something many of us don't do and find hard to do before we enter that role. Let alone, to think about what kind of home, what kind of space you want to create...for one another.

When your growing up years are defined by hard places and faces (or for some, “perfect” places), it's easy to focus on what you don't want to do, don't want to be, as a parent and as a family. But I'm finding that in the midst of giving myself permission to not do the things that were so unhelpful or hurtful, that it's just as important to imagine and be intentional about what you want to do differently, what you can do differently.

So, I've been reflecting and dreaming the last few years...of what kind of home I want to create for my children. As they enter and exit each season of their lives, what will they find each time they enter the door and play and sleep and grow in our house? What will they remember about how we defined and delivered the meaning of family? What picture will be seared into their memory?

For us (and we're pretty new to this), there are some themes that we hope to be the umbrella over how we step towards our kids, so they are equipped and empowered to step into the show others how good God is and how much he deeply loves...everyone.

You are wanted. You are loved. You are matter what you say or do.

Your body, mind and spirit are worth investing in and connecting with.

We delight in you.

We believe in you.

We celebrate you.

We will be parents who are fully present to you and your needs.

Both brokenness and beauty have a place in our home.

Our home will be a safe place, a sanctuary.

God made you for us and he also made you for him.

Maybe, just start by asking yourselves, “What words or phrases describe our home right now?” Ask your children. Their answers could be surprising. And then, “What words or phrases do we want to describe our home?” Or...maybe begin with asking God what kind of home he wants to create with you. Listen. Let his voice guide you.

So, as the summer warmth arrives and you find your children running in circles around you (or you around them), and as you experience both the extraordinary and ordinary, find what you do well. Discover what unique gifts your family has to offer. Go after your children, in your home.

And then, may you be an expression of those heavenly things to the world...because you GET to show the world how good God is.

zondervan large.jpg

Carissa Woodwyk is a wife, mother and marriage and family therapist. She is also co-author of Before You Were Mine: Discovering Your Adopted Child's Lifestory. She enjoys speaking on relationships, marriage, identity, adoption and the human heart. She and her husband have two children and live near Grand Rapids, MI. Follow Carissa's blog or catch up with her on facebook