They also serve who only stand and…watch.
Parents are watchers, It’s our job. It was our parents’ job before us. It will be our children’s job after us.
I’m not talking about watching the little tykes roll over in the crib, take their first steps or swing too high at the playground down the street. I don’t mean the looking-over-the-shoulder kind of watching that drives teenagers, who already know it all, crazy.
I mean the watching that is as much fun as childbirth – painful and hopeful at the same time. Waiting for the kid to come out, praying for the outcome.
Parents spend many of our best years watching. We sit in 103-degree Texas heat at dusty Little League fields on hard metal benches for three sweaty hours, only to see Junior get one chance to bat – Please don’t strikeout! We dress like we are going backpacking in Antarctica for those frigid drill team or marching band performances, and we have to put up with all that football sandwiched around the good stuff. We go every night to the spring play waiting for the star to deliver his one line for the night, a line we are sure to know better than he, a line we say along with him for good luck. Whew, got through it again!
Parents know “the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat” more so than the kids that bear our hopes for them do. Our kids don’t know we do, usually – or shouldn’t. They think it’s their life they live. They don’t realize that every pass, every shot, every tumble, every line, every note, every step is, rightly or wrongly, a referendum on us.
Watching your daughter try out for cheerleader or your son for the soccer team – it’s powerlessness personified. You can’t help; you can only hope. You sit there ready to jump and scream, but with a pack of cherry Lifesavers in your pocket just in case.
Is this part of our God-likeness as human beings? Not that we do it so well, not that we are as patient and kind as God is. But that we watch and wait and wonder and wish, that we care and coax and cajole and comfort. Maybe that’s part of the image of God in us.
My father mortified me as a kid any time I hit a home run or threw a touchdown pass. He would stand up in the stands and yell: “That’s my boy!” I am not embarrassed anymore: I am proud that he was proud. There’s got to be something God-like about that.
Now if I could just get my kids to understand that. Never mind: “They’ll be parents one day themselves.