I'm not Leslie. I'm "Leslie with the 6 kids." That's how people introduce me to their friends. My kids could've had crazy college money if I had a dollar for every time I heard, "How do you do it?" and "How do you look so sane?" or "Why do you seem so peaceful?" My standard answer has evolved over time. First I'd say, "I'm just taking it one day at a time," then "Girl, just a whole lotta prayer," then "God is good!"
Now that this child-raising experiment has concluded with some pretty awesome adult human beings, I'm prepared to answer those questions in depth. I joke now about how I sometimes wanted to run away from home, but didn't. Why? Because I'd run to God instead! I could not have been the wife and mother I was without my childlike faith. When my sons were babies, I was also a baby. When they learned to walk, I was also learning to walk. When they learned how to communicate with words instead of tears, I was learning how to speak words of faith instead of fear. At times, I had to correct their misbehavior, while also receiving correction for mine. When they stumbled, I also stumbled, fell, cried...and got back up.
I related to them because I, too, am a child...a child of God. I understand God even more because now I’m the parent of adult children whom I love deeply, but whom I must allow to make their own choices. When we are children, we follow the letter of the law laid down by our parents. But when we grow up, we push past those boundaries. Some tiptoe while others bulldoze, but the sentiment is the same, "I'm grown and you can't tell me what to do!"
Here's what I'm saying instead: I don't ever want to grow up if it means growing apart from my Father. I prefer to GROW WITH rather than GROW UP. Growing with God means maintaining my childlike status while being mature spiritually. I depend on my Father for food, yet I don't need to be bottle fed. I can prepare a meal and feed myself, while also having enough to share with others. I can represent my Father to the outside world, yet still have a key to the front door. I can let myself in without ringing the door bell. And once inside, I am comforted, protected, supported, corrected, and loved. My faith is my home. It's my sanctuary. It's where I feel safe. I run to it when I'm sad, confused, angry, or sick. I cling to it even when I'm full of joy and gratitude.
Tears fill my eyes when I feel the fullness of God's love embrace me in the arms of the man He blessed me with, and in the smiles of the babies He allowed me to nourish in my womb and nurture in my arms. My God is the Father I didn't have as a child. And I am His devoted and obedient daughter. He has never left me or forsaken me. This is how I can be "Leslie with the 6 kids," and still have a smile on my face, peace in my heart, wonderful young men who call me Mom, and an amazing husband who calls me his soul mate. The answer is: God.