Thursday, June 5, 2014

Sorry to Have Broken Your Heart

Dear Girls,

As a mom, one of the most painful things you'll ever have to endure is watching your child hurt.

When you were babies, I wanted to rush to you upon hearing your cry.  I kissed your boo-boos to make them "all better."  The thought of you being bullied causes me to want to turn the world upside-down just to seek justice for you.

It's quite a natural phenomenon.  It's in us.

Yet there are times, I believe, when I must let you hurt.  There are times when I must step back and allow natural consequences take over so you can learn a lesson.  An incident occurred Monday morning that caused this to be at the forefront of my heart.

At 5:30, I was awakened by you, Jyllian (9) who, in a panic, rattled THIS off to me:

"Mom!  I need you to get up right now!  I have a field trip today and I meant to tell you about it but we got busy over the weekend and I forgot and I need to find my permission slip and you're gonna need to pack me a lunch and I need my S.M.A.R.T. shirt and I'm sorry I forgot to tell you but I need you to get up now okay?


Did you hear me?!"

I struggled to open my eyes and mumbled the only thing I could think to say at the moment:  "What?"

You repeated a slightly different version of your speech, and as you finished I knew my day was already off to that kind of Monday morning start.  You know the kind.

So I dragged myself out of bed, and by the time I was done preparing my coffee I had already been through a whole crazy spectrum of emotions.

At first I was angry with the school.  I thought, Really?!  Geez!  Four days before school ends and they're going on another field trip?!  Good grief, they just went on one last Wednesday!  Why are they even required to go this last week if they're not even doing any academics?!  Ridiculous!

Then I was frustrated with you because you have always struggled with being organized and remembering things.  I pictured you at school on Friday, at the end of the day, busy talking, and laughing, and--well--worried about everything BUT bringing home your important paperwork.  I shook my head as I wondered if you'll ever get it together.  Then are a typical nine-year-old girl.  So.

Then, in true mama fashion, I switched into problem-solving mode.

I thought, Okay...where's the S.M.A.R.T. shirt?  Crap, it's dirty.  Alright, that's okay, give it the sniff.  Good, it doesn't stink.  I'll throw it in the dryer to get rid of the wrinkles.  Now...let's check the book bag.  Maybe she overlooked the paper.  No, not in there.  Crap.  What if I write a note?  Yeah, I'll write a note.  Or should I shoot her teacher an email?  No...a note.  That'll give them written permission.  Yep, no biggie.  We'll figure this out.  I'll fix this for her.

And that was my intent.  I couldn't stand the sight of your little eyes brimming with tears.  I couldn't bear to think that you would have to watch your friends and the rest of the entire third grade leave, and would have to sit in the office for the entire day.! <gasp!>  

But something happened as I stood there next to the running dryer praying through it and waiting for your shirt to fluff.

I realized that, while it may be easy (and satisfying!) to save the might not be the right answer here. 

Because what would I be teaching you if I fixed this?

Jyllian, it's okay for you to be irresponsible with your important school papers and wait until the last minute to tell me things.  Although I'm trying to teach you responsibility and organization, I'm here to bail you out--even if it means totally stressing myself out and bending over backwards to do so.


Organization and remembering the important stuff are biggies on your list of things we're working on.  It matters.

So..I turned the dryer off.

I walked upstairs empty-handed and sat down next to you on the couch.  And prepared to break your heart.

I told you I was sorry that you would be unable to go on the field trip, but I had no control over it at this point.  (A half-truth.)  I reminded you that this is why it's so important that you bring home your papers.  I explained that I would not be doing my job very well if I didn't allow you to face the consequences of being unorganized. 

Your tears flowed easier now and your face was red, and I felt like I might as well have been taking away your birthday.  And Christmas, and Easter, and summer vacation.

And it hurt.  Bad.

But I found myself clinging to these three truths as I watched you finish getting ready for your day, with your world so obviously crumbling beneath your feet.

This is the time to equip and prepare.  Pop and I have come to a conclusion that has drastically changed the way we parent:  We are not raising children, we are raising adults.  We've learned that our role as parents is not to make sure our children have the best of everything and never have to face challenges or experience heartache.  Our role as parents is to give you a realistic view of the world we live in and then equip you with what you'll need to navigate the rough waters.  Things aren't fair.  Life is hard.  And I want you guys to become individuals who are responsible, well-adjusted, and know how to hear the word, "No."  It's okay for you to be upset.  It's okay for you to be angry.  And while it may be painful for me to watch, the sooner you learn that the world is going to keep on spinning anyway?  The better.  Because it will.  Trust me.

Actions have consequences.  And so does lack of action.  I'm constantly trying to get you guys to understand the cause and effect principle.  What parent isn't?  If you don't put your bike away, it will get stolen or damaged.  If you do not feed and water the hamsters, they will die.  If you are unkind to others, they will not want to be around you.  And if you neglect to bring home your field trip permission slip for Mom to sign, you will not be able to participate. It's really very simple.

My goal is to replace myself.  It was hard to take my cape off that morning.  I could've easily become the hero of the day.  Admittedly, at first I fantasized about presenting you with your shirt and a handwritten note that gave permission for you to go and watching you beam lovingly at me while I packed you a sack lunch.  But.  My emotional stance should never be that I need my children to need me.  I never want you to think that I am the do-all end-all, and that whatever it is that you're going through, I ALONE have the power to take care of it.  I've realized through my spiritual journey thus far that I should be pointing you away from myself, and toward a God who can handle it all.

The desired fruit of everything I'm doing right now in this season of life comes down to this:  I want my children to be responsible, independent people who live their lives for the glory of God.  I need to be willing to do what it takes to make that happen.  Even the hard stuff.

Now, the funny thing went on that field trip.  I had sent you off to school that day minus your special shirt and brown bag lunch, add plenty of tears.  But as I sat here stressing and wondering where you were and what you were doing and shedding a few tears of my own, the phone rang.

It was your counselor who, while she agreed with what I was doing, was unable to have you stay behind because there would be no one there to be with you.  And after I gave my verbal permission and hung up the phone, my heart leaped a little.  I recognized it as a gift.

Because I think I passed a test that morning.  Like us, God is a loving parent willing to shower His children with blessings and gifts and love.  It's in Him.  (Where do you think we get it?)  But, He's also willing to do the hard stuff in order to teach us the lessons we need to learn.

And I don't know if you "learned your lesson" that morning.  Probably not completely.  Just like your mama, chances are you'll need to have it taught to you several more times before you get it.  And that's ok.  I have A LOT of staying power.

But I pray that you are willing and able to do what it takes to give your children all of those gifts...the love and the hard stuff...whatever that may look like for you today.

"Children are a heritage from the Lord, offspring a reward from him.  Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are children born in one's youth.  Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them.  They will not be put to shame when they contend with their opponents in court."    Psalm 127:3-5


Photo // Death to Stock

Have you ever had to break your kid's heart? What lessons have you had to teach them "the hard way?"

No comments:

Post a Comment