She almost burst with enthusiasm, as she pulled her first preschool report card out of her folder. We were about to make lunch and she looked at me, asking if we could go over it together after she ate. Setting the bread to the side, I walked over to the couch, sat down in the sun and asked her to join me.
Lately, I’ve been trying to remove the phrases “in a moment” and “we’ll do it later” from my vocabulary. I’ve realized that when I say “in a moment”, I usually forget and when I say “we’ll do it later”, it often never gets done. Someday when I’m gone, I want my kids to remember me as the mom who did it then- not later or even worse, not at all.
And so, we settled into the couch together, while the peanut butter, honey and bread waited for us on the counter. Together we went through the report card, talking about her strengths and the areas she needs to work on.
As we flipped the page over, there in the comments section, was what I’ve always known about my free spirited, never-holds-still, wild child, who’s challenges me like none other and who’s filled with a heart of pure gold.
“She brings sunshine into any room she’s in. I’m so glad she’s in mine.”
All evening, I’ve been thinking about those words. Since the first time she wiggled in my tummy, she’s never held still. She falls off her chair about 5 times a day, she talks loud and she cries easily. Sometimes I’ve doubted that I could really be everything that she deserves to have in a Mom. I’ve questioned my patience and my anger. I’ve felt guilty and inadequate. From talking with close friends, I discovered that I’m not the only one who has ever felt this way about her daughters.
I recently sat on a couch with a dear friend and we talked about our daughters and our struggles with them- their emotions, mixing with our emotions. How they remind us so much of ourselves and how hard it is to handle all the big feelings.
As I’ve been watching my girls love big, cry hard, twirl, sing and dance, play with their babies and push boundaries, my prayer as their Mama has been changing. They want to know they’re loved and valued. By default, I try and control them, unintentionally putting their free spirits in a box, taking the twirls out of their steps. What they need is someone who understands, who’s on their team, gently showing them the way.
I’m realizing that the child who tests us the most, is also the one who needs us the most. Our daughters need a Mama who has a soft heart toward them, who parents them with gentle confidence and understanding. Sometimes I think we just need to allow God to soften our hearts towards our kids. I used to want the perfect formula for perfect behavior, now I just want their hearts and I want my kids to know that they have mine.
That spirited child, the one who’s pushed me and challenged me like never before. For every ounce of emotion she has, she has twice the amount of love to give and the ability to feel for other people. She feels things big, she laughs loud and she cries hard. The funny thing is that I totally get it, because I’m the exact same way. I guess that makes me the perfect one to be her Mama.
Whether 1 years old or 15, what our girls need more than anything is for our hearts to be soft towards them. They need a gentle leader and I can’t think of anyone better to show your daughter the way than you.