This is a big transition year for me and my crazy household, and if I needed any visual reminders of this, I wouldn’t have to look far. I can find those reminders all over my house…most frequently in the form of training bras.
Wait a minute…what?!
Yep, you heard me right. Training bras. And I keep finding them everywhere.
As if it is not weird enough that my little baby girl is wearing a bra, I am confronted with this reality on a regular basis. No out of sight out of mind denial allowed! Nope. They are everywhere, and no, that is not an exaggeration! It’s like having a constant visual reminder of the new territory we have entered.
I find them in my bedroom (not mine, hers, in my bedroom!). I find them in my bathroom (again not mine!). I find them on the dining room table (what the…?!). I find them folded and nicely sitting on the bottom of the stairs… (again…why?!) I find them in the middle of her bedroom floor (at least this makes a little more sense)…hanging from her bathroom door knob (again, makes more sense). But the point is, I find them everywhere!
And if I needed further reminders of this weird threshold we’ve crossed, the eye rolls, shrugs in answer to my questions (questions that in the past would have initiated long, enthusiastic conversations full of hand gestures and sparkling eyes), and the exasperated groan that the address “Mom” has taken on (I miss Mom sounding like an endearment…) readily supply all the necessary evidence.
Only my littlest still calls me Mommy–and she makes it sound like a badge of honor!
The other two make it sound like a synonym for silly or stupid or embarrassing.
We’ve definitely crossed into a different world, one in which mom is no longer cast as the hero. (Sigh… I liked being a hero!)
I have to face it. Suck it up, Mommy! It is time to adjust. Take the bitter pill and swallow it down.
My babies are no longer babies, and every year that passes, they are going to need me a little bit less.
But that’s the point. That’s the objective. It’s okay. In fact, it’s more than okay–it’s as it should be. I’m teaching them, and giving them the tools, to be independent, capable, mom-free individuals.
It’s right and it’s good, but it also puts things into perspective. I find myself really taking stock of our time. It’s like I feel the sands of the hour glass sifting through my fingers. My time is limited. My impact will change and lessen. I want to be sure that what I give them is what matters most. I feel a sense of urgency, as if my opportunity to imprint upon them with what is most important will soon be gone.
What do I what to imprint on them? What do I want to make sure they take away more than anything else?
When I ponder this, I come down to two things that I want to make sure that my children leave my home knowing.
The first is the most important thing that anyone can ever know: that they are loved unconditionally. That no matter where they go, who they become, what mistakes they will make, there is always someone in their corner who will love them, fight for them and never ever give up on them–no matter what.
How do we communicate this to our children?
By loving them through every mistake and every disappointment. By spending time with them and talking with them. By giving hugs and kisses and snuggles. By taking long walks and listening to their anger and tears, disappointments and fears. By laughing together and playing together. By forgiving and being humble enough to admit when we’re wrong and forgiving some more.
Too often I see families who are so busy, they forget that it is these simple moments that build the foundation of a family.
It’s not the gifts we buy, the activities we do, or the vacations we go on.
Your child doesn’t need the latest and greatest this, that, and the other thing. They need you. They need to know that you care, that you are engaged.
It boils down to quality time simply being together–and that doesn’t have to cost a dime. A game of cards or a walk before bed–one on one time with your kiddo where you are 100 percent focused on being with them, listening to them. No cell phone. No TV. No distractions.
When my children look back at these years, what are they going to remember?
Are their memories going to be of a short-tempered, overworked mom who was rushing them from one activity to another?
Or are they of snuggles and cuddles? Walks and laughter?
Are the latter moments frequent and strong enough to outweigh those short-tempered, frazzled moments, because we have those too…we’re only human after all!Which will leave the strongest impression?
I need to self-check. I need to continually remind myself to make a focused effort to make sure that, no matter how tired I am, no matter my level of stress, when my children need me, I turn off the TV(or in my case, put down the book), turn off the cell phone, and pay attention.
I need to model what being engaged means. I need to model love and forgiveness, humility and compassion–so that they know they are loved and so they know how to love.
The second thing that I want to impress upon my children before they leave the nest is that they have a responsibility. They are not put on this world to be happy (though I hope they will be). They were not put on this planet to achieve their personal dreams (though my hope is their dreams will be molded by this understanding and so they will find them fulfilled). They are on this planet to leave it a little bit better than when they found it. They need to give back.
I remind my children on a regular basis that it is not simply about what they want…Yes, I ask them what they want to be when they grow up, but I follow up with a reminder that it’s not just about what they want to be, but what God wants of them, and how they plan to give back to this world.
I refuse to have my children leave my home believing that they are entitled. I want their focus not to be on what they deserve, but on what they can do for others, how they can make this planet just a little bit better.
Of all the lessons I can, and will, teach my children, these are by far the most important.
As time slips through my fingers, I am making a concerted effort to ensure that they will leave my house knowing how greatly they are loved (because my heart aches with love for them, in their highs and in their lows–in their triumphs and in their failures), and also being equipped to love and spread that love wherever they go–determined to give back.
If I can teach my children these things, no matter my failures as a mother, I will have succeeded.