Friday’s Post: A Mother’s Heart

Friday’s Post: A Mother’s HeartPlayer Attempting to Get Rebound

I’m posting today at Not Alone mom on a Mother’s Heart.  What a privilege to be a contributor to this ministry to mothers who need to know they are not alone!  Come and join Krissy and the rest of the Not Alone Mom family.  This week I’m posting what a mom feels when her son is profusely bleeding on the basketball court and more………….. read the rest here).

Have a great Friday!

How To’s for Releasing a Child

Today is one of the lasts of the lasts. I celebrated my youngest’ thirteenth birthday. One of the milestones of lasts. The last child to leave childhood. The last child to become a teenager.Birthday Party

I was teaching child development and parenting to freshman girls when this child turned three, realizing I would no longer have a toddler. This last brought tears.

We’ve had the last preschool graduation, and the last elementary Christmas program. Yesterday was the last time to take birthday treats into a classroom.

Having released one child and in process of releasing number two this school year, I look at our list of lasts and realized these milestones are important. I’ll confess there’ve been moments in parenting I’ve wished away. And there are moments I’d go back and cling to.

I’m learning releasing children begins the minute they are born. Having a mindset that our children are on loan to us from our Father makes it smoother when it’s time to let go. Here are some other things I’ve learned in raising to release.

1. Expecting independence when they’re young is important. The releasing process at eighteen becomes easier when you see them thinking independently and taking responsibility at earlier ages. Once a child is old enough to master a skill, it’s important to let them be responsible for it at age appropriate levels. Helping them push through situations and tasks with guidance rather than doing it for them fosters confidence and security along with independence. This gives parents confidence, too. When releasing happens, we rest easier because we know they can make sound decisions, can problem-solve, and can do things without us by their sides. This gives parents security, too.

2. Letting them develop their skills and interests separate from ours is important. It was a rude awakening when my daughter was five and I realized she was more like her dad than her mom. My expectations were that she’d have my interests. It was a good lesson for me to learn, seeing my child as an individual, not an extension of me. It’s been a blessing to see kids develop their own unique interests, places where they blossom.

3. Teaching them to develop their own personal relationship with God is important. Encouraging them to have personal bible study or devotional time when young begins making God personal to them. Training them to pray on their own, modeling with them how to talk to God in prayer about the daily things in life makes God real to children. As my kids have entered adolescence and adulthood, I’ve been able to trust God with their decisions because I know the kids have consulted Him, too.

4. Training them to think forward is important. Walking through future consequences of present choices is important. “Don’t ever go out with someone you wouldn’t consider marrying” has been a common phrase in our house since kids were in elementary school, wanting the kids to realize there’s more to relationships than just thinking someone is cute. Habits of judging good character starts young, and influences on character development also starts young.

5. Developing your own personal skills and interests while developing those of your child’s is important. Children need to know life does not revolve around them. They need to know parents are not on this earth to pick up after them. Releasing a child begins when we also release ourselves to be things other than being mom or dad. It’s good for kids to see their parents in other roles because it gives them strength and confidence in developing their own skills. This looks different for each phase and stage, but its important for children to see. When the children are gone, this helps the transition.

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So the thirteen year old’s friends are gone. This is the mess left behind. I’ve picked up the food, he’ll pick up the rest, and then I’ll sweep. Training in action, releasing in process.

Like arrows in the hands of a warrior, are children born in one’s youth. Psalm 127:4

Power of the Paper Plate

A couple of years ago, after spending two weeks as a camp counselor, my daughter came home with stories about mentoring 5th grade girls.  While I was making dinner, she sat at the kitchen table with two paper plates.
Mom, have you ever heard of putting paper plates on your back and having people write things about you on them?

I’d seen that activity done in an alternate version, but I thought the paper plate was clever.
I still have mine from when I was a camper in 6th grade.  Here it is.”

She shared some comments people made on her plate as a counselor, and asked if I wanted to read them.  I took the cue this was important to her, and she wanted to share this personal experience with me.
She left the room, and I picked up both paper plates, reading the words of encouragement people wrote this young woman whose love for Jesus flows to those she mentors and serves with.  Then, looking at the plate from six years ago, I remembered a shy young girl trying to find her way entering middle school.  The fullness of her teenage years flooded my mind, acknowledging the influence the camp experience had in shaping  her life ……people showing interest in her, loving and encouraging her, seeing leadership abilities in her, drawing her to mentor young girls as a counselor.  Experiences changing her life.

And here was a soon-to-be-19-year-old, sitting at my kitchen table, soaking in new words of encouragement just as important as they were at age 12.  Words validating the woman she is becoming.

There is power in such a simple act – a paper plate and some simple words.  In a world where words are catapulted into our lives via texts, blogs, facebook and twitter, overloading us with information, here simple sentiments on a throw away dish provide joy and confirmation.

I was reminded of the Power of Words… and how I often fail to share words of encouragement because I am busy or tired.  The paper plate lesson reminded me to be more generous with simple words, because they can have unlimited power we may never see.

I was blessed to be reminded by paper plates on my kitchen table.

What about you?  Where do you share simple words of encouragement?

Pass the plate, please?

On Raising Girls

My one and only daughter is coming home tomorrow.

She’s twenty-one. Not a child.

Every mother knows in her heart,

that adult child is still a toddler with fingers curled around hers.

As my Firstborn comes home, well seasoned to college life, my heart weeps with joy and regret over our path.

Thankful for time invested and for time redeemed.

The following list is one I posted two years ago when she left for college.

Two years later,  fruit of time and faith sown into a child is evident.  Seeds God grew at just the right time.

Things I Would Do Again

  • be home full-time to watch her grow
  • have tea parties
  • play dress ups
  • read her books
  • take her to parks
  • sing to her
  • have play dates
  • lay beside her bed and pray for her when she’s sleeping
  • take her to museums
  • take her on a road trip
  • be honest about my life when she asked hard questions
  • have her dad intervene when she wouldn’t listen to me
  • have her dad date her when other girls had boyfriends
  • tell her dad what girls need to hear
  • write her notes when she didn’t want to listen to me
  • make time for her even when exhausted
  • talk to her about sex at age-appropriate levels
  • stand firmly even when it hurts
  • hold her loosely
  • stay up late when she wanted to talk

Things I Would Have Done Differently

  • trusted God earlier and more often
  • bit my tongue more
  • walked away more
  • let her and her brothers work out fights more on their own
  • given her space more often
  • realized some things are just that way, and it’s okay
  • realized earlier she’s not me
  • listened more
  • lectured less
  • prayed more
  • been more patient
  • told her I was proud of her
  • appreciated her more
  • encouraged her more
  • given more grace
  • hugged her more
  • held her just one more time

Somewhere between Barney and the mountains of Virginia, God took these seeds and watered them well.  He yanked  out weeds choking growth when shoots were tender.

When she was five, I realized for the first time she was not a product of me.

As an adult, I realize she’s absorbed things I didn’t think she was paying attention to.

That’s the mystery of parenting.

The things you think you’re responsible for, you’re not

The things you doubt they absorb, they do.

The other mystery of parenting?

Somewhere between Barney and Virginia,

they grow up

So neither he who plants or he who waters is anything, but only God makes things grow.  I Co 3:7

 

Daughters are a heritage from the Lord, children a reward from Him.  Psalm 127:3