I feel at a crossroads with our kids. There are many such crossroads in parenting, of course, so many of them that we may hardly notice them. This choice or that choice, that time spent or frittered away, the yes, the no. But the last few weeks, I feel like I see them anew. Maybe it’s the sun warming our skin and the time we’re spending out of doors again. Maybe it’s that we’ve finally had some time to spend together uninterrupted, time to take long hikes and watch another child learn to ride their bike. Maybe it’s all of that and none of that. I just see my kids and think, Wow. Would you look at you? How tall you are! Character traits that had run below the surface un-noticed before: the way that kid always listens and has compassion for his siblings, always the one that falls behind to hold Ellianna’s hand and guide her. The way another child finds joy and laughter in everything, even the most trying of times. It’s all there, it’s always been there, but somehow we get these moments where our vision is sharpened and we really see our kids.
Of course, it’s not all sunshine. Sometimes the truth that comes to light is hard. We see bad habits left untended, ignored. Surly attitudes that fester underneath the surface. It’s hard to see these things, know these things. It’s easy to spiral down into feeling like a failure as a parent. And while I do think some heart-level searching and confessing needs to happen, I think we tend to get stuck there in a feeling of failure.
What’s been deep on my heart lately is that each morning is new. Every morning we get a fresh slate. For that matter, every moment is new. Every moment we can begin again, fresh, re-try, re-boot, re-build. These kids are incredibly resilient, incredibly flexible, and they are capable of so much more than we could possibly imagine. They will respond to new efforts to build relationship with them. We just have to start. One block on top of the other.
One movie that means a lot to me, although I haven’t seen it in forever, is “Treasures of the Snow” based on a book written by Patricia St. John. Throughout the book and movie, I was amazed and puzzled by the grandmother who had such patience with a child with a terrible attitude, and a bitter, angry and vengeful heart. I wondered at her patience because I was a mother who wanted to deal with everything RIGHT NOW. It is one of my big parenting failures that I wasn’t patient with the faults and attitudes of my children that weren’t pleasant. I panicked and thought everything was an emergency and required a heavy hand and swift discipline. I would encourage you to watch the movie with your children. I’m not sure whether it is available at the public library, but it is worth the effort. It’s a lovely story.
Don’t ignore these things, but don’t worry if they aren’t fixed immediately. Sometimes we carry things even into adulthood that we must still deal with. That is not ideal, but sometimes we are stubborn. I know I am. Have patience dear one and praise their kindness, their gentleness with each other, those wonderful things you are seeing.
You are doing well.
we have times of vision and times we do not; one raises one’s kids to a point of independence and all that is with them will be there’s to deal with; how to guide them with it; it’s hard; hard as we are frail ourselves; hard as I see many who at times have a hard time being ‘present’ to their kids, often do I think to very tiring and difficult situations; you’ve been through the mill yourself; God is with you; pour mercy on your children….