It's the first age that really sounds kind of shocking to me. I thought I'd always be the mama of babies, toddlers. And suddenly I have a five year old boy. He is not a toddler anymore. When I think about Drew my heart feels like it's flooding... The feeling rises, high and fast, til it can't be contained and the walls feel like they're bursting. My firstborn, my little man, my sweet Drew bear, he is always surprising me with who he is, with all there is to him.
We went to the football field to do his five year old photos. There's something to be said for when the passions of two people meet... I love taking pictures of my boys for each of their birthdays, it is definitely a passion for me. But I never want them to feel like it is just for me... I try to come up with ideas that they will enjoy, ways to make it special for them too. I knew Drew would love going to the highschool and going out on the big football field. And it was amazing how much fun we had together doing things we both love, me taking pictures, Drew exploring the track and bleachers and football field. When we were finished taking photos Drew said he wanted to take a walk around the track with me. So we held hands and walked the full circle together, talking and laughing, me savoring the feel of his little hand in mine. Then we went for ice cream together. It was so special getting to spend one on one time with him.
Ending on that smile that I love so much... His real smile is the most joyful, heart warming thing ever.
I need to be honest here... Parenting Drew was the most difficult it ever had been the past few months. He was just really at a place of testing the limits, pushing us on boundaries, and although defiance is a really strong word I'm not sure what other word to use for what was going on. I was at a loss. And it was happening in the midst of the busiest season of our lives thus far. I kept thinking "I don't have time for this right now..." And the Lord stepped in and totally convicted me of that attitude. Being a mom is not just some casual title I carry, a responsibility to keep them alive, fed, and meet their physical needs and call it a day. It is an assignment from heaven to steward their souls, to care for their hearts, and in tough seasons to guide them to Jesus to learn the right way to manage themselves.
My natural inclinations of how to correct his behavior were falling short in every way, only making things worse and not seeming to help at all. Shaun and I had lots of talks about what to do. I started reading a book called "Shepherding a Child's Heart." Now, I did not have time to start reading a book. I had deadlines, work to do, tangible things to accomplish. But every time I started to think like that I felt a gentle nudging in my spirit. Read. Spend time in the Word. Talk to the Lord. Invest. Even though it seems like madness to set aside time to do something that will not produce results I could look around and see right then, the fruit of that time spent with Jesus and trying to grow as a parent would be richer and worth more than anything else I could possibly accomplish in those moments on my own.
Three things I got from the book so far that have made all the difference:
-unholy anger has no place in parenting.
showing anger when dealing with wrong behaviors only muddies the waters of the true issues going on and teaches your child to be afraid of you, thereby creating an idol of the fear of man instead of the only healthy fear, which is a fear of the Lord. It distracts from the real issues and causes fractured parent-child relationships.
-I have authority in my child's life because God gave it to me, and it's purpose is to lead them into relationship with Him.
when Drew is disobedient, instead of letting it offend me and letting it push buttons of anger/irritation/frustration or taking it as a reflection on who I am, I need to instead think about how his behavior is affecting him in his relationship with God. Knowing this is what has helped take all the anger out of parenting for me. I don't need to take things personally and can instead focus on directing my kids to deal with things in heir hearts between them and God.
-discipline is not setting aside your love for your child in order to correct them, it is actually a manifestation of your love for them.
when anger has no place in your interactions with your child during the consequences to their behavior it is much easier to see how discipline is born out of a heart of love. The Lord corrects those He loves, and a wise man values His corrections.
One more thing I was convicted of while reading is this: do I want my kids to value things or people? Am I more upset by a ripped shirt or a hurt brother? What do I emphasize and value in my own life that my kids are silently learning to place value on as well? I always want t o value people most highly in my actions, thoughts and words. I don't know if what I just shared even makes sense, it is so deep and such a shift in my way of thinking and I tried to condense it down so much in this post.
Basically, I went into this thing trying to figure out how I could "fix" Drew and realized (painfully at times) that there was a whole lot more that needed "fixing" in me. I am the only person I will ever have complete control over, and I want to always be willing to take a good look in the mirror and own up to my short-comings, knowing that through the power of Christ at work within me it is always possible to grow, to change, to learn, and to become more like Jesus. Praise the Lord, as I have walked this road to evaluate myself and ask myself hard questions in order to become the mom I was created to be, Drew's pushing and testing has all but stopped completely.
Drew has taught me so much about love. The way he loves me is incredible. The way he looks at me and gently touches my face and smiles at me, especially when I lay down with them at nap time, is something I will cherish forever. If I have Jaden in one arm and am trying to carry something else heavy too he always comes to help me. If Shaun and I are play wrestling Drew is my knight in shining armor. He always sticks up for me and comes to my rescue. He wants to be around me, wants to be held, wants my help, my attention, my love and my affection. He wants to tell me stories about tractors and pretend bear hunts and lego towers and airplanes... He longs to be loved and affirmed. And I will lay down my life to be the parent that I need to be for him. I never knew it was possible to want so badly for someone to know how much you love them. The love I have for my first born boy is insane. It goes beyond description, deeper than I can say. It is the love of a mother for a boy who changed her whole world, brought her face to face with herself, and inspired a journey to become all that she can be. For him.
So what does all this have to do with being present in the moment? The only thing I can say is this: When something big is happening in your relationships that you value most highly, whether you "have time" or not, make time. We don't always get to choose where we are most needed. We just need to be aware of where we are most needed, and then respond accordingly.
Be present for your kids.
(This post is part of a 31 day series on being present in the moment)