My first grader reluctantly exited my car to go to school this morning. I dropped her off via car line, our usual method. While snaking around the car line, she daily suggests we go back home. “I can be homeschooled,” she’ll resolve. We talk about this, I encourage her to share her smile and love and she heads off to school. This is a typical morning.
I always feel a little pressure in my chest as I watch her walk from my car toward her classroom. She looks to grown! Today something else pressed on my heart.
I saw a fifth grade girl duck behind another girl. She was hiding from someone. Another student, presumably.
Who? I wondered. Why?
The girls were laughing, playing. I do not believe they had any pointed malice.
BUT, if the child she hid from knew she was hiding, how would that child feel?
Would her gesture be welcomed, would they all laugh about it? Or would it make that kid feel rejected? Ruin their day. Make them feel worthless and disliked. Make them want to run back to their mom’s car and beg to be homeschooled.
Would it press on their heart like it did mine, leaving them feeling sad all morning?
Was she hiding from my daughter?
A simple act. Maybe teasing. Maybe funny. Maybe meaningless. Maybe devastating.
This happens all the time. It’s part of what kids do. I’m sure I did it when I was a kid! And, I’m sure I was also a kid someone hid from. We’ve all “been there,” right? So why’d it hit me so hard today?
Because I’m no longer a kid. I’m a mom of a kid. A mama bear of three (almost four) kids, though I don’t think it matters how many kids we have.
Whether one or ten kids, we want to protect our children.
We have the best intentions in mind as we craft safe places for them where they don’t hear negative words, see inappropriate things or be on the receiving end of anyone’s ignorant, hurtful behavior.
We feel a massive pressure to protect our children. Because we seem to have so many more options in how to educate our children and which clubs/sports we choose (community vs. faith-based), I think this pressure is even greater now than it was a generation or two ago.
Our world is a scary place. Five minutes of the news is mind boggling to us all!
We want to end hurt. We desire to treat others as we want to be treated. BUT, if you treat my kid badly, you better KNOW I’m going treat you worse…or at least have a HUGE urge to treat you worse! We can forgive those who hurt us. Even those deep, scaring wounds.
Nothing is harder than forgiving someone who has hurt your child.
So we try to control this life for our kids. We try to “fix it.” We shelter. We veil. We establish parameters and remain in control, even if it is behind the scenes. This is parenting. This is what we ought to be doing. Right?
Maybe? I think…?
Let me fully disclose that I learn anew EVERY SINGLE DAY that I do NOT know what I’m doing as a mom! My kids throw curve balls at me when I’m still in bed! My kids hear me say (ok, yell!), “I just don’t even know what to do with you right now! I don’t know how to respond!”
Motherhood has humbled me in a shocking way. This blog is not going to give myself or anyone else any clear answers on how to rear and raise our kids.
I hope you keep reading anyway!
No shortage of thoughts raced through my mind this morning as I rolled over the asphalt and turned toward the school exit.
Should I homeschool? How? Does my son’s preschool have a first grade class? I know they have kindergarten. Maybe if I spend the next nine months pleading, they will open a second grade class for next year and we can ditch the big public school scene. The one filled with selfish, ignorant kids. Certainly a private Christian school would have none of this evil. Every child would be thoughtful and kind. Always. Wait, but even my children are not this way! They have a bent toward thinking of themselves and forgetting how their actions may make others feel. They are kids. Human kids. Born into sin. In need of a God who forgives. They are just like all the kids at this big public school…
But, God, I want to protect my children! Can’t you just tell me HOW?!
Asking God how to raise our kids is a scary thing because we know He allows pain and suffering. God desires for us and our kids to know and need Him more than he seeks to give us a happy, pain-free life. He cares less about our happiness and more about our completeness or fulfillment…which is only found through Him.
We’ve all chased happiness for ourselves and kids. But if we raise our kids to only plot out their “best path” to their happiness, then I’m terrified we will have severely misled our kids. They will live in continual discontentment. Longing. Selfishness.
Our good intentions to shelter and “fix it” may rob our kids. It may steal opportunities for our kids to grow in confidence and humility, to fall into God’s loving arms and let Him remind them of who they are. It may hinder their ability to see that the world is bigger than them. That it’s not all about them. That there is purpose for their life and that purpose is not to pursue happiness.
Sigh… What now?
Like I warned you: I don’t know! Ha! Really, I don’t. But I can tell you a friend just introduced me to a group called Moms in Prayer (www.momsinprayer.org). A few moms from my daughter’s school and I are meeting weekly to pray for our school and students. They are moms I do not know well. They are moms – just like all the moms at school – who sincerely desire the best for their kids. Moms who are trying their best as moms. Moms who love their kids.
When I put it into this perspective, I can’t help but think about the mom of the girl who was hiding. She loves her child and doesn’t want her child to hurt another OR for her own child to be hurt. She’s pursuing motherhood just like the rest of us: rowing through uncharted waters in an unsteady boat. But persevering anyway. Appreciating a boost back into the boat when she falls out.
A boost you or I can give her.
A boost that will help her, her child and us as WE see that the world is not all about us and OUR kids, but about God and love and forgiveness and perseverance and fulfillment.
So I will pray. I will pray for my daughter. For the girl I saw this morning. For her mom.
Because when I do that, I can’t help but start to accrue little bits of love for all involved. I can’t help but remove my own selfish, albeit it well-intended mama bear, glasses and create an environment where moms are working together to raise and teach and guide our children. That we aren’t here to compare or be weakened by guilt.
I hope other moms will pray for me and my children. Because my kids are kids of this world, just like yours, and they will need grace, guidance, forgiveness and encouragement. I don’t want people to write them off for a foolish, childish mistake. Anytime. Trust me, my kids will make tons of childish mistakes. And I will make mistakes in how I respond to these mistakes. My kid may certainly hide behind someone someday. They will — and have — given “looks” and attitudes to other kids (and adults. Oh, the shame. Really. Sigh.) that cause me to stumble and wonder how and why and just, I don’t even know… Please don’t judge us. We are trying our best. I promise.
Second chances are the best! Maybe even better than first successes.Character is built through steadfast perseverance and humility.
My prayer? God, replace my urge to control and fix with an urge to pray and hope.