Earlier this afternoon when I had things to do, I found it positively thrilling that my children each fixed their own ‘lunch’.  Granted for a few it was tortilla shells straight from the bag and random fruit items, another made instant oatmeal and the forth did a strange combo or previously cut up oranges, cheese slices and radishes.  Nevertheless, they ‘did lunch’ all by themselves.  Even making hot chocolate solo.

I was THRILLED, I tell you.  I couldn’t BELIEVE the ecstasy of knowing that lunch was happening without my involvement while I shopped for new ‘maze’ books for them online.

Then tonight came.

I look around at children that should be about 6 months old and see 1/3 grown, independent children.  One of whom, my 6 year old daughter, knows about as much about fixing meals as I do and is begging to learn ow to do pancakes ‘all by myself’.  Her wish will be granted.

But as I enjoy these growing stages and love the freedom it brings to me as a mother of 4 small kiddos, I find that it’s also frightening.  That while I celebrate these things, I also mourn – to some extent- the passage of time that I have not ‘done enough’ in.  My son is 7, after all.  Another 11 years.  That’s how much time we have to watch him grow into an independent man.  If that.  He may beat the clock and be all those things at 15.  And while I hope for that, while I pray that he will be a mature and godly man earlier rather than later, it makes the time I have with him as a ‘mommy’ seem so much shorter, so much more important.

As in, WHY ARE YOU BLOGGING INSTEAD OF BEING VITALLY INTERESTED IN EVERY MOVE YOUR CHILD IS MAKING!?

Why?

Because if I don’t do things that need done and a few that don’t, my kiddos would still be highly dependent on me.  My daughter would not have learned to serve her brother by retoasting French Toast, buttering and slathering it with cinnamon and sugar to the point that they looked as if they had chocolate mouths.  If I were everything to and for them, they couldn’t learn to be anything for anyone else.

But they have.  My oldest son asked his grandmother when she arrived if she had anything she needed help bringing in.  Then he went out and brought it in.  His heart is growing all manly and care-takerish.

My daughter already enjoys serving others and also went out to help bring things in.  Her heart is already in place to help others and love them.  And also to let her mother know REPEATEDLY that motherly yelling is not something she appreciates. Directed at her or not.

My 4 yr old son is already helping his little sister with her tasks and helping her reach things on the rare occassions that she needs assistance.

And that little 2 yr old sister of his?  Well, she constantly asks grandma if she’s cold, needs help getting her shoes off, wants her granddaughter to put her to bed and so forth.

You can’t help others until you learn to do things for yourself.

For that reason, I’m trying not to let this sense of “Must Do More” overtake the sense of “Raise Helpful and Useful Children”.  Both are probably true in their own right, but if one were to overpower the other, we may have a problem.

So…

For yet another evening, I yield to the fact that parenting is basically an extended state of conflicting purpose statements that must balance correctly and cause an almost constant state of ‘Which of these should I be working more on.’ confusion.

And I’m okay with that.

For some reason, the most awesome kids can come from the least perfect parents.  I’m kind of counting on that here, my kiddos.  Don’t become awesome kids because of me.  Instead, survive me and let God turn you into something great.

Because as talented as I am at encouraging your own efforts in the kitchen, I don’t know what I’m doing there.  And I’m hoping in a few years you will all know how to cook those nutritious meals I’m so not into right now.  😉

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