"Look mom! No hands," yelled my eight year old Olivia while out on our bike ride together yesterday.
Maybe the first thing on my mind should have been warning her of the potential danger of an eight year old, riding a bike two sizes too big with no hands on a public road.
But it wasn't.
I couldn't help but remembering back to when I used to do the same exact thing... and seeing how long I could last without hands before nearly crashing into the ditch ahead.
Maybe I shouldn't let my kids swim 100 yards away from the dock out in the waterway with no life jackets on. Or cook their own breakfast on the stove all while attempting to hold their hamsters.
But I do.
I realize that my parenting style may be a tad bit unconventional, maybe even controversial. But then again, I was never good at following rules.
I mean if mohawks, pink and purple hair streaks, and flipping off of 10 foot high docks into the open water is bad parenting, then sign me up!
I've even been told by another mom that I am not a responsible parent. Sometimes I wonder if maybe I should send them off to a regular school with uniforms, and perform math drills until they can spout out math facts like educated robots. Maybe I should structure and schedule every single minute of their school days instead of letting them draw, paint and build airplanes with Legos so much.
But I don't.
The tension is always there. You know? The tension between what is too much and what is too little.
The tension to make sure I'm protecting them and giving them just the right balance for all that they need to be productive, emotionally healthy adults. The tight rope of trying to be the mother that those around me think I should be, and maybe even caring about that way too much.
I have my days in which I honestly wonder if I'm screwing them up somehow and just don't know it yet. This parenting thing didn't come with a single set of instructions!
The only thing I know is, I don't want to raise wimpy kids -- because wimpy kids don't just magically grow into amazing adults one day.
I don't want to build walls so tightly around their lives to keep out all possible threat of danger, so that they never experience the thrill of trying something scary and new -- and succeeding. Like landing the back flip into the pool for the very first time.
I won't fill my kids with fear at of all the reasons they could fail.
I'd rather let them believe that they will succeed, and that if they don't -- it's ok! We'll just get back up and we'll try again.
Far removed from the evangelical movement of the 90s in which I was raised, I'm just not interested in raising up another generation of "safe Christians."
I'm interested in raising brave warriors.
And safe people are too afraid to create the ruckus of a true warrior. And the last time I checked, ruckus makers are always the ones who end up changing the world.
As I watch them barrel into the ocean waves before their sunscreen even has time to set in, I realize that their courage has not yet been snuffed out by the neigh-sayers or the brutal waves of life. And my entire being aches to protect that courageous fire which has not yet been stolen away from their young hearts.
Blessed are the peacemakers.
Peacemakers start campaigns and raise funds to feed needy people they have never even met.
Peacemakers drag their own children out into the cold morning to feed groups of hungry, homeless men and women.
You can't miss them -- they are the brave, passionate ones who travel hundreds of miles to defend the orphan and build wells to quench the thirst of the thirsty in a parched land.
You can't miss them -- because sometimes being a peacemaker demands creating a fuss.
Being a peacemaker takes guts. This sacred, loud work of peacemaking isn't for safe Christians.
I want children like that: The ones who aren't afraid to say what they think, stand up for what they believe in, and find a way to do what they love with purpose and passion. Teenagers who aren't intimidated by culture, or guilted into being afraid to be different.
In all of the imperfect ways I mother my children, my hope is that, in small ways, my own life models for them that which has the power to shape their own into something so much bigger than themselves.
A life of impact isn't born from a childhood spent in an incubator. World changers are the very ones who have tried and failed the most...and then wiped the dirt from their bleeding wounds - and tried all over again.
These days I do not ask God for safe, good little Christian children. Instead I find myself begging that they may dare to be bold, courageous warriors. That they will create a ruckus. That they will know that it is better to try and fail, than to never have tried at all.
That they may be brave.
Because everybody knows that a wimpy kid turns into a wimpy adult who never really does anything worth reading about.
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