Wednesday, July 25, 2012

The Prescription for Good Children

This morning I was sitting with a dear friend, sipping coffee while our children played, and we were talking about motherhood.   She made a difficult decision lately regarding her child's schooling, and has struggled on both ends of the decision.  Ultimately we agreed that often as mothers, we start comparing our children to other people's children, and we start trying to figure out what the "prescription" is for having a good child, and we try to emulate what other people are doing.  The problem is, what seems right for them may not be what's right for us.

This comparison trap seems to start when we're first pregnant and we compare ourselves to other pregnant moms (weight gain, cuteness factor, whether or not they eat lunchmeat or tuna while know, important things like that).  Then it moves to the birthing stage, where we compare birthing stories ("Ohhhh, you had to have a c-section? I'm sorry.....I had my baby on my living room floor" and things like that). Then it moves to the newborn stage ("my baby is 6 days old and can hold his head up high!")  and with each stage of mothering, it only seems to get worse.

At some point we start comparing our kids behavior, and trying to find the "key factors" that make good kids or bad kids. And that's where we get all messed up.  We see another person's well-behaved child and try to figure out what that parent is doing right and what we're doing wrong. Only there is no prescription for good children (really, there isn't), and we feel like a failure when our child seems worse than our friend's child.  We wonder if a certain prescription is the answer - more prayer?  Having them memorize verse?  Homeschooling them?  Staying home full-time?  Reading a certain parenting book?

Photo Source
If we have a well-mannered child, we can also falsely concur that it is our stellar parenting skills that got them that way, and we can dish out advice in our head to all the "other" parents out there.  I admit, I have done it before, and my kids aren't even perfect.  We all do it at times, because we all have pride in our hearts.

So, in our quest to be the best parents and have the best children on the block, we can inadvertently take way too much credit for something that only God can do.  A child's heart is His, and He will move in their hearts despite our best efforts or greatest failures.  He is the author of their hearts, whichever school they go to or whatever friends they have.  He is the One who can change hard behavior through the Holy Spirit, when we have done everything humanly possible and failed.

We can do our part, but we have to be careful not to take too much credit for what only He can do.  Another friend was telling me how another mom called her and said, "On my sons 4th birthday, he accepted Jesus into his heart!" and it wasn't so much excitement that she was sharing, as it was almost a "dig" at the other mother, like a way to compare the two boys. It was a way of trying to take credit for something only God did.

We can also take credit for our kid's behavior based on the choices we have made as parents, giving pride a foothold, silently judging others, assuming that their kids would be better if they had made the same choices.  

I'm not saying that we should just give up or throw in the towel and be horrible parents.  I'm not saying to NOT make educated, wise choices about who our children are with, what school they go to, what shows they watch, etc... All of those are influential on our children. But let's be careful that we're not taking too much credit for the state of their hearts - something that only God can mold and change.  Let's be careful that if He has blessed us with good children, that we are not judging other people who don't have it all together.  Let's be careful that we are not patting ourselves on the back too much for things He should be getting all the credit and glory for.  Because if there were a prescription for good parenting, only God knows what it is - and what it is for one parent might be drastically different than another.  

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Joy Through Pain

This week Micah took a fall- a big fall- and had to be rushed to the ER for 7 stitches right under his eye.  He was walking in our front yard, tripped on a brick, and fell face-first into our metal park bench.  He has never been hurt that bad, and we had never made a trip to the ER before (a miracle, considering we have 2 boys), but there we found ourselves.

As we waited for 5 hours for him to be stitched up and receive the results from the CAT scan, there were moments I felt so overwhelmed by his pain that my mother's heart could barely handle it.  Yet there were also moments where I just felt thankful - so thankful that it wasn't worse, thankful that we have insurance, thankful that we got a room so quickly.  I was thankful that the doctor said that "it was a miracle" that it didn't puncture his eye, break his nose, or tear his tear-duct.   She said it was her most complicated case in 2 days, but he was one of her best patients.  Again, thankful that Micah had such courage and was so still when he needed to be.

We left at 11pm, and on the way home he threw up all over me. But I felt thankful that I was holding my baby boy, and that he was going to be okay.

