Day 118, Items Purchased: 0, Temptation Radar: 0
“Little kids, Little problems. Big Kids, Big Problems.” I will never forget the first time I heard this remark, although I honestly can’t remember who coined it. The quote says it all. It seems as though when children are small, the earth-shattering types of crisis are related to topics such as potty-training, biting a classmate at preschool (thankfully, I didn’t have to deal with this one), and temper tantrums. As they grow, the challenges magnify to school selections, extracurricular activities, and friendships. The distinctions we make early on regarding wrong vs. right seem to morph into more terrifying life vs. death scenarios. In the learn-as-you-go crash course on the how-to of parenting, it’s easy to become overwhelmed and second guess the choices you make in guiding your children.
This weekend, I spent a lot of time thinking about my kids. I can’t really say what triggered such a state of contemplation. Perhaps it was that I noticed a sudden maturation in Owen’s appearance. It’s as if the toddler mask is being lifted to reveal the transformation from baby to child. His opinions are becoming more concrete, his decisions more deliberate as his personality begins to reveal a glimpse of what he may become. All at once, it was abundantly clear to me that my goal as mother consists of 3 simple tenets: instilling strong moral character, inspiring loving hearts and providing limitless opportunity to follow their dreams.
I promised today never to parent defensively based on mistakes I made, nor force them to relive my abandoned dreams. Rather, I purposed to listen to them, to understand their unique gifts and abilities, to give them a voice. I desire to facilitate a journey toward a place of happiness and fulfillment for them. I hope for them the accessibility to great a education, opportunity for travel, and a life full of rich and meaningful experiences. Conversely, I think it’s important for them to see need. I want them to be mindful of those who lack and to be compassionate toward others.
As I was cleaning my house this weekend, I heard a voice whisper softly inside me….“Live with less so you can give more.”
Perplexed, I was unclear about the thought. Does this mean give more to the poor? We are charitable people. I pondered it all afternoon, with no specific clarity. Today, it began to make more sense. You see, I can’t really say that I’ve joined the ranks of the “put yourself last” motherhood alliance. I don’t subscribe to the notion that I’ve done for everyone else at the expense of myself. Truthfully, I think many in my peer group, if they are completely honest, would agree. We are a pretty egocentric generation of mammas. Afterall, we’ve been empowered. These power mammas know the importance of girls nights out. They play tennis, volunteer in community social groups (only to serve, of course….we get no PERSONAL benefit…ah hem.), work jobs they love, and enjoy accomplishment. They go to bunko, book clubs, bible studies, etc. Many mammas have hired house help, eat out frequently, and other offerings that lighten the load. Let’s face it, we are not our mothers’ mothers. Am I right? Yet, there is still this “I sacrifice it all for my family” mentality. But, do we really?
I’ve spent much of my adult life indulging in my own pleasure…..shopping and hobbies like photography, sewing, beading, decorating, music, the list goes on. The search continues to “find” some concealed facet of myself that can be developed, cultivated and enjoyed. I felt like when I heard this phrase, it was an admonition to take a back seat now and sow into the future of my children. Give them opportunity. Teach them. Invest in their dreams. Stop searching for myself. Transfer the discovery to them.
Today, I made a list. For once, it wasn’t a list about spring staples to add in closet, or places I’d like to travel or my to-do list for the week. It was completely about my children. It was a list of things to explore for them that will be important in the next 12-18 months. It was a vision for our family. Earlier in the year, I asked the question “What are we really shopping for?” This afternoon, I feel like I’m a step closer to uncovering an important part of the answer.