The hardest part of blogging for me isn't finding subject matter or even the words. I spend all day with kids and I don’t talk to other adults much. What is hard is knowing that the reader may judge me for what I write. And knowing that sometimes makes me hesitant to write… but it doesn't stop me.
Last night with a group of friends who are mostly moms, I found myself relaxing. One says they sometimes feel terrible because they just hate their kid and we all give that knowing head nod and wait… sure enough she says, “Okay, I don’t hate them, it’s just so hard some days. I mean I love them to death but…” <Long sigh and a shrug of the shoulders.> this is where she expected judgment, but it wasn't coming from any of us.
Any mom who says they haven’t had that moment at least once is lying to you or herself. Caring for someone else is hard. Having to teach them everything is harder. Having others tell you you’re doing a bad job is the hardest.
A mom’s guilt goes deep; so many of us are still dealing with things in our own childhood that we can’t quite get past. Even mild things like being told we sung poorly when we come home with medals saying otherwise. Then my child sings and I almost repeat the same words I heard over and over again. To them it was in good fun. To me it was heartbreaking. So while I was thinking the words, “You sound like a dying calf in a hail storm.” I stopped mid-sentence; “You sound <long pause> wonderful.” I teared up thinking how could I possibly regurgitate that mess? She sounds great. She can carry a tune and even has some soul that makes this mama proud. But it almost slipped; just like it did over and over and over again with my parents.
We’re learning as we go. We step back after a tough situation and we look to see if there’s development or devastation. And try to figure out what to do the next time to make it better or sustain what we have. And it’s not easy. Between childhoods that have holes to adult lives that can get overwhelming to friends who say your kids are the devils spawn in jest, but you suck in your breath thinking, “Really, that’s how you see my children?” The kids who hug everyone who walk in to the house? The ones that love to help when they see someone carrying something or clean up with a song and a smile. These aren't devil spawns; these are kids with so much joy they can hardly contain it.
So what am I doing wrong? Am I being too honest? Should I just show Justice’s A/B report cards? Should I tell everyone how great she does in Tae Kwon Do or that she’s writing music and lyrics and wants to give them to the church. Just so they can all praise God together with the music that comes from her heart? Is telling the world that my kids are kids just too much? That they make messes or that they fight at times? I've seen other kids, I know what happens in our house is no different… except perhaps our house is quieter. We don’t yell. We don’t discipline out of anger. And we take a breath before we speak so that the words we say don’t do damage in the future… just to stop a moment in the present.
I want to take this moment to tell you who my kids are. So there is no confusion. So that no one will ever call them the devil’s spawn or suggest that I might not spend enough time with them.
|Justice the artist.|
Justice is 9 and excels at math and science. She loves to read. She loves martial arts. She loves art in all its forms. She sees the kid on the side of the playground and she calls their name and asks them to join in. She addresses the bully with love and apologizes to her teachers for not working as hard as she could. Justice is curious and drives me nuts with all her questions, but her insight to life is amazingly accurate. She is still so innocent and whole heartily believes in fairy-tales and magic and though she is starting to question it all I know she’ll love continuing it for her brother and sister… because she cherishes them. Yes they fight, but every night I check on them before I go to bed and she has her arms wrapped around them both. She is wild in spirit and happy in heart and she fills both of mine daily.
Marshall is 3 but works harder than many a grown man. He loves work. He loves to help his daddy carry his gear in from church. He helps with projects getting tools or holding things together. Like his daddy he has a servant's heart and wants to lend a hand wherever he can. He mimics his daddy from the way he walks, the way he stands to the quiet way he conducts himself and how quick he is to help others. I see a boy who will one day fill his daddy’s shoes and he will do well… or perhaps excel. He is my gentle soul with a loving heart. He fills my day with so much love I’m brought to tears by its simplicity and honesty.
Mercy, also 3, is all energy. She skips wherever she goes. She loves to yell at the top of her lungs whether it’s out of happiness, sadness or frustration. She’s small and wants to make sure she’s heard… always. ;) And though this can be frustrating the amount of excitement that this little girl produces is contagious to almost everyone within a 50’ radius. Whether we’re in the store where she stops the lady and her brand new baby and tells her how pretty she is. Or the old woman who stops to tell her she’s cute and Mercy asks to hug her. She is what love looks like with its passion; messy and fierce and barely contained. If she’s allowed to stay that way she will set the world on fire. She fills my life with excitement and shows me that life should be lived without worry.
|I often use my friend Brooke's photos because she 'gets' my kids. |
She sees them the way I do. I love her all the more for it.
Those are my kids, and not on their best days, but everyday. They are little people with big ideas and dreams that make me want to try harder. They challenge me everyday with ways to entertain them, to teach them and to love them. I fall short of those expectations, but they never fall short of mine. I will make mistakes but they will know they never were. They are perfectly who they are meant to be today and as they grow and learn and love they will be perfectly who they should be then. Markers on walls, scratches on wood floors and a 33 on a paper doesn't make me a bad mom and it certainly doesn't make them bad kids. It just makes them kids… and by me loving them no matter what will do better at teaching them what God’s love looks like then telling them they should try harder. The world already tells them to try harder, to go to school longer, and that success is measured by your ‘stuff’.
My kids are learning that school can teach you how to succeed in the world but not how to succeed in life. That the value of our things are not a measurement of who we are but that our actions and how we love and care for each other are. My children are learning character and in that I can rest easy in knowing I’m doing my job.