This last week my heart has been focused on a couple of important issues. Over on my sidebar i had a widget linking to several bloggers who traveled to Calcutta India with Compassion International. I was almost obsessed with their testimonies and so touched by the faces of these children. Children living in such poverty my mind can't even get around it. More on this later.
Secondly, my heart was focused on my relationship with my teenage girls. Three of them, each so different in temperaments and personalities, with different strengths and weaknesses. I feel like this is such a crucial time in our home. When they were little, if I blew it as their mom, lost my cool, said the wrong thing....they were so resilient, so quick to forget my mistakes. Now that they are older I feel such a sense of urgency to "get it right".
When they mess up, when they are caught making bad choices, when they disappointment me ~how i respond and what I choose to say are so very critical. My words carry the power to tear them down , make them feel unworthy of my love, or to make them feel like failures--this world probably does a good enough job in that arena. Or my words can let them know I'm always on their team, I always have their back, I love them not only when and if they make all A's, never drink alcohol, and marry as a virgin......but that I love them, unconditionally. My words have the power to heal and to bridge the gap in our generations. At this time in their life , my words can stick with them for ages. They can play over and over in their minds, affecting choices they make, men they might one day love, and most importantly how they will parent one day too.
Yet as their mom, I need to instill a sense of right and wrong, let them know what behaviors will not be tolerated. To let them know I expect the best from them, yet not be shocked when they deliver far less.
Our home needs to be the safe place. A place where they can be honest and still loved at the same time. That's even hard for adults. So many of us hide who we really are, what we really think. Hiding behind superficial chit chat because what's really in our hearts is more than we think someone can handle. Or even worse, living in denial of true thoughts and emotions. I want to raise emotionally healthy girls. Girls who have a solid base and have their own convictions and faith, not just following what mom and dad do.
Sometimes I wonder if I expect too much from my girls, especially my oldest. She was only 3 years old when her daddy died, yet she seemed so much older. I never had to 'count to 10' to make her obey, she just did. When my youngest was born, at the young age of 8 she was already a huge maternal helper. I would have adult friends come over...I'd observe how they interacted with the baby. I vividly remember thinking Savannah was even more of a natural then some of them. I've written posts about her before....straight A's--all the way from kindergarten to currently in her sophomore year, a natural leader, varsity athlete...the list goes on. She's been a breeze to raise, but she's not perfect.
This weekend we had our first real issue. How I chose to handle her 'first offense' was going to be monumental in both our relationship and in her own maturity. I spent my free time reading several parenting teenagers and mom/daughter books -a parenting crash course if you will. I spent several hours trying to share my heart with her, acknowledge and apologize in areas where i clearly blew it. I wanted to spend time listening to her. You know, when they are younger I think we really do so much talking and teaching, yet when they cross over into adolescence its so important to make the decision to hush and really listen to them. If i respond to quickly in accusation and anger or even passive aggressiveness, i ( me, not her) i shut the door. I end the opportunity to connect with her, to hear her heart, to hear what might have happened before she made a bad choice.
16 years old...such a fun age. Such a great time to watch this baby of yours become an adult. She has a million friends. She doesn't' need me to be another friend. I need to be a solid, consistent mom to her. I feel like parenting is a waltz...trying to look graceful yet fearful i'll step on their toes and we'll crash to the ground. I'm walking a type rope, trying to balance being there but not hovering. To encourage, but not patronize. To show my support yet instilling punishment or consequences when there needs to be. "Cause all too soon the clock will strike midnight......and she'll be gone." I only have a few short years and I want desperately to be the best mom I can be to these girls. What good is it to have a wonderfully decorated home, volunteer at every event, have my hair colored every 6 weeks, count weight watchers points, or even have dozens of blog followers--what good is it to be a success in those things, if i fail at my most important call in life?
Many of you are familiar with Steven Curtis Chapman. I have a link to his wife, Marybeth's blog over in my blogroll. They lost their adopted baby girl in a horrific event when their teenage son accidentally ran over her in the family driveway. I have respected and followed them for as long as i can remember. Their faith and their raw walk with the Lord during this unimaginable time is such an inspiration to me.
This year Steven was awarded Artist of the Year and Song Writer of the year in the christian music awards , the Dove Awards. The song I've linked is a beautiful song about raising daughters. Its from the perspective of a daddy, but I tear up every time I hear this.
May it bless you....
Because all too soon, the clock will strike midnight.....
(don't forget to pause my playlist first)