May 9, 2013

Back In Time

5/09/2013 — cori
This morning I was looking for a picture to show the kids from years ago.  On my quest, I came upon this one instead and laughed out loud.

My....where have the years gone.  What is hilarious about this picture is Chloe and the disgusted look she is giving my hand that is laying peaceably upon her beloved stroller.  How dare I touch it!  She is even taking the precaution of pulling her arm away from my grip of death upon her stroller.  Oh the memories.  Chloe was, shall we say, very "particular".  She wanted what she wanted and nothing besides that would do.  She was two afterall.   There was never any coercion of our daughter.  We couldn't make her smile, say 'hi', hold our hand - nothing.  There was no parenting manual out there that was written with our daughter in mind.  The only thing that worked was, "HELP God, HELP!"  And He did.  He showed us exactly what Chloe needed and graciously kept me dependent upon Him every moment of the day.  Thank you Chloe for that gift.

Here is another great example of 'we couldn't make Chloe do anything".  In this picture we told her to simply smile.  This is what we got instead:

This was snapped as she was vehemently explaining, without words, why she didn't want to smile.  Gaping and acting shocked seemed more appropriate to her.

Now I can look back and laugh and remember the fun parts of the day.  But I'm sure on that day I was exasperated, frustrated and fed up.  I'm sure the only thing I wanted was for her to do what I wanted her to do.  It has always been a struggle of wills with us.  The boys were normally always very obliging and sensitive to what I wanted.  They lived to please me and still do.  I have to always make sure never to take advantage of that.  But with Chloe, God had something new to teach me.  The whole 'free-will' thing.

He gave us free will.  That was probably one of the hardest things to give (besides his life).  When you give someone their own choices, you risk that they might not do what you want or love you in return the way you want or act the way you desire.  I realized very early on that I could snuff out Chloe's free, stubborn will and force her to be my minion and obey out of fear or I could love her enough to give her the choice to fail over and over again.  It's never any parent's desire to see their children fail, but the fruit of that failure teaches them more than the parent's words ever could.  Some people are just wired like that. And I know one of them.

And I love that personality to pieces.  She is so much like me in so many ways and then in other ways she is a mystery to me.  I do not possess her stubborn quality, let's call it 'persistence' instead, that's the beautiful side of the coin.   She knows who she is, what she likes and wants and no one can manipulate her otherwise.  I LOVE that about my daughter.  She sets her mind on a course and sees it through to the end.  When she was two, that wasn't such an endearing quality, but now I'm ever so thankful for it. 

As we parent we must keep in my mind that we are raising little people who will eventually become adults who will have to survive without us.  We can't only worry about controlling them in the here and now.  Control is so damaging to a little heart.  It sucks the life out of it.  It leaves them without hope and/or confidence.  It makes them think they can do nothing without someone else telling them what and how to do it.  Our immediate will is not as important as training their little wills.  Training - not controlling.  Teaching them how to make good choices is hard.  It's easier to make them make the choices we want.  But that's not how God parents me and that's not how I want to train my little people.

Parenting is the hardest, funnest, saddest, happiest thing I've ever done.  It was never meant to be easy.  Character, joy, thankfulness and heart changes are born out of conflict.  We need to see these parenting challenges as the gift they are not the inconvenience to our day that we often do. 

When the doctor handed me my newborn on the day he/she was born, I could hardly breathe.  I couldn't believe I was holding the most precious gift in the world at that very moment.  Awe blanketed my face.  Now that they are 14, 11, and 9 I pray I still look at them in awe with a heart bursting with gratitude as I did the day they were born and not take for granted one single day with my most precious gifts in this life.

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