Sadie, who had been tucked into bed for 15 minutes, came into my bedroom holding a piece of paper. The paper was from her notepad of blue paper with little gray and white kittens on the bottom.
"Mom," she said, "I made you my grocery list." My eyes got a little wider and I said, "Ok."
She bent over to me and shared her neat little list which was numbered. My guess is that she felt the need to "go over it" with me to ensure there were no mistakes.
The list was entitled, "Sadie's grocries" (that is not my typo, nor are any following this - it is how Sadie wrote it)
1. Get pulups,
2. orange juice,
3. seedless oranges,
4. Green apples,
6. blueberrys, and
7. fabreeze for bathroom
Type A? Undoubtedly. Clear, concise, detailed and numbered. She just amazes me sometimes. It is a list that exhibits healthy eating habits and concerns about personal hygiene. I am not quite sure about #7, but at least she wants things smelling good. The vast and ever-changing worlds in which this child vacillates...so unpredictable. Guess I am going to the store tomorrow!
Less than a year ago, we joined the YWCA in order to spend some family time together swimming during the cold-ish NC winter months. The kids weren't what I would call even "decent" swimmers. Neither Ethan nor Sadie could swim the length of the pool doing any legal stroke, their stroke a loosely defined doggy paddle. I think, Sadie, the first time, even used a swim belt (more out of our fear than probably her need). Nevertheless, the were not secure in the water at all.
Today, after 8 months of swim team/practice, Ethan had a chance to swim with the next level of swimmers at our practice site. He swam a total of 60 laps in the pool; that is the equivalent to 1500 yards, just 10 shy of a mile. He swam sets of butterfly, breast, free and back throughout the practice. Amazing what their bodies can learn and can achieve. It was a shining moment for him, I think. His coach was really proud of his focus and desire to work hard. We have come a long, long way in a year.
There have been some hard and difficult issues that one of my children has had to face at school. Children, including one of my own, have been the target of name calling, inappropriate behavior and physical interactions that are quite below acceptable. My concern is for my child, but on equal footing, my heart is tender towards the child who is the perpetrator and his parents.
My own views of child rearing have drastically changed over the last 9 years. How funny to think I actually believed I could control and force the desired behavior of my children. I know that is why God gave me the three He did - so unique in their personalities, in talents, in love languages. My job is to guide, teach, correct and love them. It is their choice whether to obey or not. Guiding is my role, the rest is left them and God. It is not a reflection of me as a person, as a parent. It is a picture of their relationship with God.
We, as adults, live exactly the same way. God guides, teaches, corrects us, all the while never wavering in His love for us. However, we turn away from Him daily, even when we know better. If we can't always have it together, why in the world do I think my children can? Sometimes I feign disbelief over some of their unfathomable choices, but really, I shouldn't. It is just their natural tendency to wander from the One that love them most.
My prayers these days are not for perfectly listening, well-behaved, obedient little robots - although wouldn't that be nice? It is for them to have their hearts tuned into God. For them to develop into the perfectly unique and spirit controlled beings that long for Him. I can see the difference in their lives, little bit by little bit. The apologies are more readily offered, initiated from within their hearts. The voice is humble and sincere. The desire to change flows from their souls.
The fighting, the lack of respect, the sassy backtalk, the whining, the blatant disobedience will never completely go away. Lessen, hopefully, but sure to cycle round again. God has called me to be a mom and at those times I cry out to Him, "Who am I?" as Moses did in Exodus. In those hours of doubt, stress, confusion, disappointment and utter defeat, I will remember God's response: "I will be with you."