About two weeks ago, my sister traveled from the Raleigh, NC area to surprise mom for her 60th birthday. It’s always a party when my only sister’s in town! We talk daily by phone and text but there’s absolutely NOTHING like having her around.
During one of our heartfelt chats, she gave me what unbeknownst to her was probably one of the greatest compliments I’ve received to date. She told me that she could see how I was raising Matthew and Caitlyn with mutual respect and that they were well behaved.
It’s not something that I publicized or even had a blueprint for. It’s not like I saw it coming up. As loving as my parents were, respect was a one way street. They came up under the era of “children should be seen and not heard” as well as things like “talking back” and being “hard headed”.
I’ll admit, I’m not a friend of my children by any stretch of the imagination. lol! Israel may be a friend of God but in my house, my children are NOT my friends. lol! However, that doesn’t mean that I don’t love them and try my best to show them respect.
One of the hardest things for me to try to develop personally is my own right to have a voice. It’s hard for me to speak up for myself and deal with things that bother me as they happen and in the moment because for so long, I was made to feel like what I felt did not matter. If it hurt me, so what? If it bothered me, so what? No one seemed to care and eventually, neither did I.
But I wanted to start a different pattern for my two children.
I want them to know that they have a right to express themselves as long as it’s done respectfully.
I want them to feel like I hear them when they speak and that their thoughts are welcomed.
I want them to know that with me, they have influence.
Now what they want and what they think won’t always change my decisions, but I certainly do take their desires into consideration as much as possible.
I’ve been known to make three different meals for breakfast, lunch or dinner. That was made a lot easier by the simple fact that Matthew has three major food allergies and Caitlyn does not. Often, he’s unable to eat the things that she eats. I could just as easily limit Cait’s diet to Matt’s needs but I don’t. She gets to choose what she wants and he gets to do the same, within the guidelines of his dietary restrictions. Some would say that’s way too much work for a mom to take on.
That’s why I don’t listen to what some would say. 🙂
Sometimes it seems like I’m yelling and fussing about the same things over and over again to my children: “Get down!” “What’s that in your mouth?!” “Tell him you’re sorry!” “Stop jumping on that bed!:” It’s my job to correct them and I do. I may not correct them as much as my parents did me. Trust me, my mom (who I’ll write about later) seems to think I’m a little too lenient. I’m quick to remind folks that my children behave age appropriately. They are NOT miniature adults and normal, healthy children laugh, squeal and generally make noise. It is NOT normal to hit, bite, kick, punch and maim people and small animals. None of that is occurring in my house so can we all calm down? lol! There’s generally a high level of noise in my house. I can take it. I know what it’s like to grow up in a library. No talking. No laughing too loud. No playing too loudly. No messes. I can’t tell you how many messes I’ve witnessed my children make and how many more I’ll observe. Funny thing is, before my children were born, I spent a decent grip of money on a formal livingroom suite. Needless to say, small children care nothing about formalities… NOTHING. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen things broken, stained and ripped. And guess what? I didn’t die. One thing that my children have taught me is that when something new enters your world, it’s YOUR responsibility, not theirs to accommodate the new thing. So the formal sofa’s not so formal anymore, nor is the livingroom. It’s now call the family room. 🙂
When my sister told me that she could see what I was doing and that it was working, I was beyond humbled. I didn’t dive head first into parenting books. I didn’t take parenting classes. I’m not against any of those things but I’m a living witness that the Holy Spirit IS a Teacher. If you listen to His gentle whispers, He will guide everything you do, including the raising of your children. When Caitlyn developed a hair pulling habit, the Holy Spirit revealed to me the solution. When Matt was getting ill for an unexplained reason, the Holy Spirit revealed to me it was a food allergy. When either of them exhibit a behavior that I don’t quite like, He always reveals the source and the solution.
I give Him thanks and praise for it all!
But the point I want to leave you with is that moms so appreciate the encouragement that you give to them. It’s a challenging job with more critics than helpers. No matter who’s on their job or not, it always falls back on the mom. Whether we’re tired, sick or facing our own emotional battles, there’s no pause button. We do our best to instill the right values in our children, hoping that when they’re away from us, they’ll be the amazing little human beings we know they’re capable of being. So when a school teacher, Sunday school teacher,. relative or friend comes up and says, “Your child is so well mannered”, or “She’s so thoughtful”, it’s the best news of our day.
Good moms aren’t in it for praise and glory. God knows nobody’s handing it out in abundance anyway.
But a compliment to our children IS our praise and glory.
In our hearts, it lets us know that we’re doing something right.
Maybe I do give lots of hugs and kisses and let them stay up past their bedtime a time or two. But when I hear that my children are compassionate, thoughtful and concerned about others around them, it lets me know that these are traits and attributes that they can see in me and they’re sinking in.
It’s a feeling I can’t describe or do justice with words.
If you know of a mom who has amazing children, please tell her. You may think she already knows because her children are just like totally awesome and so stinkin cute. But trust me, when she’s at home begging them to eat green beans or demanding they find their missing left shoe, it’s hard to see the progress and the impact of your parenting.
Let her know she’s seen and appreciated.
Let her know she’s making a difference somewhere between playtime and bathtime.
Let her know that her labor is not in vain.
Thank you Babe for letting me know.
I’m gonna keep on keepin on for them.