Tuesday, May 13, 2008

On Life, Love, and Parenting

On the way home from working on our new Old House today --by working on, I mean walking around holding the baby while Mark, and my mom, and my dad, and Mark's dad and a hired worker all are very busy fixing things but I just walk around and hold the baby and tell the big kids to go out and pick up sticks from the backyard. There are no toys or much to do for the kids. But they contribute to the new Old House by helping with the landscaping. And while they're busy, I usually have about 94 seconds in which to listen to Mark make decisions about what should go where, and who can do what tasks and when we'll be ready to put the walls up. All the while, doing the very important job of holding the baby and making cute little sounds in her ears and saying, "Pretty Pretty". A lot. See? Everyone's got their job.-- Anyway, on the way home from that, Claire said, "I can't wait till I'm a mommy." Brief pause. "Because then my children will obey me."

Hmmm? I was a little taken aback by that observation, but before I had time to probe further into her little psyche, she clued me in on what was going on in her mind.

"Like, when it's time for bed and I'm trying to go to sleep and I tell them to stop talking, but they don't. They don't listen to me." (While we're in our transitional living space, Claire and the twins share a room. She really misses the quietness of her own room. ) Back to Claire's observations, "But when you come in the room and say Stop, they stop."

Here's where I get a little smile on my face and I'm glad she can't see because I'm driving and she's sitting behind me. I giggle because I'm having lots of thoughts about why they stop. And even though I'm afraid to hear the answer, I ask Claire, "Why do you think they stop when I say it?"

Then my chuckle turns to a cringe and I sort of shrink down in my seat and duck my head because I suddenly changed my mind and don't want to hear my daughter put words to the various ways I've behaved this week. I'm waiting for:
a. 'Because you can spank them', or
b. 'Because you yelled at them yesterday', or here's the worst consequence,
c. 'Because you'll take their blankies away!'

But she didn't say any of that.

Here's what she said, "Because they love you more than they love me."
And then she was silent and I was speechless.

Maybe for some of you, that doesn't really mean anything. But as for me, I was flabbergasted and shocked and curiously, deliriously happy that she gets it! We've been very purposefully parenting with a Growing Kids perspective for 4 years now and She really gets it! All this parenting mumbo-jumbo we're doing and working on and teach and live and repeat . . .she really gets it!

That was one of the best moments in parenting yet! My six year old, let me say it again,

THIS six year old knows that obedience comes from love. And if she understands that in the parent-child relationship, she is well on her way to understanding how to grow to a woman after God's own heart.

I know many a 30 year old who think obedience comes from fear. How many times have I done what was right only because I was afraid of the consequence of doing what's wrong? Or do you hear about someone doing something good to make up for the bad they've done? Neither are examples of obedience born from love.

But that's what God wants from us. Obedience because we love him. That's what I want from my children. For them to obey me because our relationship is worth the sacrifice of their own sometimes strong and sometimes whimsical, impulsive ideas. That is love. Laying down your life for another's. Laying down what you want, because you love the other person.

I'm delightfully blessed to be a mother today. And thankful that God gave me a tiny peak into what I'm producing.

If you, too, are on this parenting journey, take heart! You are building into eternity. The thing about kids is that they grow into adults. These little snotty noses and million questions and temper tantrums aren't alien beings. Most of us prayed to have children. I prayed for mine. I wanted them long before I ever became their mommy. Don't give up on them today because they don't yet look like the fully-adjusted, loving-God adult they're going to be.

Don't throw in the towel on parenting by saying it's too much work to teach obedience, patience, love. Make their journey to God a short one. Teach them obedience. Not because they're scared of you, but because they love you. Or maybe you've never learned that yourself. We love God by doing what he says. Period. You can't teach it, until you do it. Don't you wish someone taught you that when you were 6 instead of having to figure it out on your own in a state of post-party nausea at the age of 24?

All of that to say, SHE GETS IT!!!!! That makes me happy. And in case she doesn't remember tomorrow what she said today, or she revokes that answer and goes with c. you'll take their blankies away, I've now recorded it in cyberspace so I have a zillion witnesses. :)

Okay, stepping off my soapbox, now. How did that get in here?! I'm gonna go work on that Adventures with Uncle BJ post.

1 comment:

Kelly said...

Wow! That was so neat! It made me tear up a bit! Isn't it cool how God uses our relationship with our children to show us how he thinks and feels about us. It was so encouraging to hear that our children get it and in turn we get it. Thank you so much for sharing!! I needed to hear success story today! :-)