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Jen Pollock Michel

( author + writer + speaker )

Happy Birthday, Audrey!

Eleven years ago today, we became parents, and two days later, when the hospital sent home this new family of three, I felt a protest rise in my throat. Do you know how little we actually know about taking care of this baby? Parenting is incredibly ad hoc. I've been a reader all my life, and before I become a parent, I figured that with the right books, we'd do this parenting thing well.

Parenting is not about the books you read.

Parenting is not about the information you accumulate.

Parenting has nothing to do with your neat and tidy answers.

Parenting is about relationship and staying present to your children in the everyday. That is a work that takes time, attention, and prayer, and it does not turn on formulaic methods for churning out good kids.

Audrey turns eleven today, and eleven is not an easy age. It's the beginning of a growing self-awareness whose heavy weight your still-child must learn to support. It's the beginning of a changing body and changing emotions, and the me that takes shape in the mirror is not the me your child knows to recognize. There is self-doubt and self-pity that lurks around the corner of adolescence, and you learn to stay present and pray your words can do their miracles. Sometimes there are unexpected tears of impatience and anger. Your job is not to pretend you can fix anything.

Whatever weather the day brings in, you make yourself your child's committed companion. You do your best to listen and remember the details. You ask as much as you might suggest. You pray.

We are blessed to have Audrey as our firstborn. She has graciously learned to forgive our overzealous parenting. She is a deeply principled young woman, who cares about justice and making a world right and fair. She is resilient and meets challenges with inner strength. She is funny, and I love to laugh at the witty jokes she has learned to tell. She is quiet, living easily with her thoughts. And I believe she loves Jesus and wants to please Him. There's no greater gifn than that.