"Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails." 1 Corinthians 13: 4-8
Popular parenting experts assert that we shouldn't tell our kids we're proud of them. Apparantly in our desire to affirm we have "good job'd" our children left, right, and center--until the only reason they do something is to please us and receive a pat on the back.
I desperately want my little people to have their own internal motivation and to feel confident that they can do what they set out to. I don't want to cripple them with spoken words--even my positive ones.
So for years now, in moments of accomplishment large and small, I've mainly said something like "You should feel proud of yourself" or "Doesn't that give you a good feeling inside?" or "Look at you!"
And it does feel good when we make right choices, and we should feel proud of ourselves.
But what to do with those feelings of my own, when the pride in these God chose me to spend my life with rises in my throat until I can hardly bear it?
When Elijah decides to share something precious to him, when Jonathan rushes out to clear the driveway of snow so Steve can get to work, when Trishna spends hours writing and drawing and finally fills an entire book?
I get that I don't want them to be dependent on my praise in life, I do. I am starting to believe, however, that in a world of growing insensitivity and insecurity--a world often lacking in compassion or recognition--mothers and fathers are uniquely positioned to speak out and proclaim over our little ones that we see gifts in them.
That we notice. That we like what we see. That the way they've been designed is right, good, glorious.
And so I will let those feelings rise in my throat and I'll celebrate their coming out clear and strong. I will believe that, instead of crippling them, these words will strengthen the inner confidence my babes already feel inside about who God made them to be.
I will tell my kids I'm proud of them. Because I am. Because it's the truth.
Because they need to hear it.
“The desire to reach for the stars is ambitious. The desire to reach hearts is wise.” ~ Maya Angelou
One minute from my thoughts is a host of distractions: a husband's birthday cake to bake, a field trip for the kids, a party with friends.
The details and days of a busy new year--with deadlines, goals, and delights up ahead. Smiles from a boy with a dimpled face, glimpses of another sleeping in Mommy and Daddy's "much cosier" bed, joys and excitement of new-fallen snow and a hill to sled down.
Hot chocolate with maple syrup and marshmallows for when they come inside.
There's a welcome-home greeting for a just-arrived husband, another need to discipline and separate siblings who for a moment become enemies, a dinner to plan and to make.
The beauty, love, and mundane annoyances of family life--lived large and full.
But below the surface, five minutes from my thoughts, are details that keep me up at night...still. That lead me to the couch to sob for a few minutes while the kids play upstairs. The recollections of friends and their children--touched by evil itself.
Five minutes from my thoughts, there's the sick, numb feeling that waxes and wanes according to which street I drive down and what direction it takes me--past which signs, memorials, or schools.
There's the Christmas play we attended on Main Street the night before. The six-year-old and his brother darting in front of me with loud giggles.
The reading his name on the victim list two days later.
Five minutes from my thoughts, there's a mother down the street. There's a boy that used to play
outside. I can't drive by her house without a desperate, wordless prayer. I take courage from her own inspiring words: "My grief is not so overwhelming that I can't move forward. I am moving
forward. And I am not walking, I'm running--just like my boy did."
The dance of forward and backward. Like it or not, we find ourselves in it. I may not write about it in this space too much, as the healing lies in the moving on--not in the glances behind. But it seems inauthentic not to give it voice one more time.
Because in the midst of a meaningful life I adore and treasure, in the midst of a new book scribbled away and thought of often, in the midst of happy, healthy children, December 14th remains just five minutes from my thoughts.
Please continue to send your prayers this direction.
"What happened in Sandy Hook is reverberating all over the country and
even the world. It seems that we've reached an end point in our
acceptance of violence, as well as the neglect of our attention toward
the most disturbed and desperate among us. The kindness and strength that we have
seen within -- and toward -- Newtown this past month is an example of
who we can be as a nation."