As I'm getting older (last week I turned 36), one thing I'm realizing is that in moments of pain, there are still things to be thankful about.  It is hard to find them sometimes, but they are there.  Sometimes we are searching so hard for a lesson to be learned, a word from God, an answer, that we can forget to have a thankful heart, and just remain in the moment.

We are on Day 3 of recovery, and today Micah's eye opened back up after being swollen shut.  Again, I'm thankful that the doctor wasn't the one who had to open it.

Micah doesn't want to go anywhere or see anyone; he is very self-conscious of his face and does not want to look at himself.  But I see the healing taking place and I know he is getting better every day.

Tonight I wanted to get the boys out of the house after being cooped up for 3 days, and on the way to the beach, Jaden started screaming with delight in the backseat. I didn't know what was wrong, until he screamed, "A rainbow! A rainbow! I just saw my very first rainbow!!"  I pulled over and turned around to see huge smiles on both boy's faces.  Kids know how to be thankful and find joy in the simple things... a lesson we can all learn.

We arrived at the beach and Jaden got out of the car with me.  Raindrops started falling, and he looked up and said, "I LOVE the rain!"  Again, the little things...

We were then embraced by one of the most beautiful sunsets I have ever seen! 

A friend posted this on Facebook of tonight's sunset
One of the greatest lessons we can learn in life is how to find joy through pain - instead of whining, finding things to thank God for. I don't have it down yet; it is still a struggle, but my children teach me these things. And for that, I am thankful.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Adoption Auction!!

Just a quick note to ask everyone to stop by my friend's Adoption Auction, being held this week only! There are some GREAT items listed (including 2 of my friends available for dates) :) Most items are for pick up in Orange County, CA - but there are a few items that can be shipped.  Check it out!!

Monday, July 9, 2012

A Glimpse of Heaven

Sometimes in life, and in blogging, there is so much going on, that to stop and actually process it seems like another task and it can be overwhelming.  In the past month we have had a vacation, my sister's bridal shower, her bachelorette weekend, her wedding, and so many fun things in between that I could write for weeks! 

Today I was reminiscing about all the activity, and how we've been on a "high" from one activity to the next, flitting and fleeting to and fro, and all of the fun therein. Yet at some point the activity just stops and life becomes quiet again.  Today I felt that low, commonly felt after a fun-filled experience, where you realize nothing exciting is coming for awhile, and you start to wonder "what now?" The peace, the stillness, is welcome, but it is also deafeningly silent after all the noise.

So we return to the norm - to life, to tasks, to dishes in the sink and laundry that needs to be folded, to kids that get cranky and meals that need to be prepared. 

And yet I realized that all of those fun moments, filled with family, friends, and laughter, of being together and making special memories, are just a taste of what is to come.  As I drove to the grocery market today to refill my empty refrigerator, I missed those people who became a part of my life these past few weeks. People I barely knew became close friends as we worked, sweated and united together to pull off an amazing event. 

A picture came to mind- about 15 minutes before my sister got married on Saturday, she shouted "Let's have a dance party!"  One girl got out her ipod and blasted fun music while all the girls jumped and giggled and danced for 10 minutes.  They "got all their sillies out" as the children's song says, and I stood back and took it all in.  Is this a taste of heaven, or what?

A bride, who had every good reason to be stressed out and in tears, broke out in dance with her best friends, because she realized that it was a day of joy.  I'm so proud of my sister! 

So what does this have to do with all the hustle and bustle of life, and going back to the everyday mundane?

It is moments like this that remind us while not every moment in life is worthy of dancing, hold onto those moments that are, because they are a small taste of what is to come.... This is not our home, remember?  All of these moments are glimpses of eternity with Him in heaven, rejoicing, dancing, praising, surrounded by those who love us.  If this is just a glimpse, imagine how great that day will be!

That alone should give us reason to push through the days of nothingness, because each of those hold special moments too.  Although we may not have a fun activity coming up for weeks, we have something even greater to look forward to.  All of these in-between moments of joy are just a glimpse of heaven.