Lessons Maddie has taught me

Twelve years ago yesterday, I held the most precious, wide eyed, soft skinned little baby my eyes had ever beheld! The next day, after the labor pains and still exhausted, my lessons began. The hard knocks of parenting were leveled at me. I got my first taste of judgement and learned the hard truth that I will mess up, and I won’t do everything just right. I learned that parenting is hard work and requires diligence and attentiveness. I realized that it hurts you when they are hurting and how much of a failure one mistake will make you feel and that emotions can rise and fall hourly with the mood or well-being of your child.

I also learned that what I knew of “love” was insignificant in comparison to what I felt for my sweet sleeping daughter in my arms. I learned that for someone that had grown up feeling used for her body, my child using me was entirely different. I realized that her dependence on me was necessary and that no matter what I felt or what I wanted, she had to come first. I learned the value of uninterrupted sleep.

I’m still learning.. And messing up.

And, in my failures I am becoming a better parent. I’m learning that it’s best to just say no than to say yes and regret your answer and have to go back and set higher standards. (A lesson one can only learn through the struggle of mistake.) I’m learning that they grow up way too fast, that the phrase, “you’ll blink and she will be grown,” isn’t an old wives tale but a literal blink in time. I’m learning not to rush the moments, not to hurry their independence, and to take every moment to pour into their hearts the love that only a parent can have for their child.

I’m learning the importance of faith and the wisdom that it brings. I’m seeing through her childlike faith that relationship with God is a journey and doesn’t just happen over night or because I desire it. I’ve had to learn that just because I am tired or sick or impatient doesn’t give me a right to take it out on my kids… and that God will correct us if we mistreat them. I’m learning that it is less what she hears about Christ and more about what she sees in me, a Christ Lover. I’m realizing that as much as I long to see her fall in love with her Savior, I can’t force it. And I’m sadly seeing that as much as I would like to prevent any fear or doubt or pain from breaking her heart, it’s that struggle that will make her stronger.

I’m still learning… And I’m only 12 years into a forever life as her mom and 10 years in as the mom of her sister.

It’s not easy …But, my Teacher hasn’t let any of us out of His sight.

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I don’t wanna gotta!

My “gottas” are taking over my life.

I just gotta do so much stuff! I gotta do the laundry. I gotta do my devotion. I gotta do homework with my kids. I gotta go to church. I gotta write. I gotta cook dinner. I gotta go to Bible Study. I gotta tweet. I gotta update facebook. I gotta spend time with so and so. I gotta make sure my kids are lice-free (that’s a blog for another day). I gotta get it together! Suddenly, the other day I threw my hands up in surrender and yelled, “I don’t wanna!” And there was a moment of silence.

The words “wanna” became music to my heart so I had a dialogue with it. (David had a habit of that, too.) “Heart. Why don’t I wanna?” And it came back so clear, “Because I gotta.” Ever been there? And then my heart whispered back, “Remember the freedom of just wanting to?” And I did. It washed over me like a montage of memories. SItting at my computer, smiling, writing out a novel to my daughters and other daughters of the King not because I had to but because I wanted to. I wanted to make a difference. That picture was replaced with me sitting at the table with my daughter, laughing while we worked on homework, not because it was a chore but because it was a moment that we had to share. Then, I watched as that picture folded into another picture of me newly married, humming as I folded my precious husband’s pants, careful not to slant the seams. Then there was a vision of me joyfully pouring over cook books so that I could find something new and adventurous so that my kids would have an advanced pallet of taste, not because I felt they had to but because I wanted to introduce them to a world bigger than Mac-n-Cheese and hotdogs. And I enjoyed each moment.

I wanna feel that again.
I don’t wanna gotta.

So, I asked my heart, “How do I get back to that?” Then slowly it dawned on me…by removing the “gotta”. Sounds easier than it is, actually. Just replace a word or a feeling, but maybe it really is that easy. Maybe it is enough to simply say, “I don’t wanna gotta!” Instead I remind myself that I want to because I realize what a gift, pleasure, joy, service it is! “Gotta” sounds like a chore, a hardship, a task. But “wanna” implies a gift, a privilege, a fullfillment. So that is my challenge to myself this week: “Let go of the gotta and embrace the wanna.” It might be easier said than done, but I have a feeling that it’s gonna feel a lot more productive! Like now for instance, I needed to blog…but I didn’t have to do it in my house at my desk…that’s why God invented laptops. So, I’m doing what I gotta do where I wanna do it, in the sun on my porch as I watch my dog scamper around the yard. Sighhhhh. Now, THIS is something I wanna do again!