Wow, has it really been a MONTH since I posted last?!?! What is happening to this Autumn? And shouldn't it be winter by now? This time last year my kiddies & I were BUNDLED like Stay-Puft Marshmallow Men. We couldn't go outside without coats, hats, mittens and boots. And now...I've played soccer outside every day this week with John in our t-shirts. Some of those times we've played without shoes or socks. We went to the park yesterday with friends and had to take our jackets off cause we all got hot. Can it be??? Will they actually be able to trick-or-treat this year without jackets OVER their costumes???
Yikes. Strike that last statement/question. Just checked the weather and it's dropping to the 40s in a few days. So much for my fantasies of going to the pool on Christmas. Good thing my kids like playing in the snow.
On a completely unrelated note (sorry, my ranting about the weather will hopefully be short-lived this year) I had a thought tonight about parenting. Since I've had children I am struck at least a dozen times a day by the parent/child construct and its relationship to ourselves as children of God. I see the way my children sometimes view me, the way I view them, the opportunities as well as punishments that I dole out based on performance...the list is almost endless. And since I seem to have a hard time remembering all of these learned lessons, I thought I'd write down at least ONE that occurred to me tonight. I had been dealing with the oft-experienced meltdown that occurs at the dinner table, calmly demanding that the dinner provided had to be eaten. I finally pulled out the big guns and declared that "only children who eat their soup will get Rice Krispy Treats," something we had planned to make together after dinner. At some point in this debate John informed me, "you're not a very good mother." Thankfully I know his moods well enough (and how he feels about me) to not take it to heart and just shrug with a smile and say something trite like "I'm sorry you feel that way." Because in reality, I feel like I'm a better mother because I allow them to make choices. They can choose to eat dinner and get dessert. Or they can choose to NOT eat dinner and NOT get dessert. Either way, I'm not making them do anything against their will (that is not always the case...sometimes kids are just dumb and don't make good choices so they need adults to help them along...especially when they're under the age of 5). And I knew we'd be fine within the next few minutes. And we were.
Fast forward about 2 hours and I had put baby Dew to bed, only to hear him crying within 20 minutes. I assumed he was just fussing and getting settled, so I left him to his own devices. Eventually I want him to learn to calm himself down so he'll be happier and healthier in the long run. Sometimes he can do this, sometimes he can't. So it turns out tonight was one of the times when he was NOT going to calm himself so after a while I went to him to hold him, feed him, change him, do whatever it is he needed. He has a long time until he needs to be able to take care of himself so I'm happy to do it for him. As I held him and rocked him, I assured him how much I loved him, even though I left him alone for a while (he was still sniffling and upset from the effects of his crying) and that just because I didn't do what he wanted right away didn't mean I didn't love him. In fact I was listening the whole time, waiting on pins & needles for him to calm down, to learn for himself what to do in that situation. But when he needed someone to take over I was right there.
So that got me thinking about the earlier situation with John. They both thought they wanted and/or needed something right away. David needed comforting and wanted to eat (again). John wanted to avoid the yucky soup and dig right into dessert. But as the loving mother I want only what's best for them, or at least what I deem best during that situation. Just because I don't give John exactly what he wants when he wants it doesn't mean that I'm a bad mother or that I don't love him. Just because I "ignore" Dew's crying doesn't mean that I don't love him. Or that I'm really ignoring him, for that matter. I want them to learn from their experiences. I want them to make choices and see what the results teach them. Of course, baby is only 9 months old, so I'm not going to be real technical on this last one with him. When I realize that he's not getting it yet, I'm ready to jump in and help him feel better. (I'm also a big softie with each subsequent kid because I'm realizing that I have limited time in which to hold babies...and I'm going to squeeze every last drop out of that nirvana of baby time. And anyway, how could you ignore this face?)
And that led me to my relationship with my Heavenly Father. Do I think He's ignoring me? Do I imagine that He is unconcerned or somehow impotent because I'm not getting exactly what I want when I want it? Could it be as simple as that I just need to eat dinner before I get dessert? Or that I just need to learn to solve things on my own so that I can grow? I don't think the fact that we cry, ask, beg, despair, etc. about life and don't seem to get a response has much to do with the way our Father feels about us, except to indicate that He loves us and wants what's best for us. Not to mention that He actually KNOWS what's best for us in any given situation. There are plenty of ways that I fail as a parent because I can't always see what's best for my kids or I lose sight of it because of my own failings. But I still believe He knows what's best and have come to trust it completely. But sometimes I still need reminders, so I'm glad I got one tonight.