Many of us grew up being taught the bible story of Noah's Ark.  You know.... Noah built an ark and all the creatures of the earth boarded it to avoid the flood.... two by two.  That image is always interesting to me. I am intrigued by the thought of the amazing variety of animals.

Each pair is unique to each other.
Each pair looks different but is equally beautiful.
Each pair has its own distinct identity.
Each pair has its own personality.
Each pair has different needs.
Each pair is extraordinary.

Craig and I...and others....have often used the Noah's Ark pairings analogy when talking about our 4 kids. We like to say we have 2 sets of kids.  The older two and the younger two.  

We have Zack, Taylor, Luke and Noah.  There is a 6 year gap between Taylor and Luke.  It took us a long time and some efforts to become pregnant with Luke.  Then a few years later we got the surprise gift of a red-headed boy.  

So, right now we have a set of children who are in college and a set who are not.  We have a set of kiddos that are independent of us and a set that is not.  We have a set of kids that have moved out of our house and one that still hangs with us here.   

Each pair is unique to each other.
Each pair looks different but is equally beautiful.
Each pair has its own distinct identity.
Each pair has its own personality.
Each pair has different needs.
Each pair is extraordinary.


But there is another pair in this whole situation that gets ignored sometimes....the parents.      

Craig and I are a set.  We boarded that "ark" together long ago.  We do not look alike, act alike or, most times, think alike.  But we are a pair, a set, a combo, a team, a couple....  And also, at the same time, we are one single parenting unit with our own individual set of attributes, behaviors and approach to life and its events.  Our kids know us as "their parents".  So I could look at us as one pair of animals.... but sometimes I see us as two.  

We, by nature, have become 2 sets of parents.  The parents of the older set and parents of the younger set.  We have parented each pair of kiddos differently.  

(All you oldest siblings out included...can now be get ready to say "Yes, I knew it!  You DO treat the youngest differently!  See!?  It ISN'T fair!  I knew I was right!".  And you youngest can say "Yes, I knew it!  I totally saw how you were with my older sibling and I was able to do things differently and get away with MUCH more!".  Simmer down people.  This is always going to be true.  This is never going to change.  Get over it. )

We parented... 2 by 2.

We made mistakes... 2 by 2. 

We learned... 2 by 2.

We grew... 2 by 2.

The first set of kids had parents who were cautious, over-analytical, too protective, unsure, eager, wanting to succeed, young, energetic and very, VERY green.  We had NO idea what we were doing.  We compared ourselves to other parents and always seemed to fall short.  We were a hot mess. I remember walking the halls of our little house in the middle of the night with a colicky Zachary.  He wouldn't stop crying.....for anything!  We could do nothing but felt we should know what to do.  We took the inability to console him and quiet him as a failure.  It was like we thought we were terrible parents because we were unable to know instantly and easily the answer to something parents have struggled with for HUNDREDS of years.  We took it out on each other.  We were so naive.  We were new parents.  

The second set of kids had parents who were more mellow, perceptive, watchful but not hovering, more confident, older, relaxed(somewhat!) and very, VERY seasoned.  We had a better idea of how to do this parenting gig.  We weren't comparing ourselves to other parents.  This time around we let the baby cry in the middle of the night, just going in every 5 minutes or so to pat him on the back, reassure him we were there and he was loved and then LEFT THE ROOM.  That was unheard of, for me especially, the first time around!  We helped and supported each other.  We were experienced.  We were wiser parents.

Last night was "Meet the Teacher" night at our youngest's school.  Afterwards I was thinking about all the differences between that night LONG ago with Zack and Noah's. 

Zack's: Craig and I both went. Craig got off work early, stressing himself out and probably frustrating a boss who didn't understand so he could be there to meet the teacher.

Noah's: Craig had taken a longer-than-normal lunch to come and have lunch with his parents who were passing through on the first leg of a fun trip.  So he couldn't get off early.  He had a job to do and knew that when weighing things and prioritizing it was more important to spend time with family than meet a teacher for 3 minutes who he will meet many times throughout the year.


Zack's: I packed his new backpack with all the supplies.  I crossed things off the list as I put them in (probably in color order!  Sheesh!).  He had everything the teacher had asked for and all in order in his desk because I put them in there.  I made him dress in khaki shorts and a polo-like shirt. I combed his hair and ran a cloth over his face to make sure his ketchup from lunch wasn't the first thing the teacher saw.  

Noah's: He packed a cloth grocery bag with all his supplies.  He crossed things off his list as he shoved them in the bag (and not at all in any beautiful color order!).  He didn't have everything as he had forgotten his sketch book back on the dining room table...and that is ok.  He arranged his desk in his own way and I told him it looked awesome....even if it was not AT ALL what I would have done.  He wore what he had on that entire day while playing outside.  His tshirt had a picture of hamburger talking to a hot dog and the text bubble says "'Sup Dawg?".  Oh my.  His face?  No ketchup...but I noticed a bit of chocolate at the corner of his mouth.... after we left.  Oh FOR THE LOVE.......!


Zack's: I asked the teacher a ton of questions.  I wanted to know things that would help me assess if she was going to academically challenge Zack.  I wanted the teacher that all the other moms said was the best and was looking for verification of that.

Noah's: I talked to the teacher...woman to woman.  I asked about her oldest son who she had just dropped off at college THAT SAME DAY!  I asked how he was doing....but, more importantly, how she was doing.  I listened as she talked to Noah and loved that she wasn't chatting with him about what they were going to learn, but instead about how he could always come to her if he was having a problem.  She wanted to hear from him and help him with everything.  I trusted my own opinion and not that of other moms.  I was confident that since she was a teacher at this amazing school that the academics were exceptional.  I cared more about the heart and character of the person who would be with him more hours than I would be for the next 9 months.  


We are doing this parenting thing differently.  Not better.  Just different.  

Our older 2 children are fantastic, healthy, independent, happy, confident, responsible, capable and loving people.  We are proud of how we parented them and even prouder of them! 

Our younger 2 children are fantastic, healthy, independent, happy, confident, responsible, capable and loving people.  We are proud of how we are parenting them and even prouder of them!

How in the world can parents who do things VERY differently for each set have kids that turn out the same???  It is because there are a few things that didn't change in our parenting style.

Each set were taught that:

they are privileged...not entitled.
they must be kind to each other and all people.
we loved them unconditionally.
we had expectations of them to work hard, be respectful and love others.
that they could do anything if they just tried.
they couldn't quit anything they started.
they were created for a great purpose.
they were imperfectly amazing.
God loves them.


Those things are the common thread that binds together the first set of parents with the second set of parents.  They are the foundation.  They are the glue.  They are everything.


So do we wish we did things differently 20 years ago?  YEP.  Do we wish we did something differently yesterday?  YEP.   The difference is that we know that if we have the foundational things working somewhat well that all the others things will iron themselves out.


May you enjoy the beauty of each pair boarding the Ark.
May you give yourselves a break.
May you figure out what are your foundational things.
May you keep your eye on those things and not others.








August 30, 2013 — Sarah Stevens

Leave a comment

Please note: comments must be approved before they are published.