I've realized some things about myself. It's always good to experience somewhat of an epiphany (though I'm not sure I would exactly call it that) that is totally about yourself and is totally something you can change, fix, eliminate, or, if the epiphany is of sound doctrine, encourage in oneself.
Mine isn't the kind I want to encourage.
Trust. Control. I have problems with these things. I wouldn't say that I have "control issues," especially since that phrase has become so very cliche. I would say that, just like everyone else, I have trust issues, but not as in "I can't possibly trust another person" because that most certainly is not true of me. I am saying most of us, if not all of us, have had a trust issue at some point in our life. Ultimately, it is God we are not trusting, I am not trusting, and, when I have the most trouble trusting, I seek to control parts of my life to the 10th power.
When life was spinning out of control, or, a better way to put it might be, when life was spinning out of MY control, I really do believe that I clung to the Lord, but there was a part of my heart that was desperate for control, for normal, for routine. Some of this was good. My house was cleaner and less cluttered at times (and other times, there just wasn't time to do it). But most things weren't good. Routines are made to be broken, I suppose, and routine is not designed to be desperately clung to like poison ivy vines on a fence post. I might have been poison ivy at times.
I also missed cues, natural cues that should not have been missed, but I missed them none the less, and that's where my epiphany comes into play.
I own too much control. I practice too much routine. I do not give enough freedom to choose. I do not inspire enough confidence. I do not grant enough independence.
Let me explain.
My children are so capable, so smart, so mature. They are 10 and 12 and going on 21. Yet, they annoy me with questions like these:
"Can I have a snack?"
"Can I have soem more carrots?"
"Can I wear my pajamas today?"
"Can I change into something warmer? Cooler? Longer? Prettier?"
To these types of questions, I recently noticed my answers becoming rather snarky as I thought to myself, "Why in the world is my child asking me to eat if she is hungry? Why do I need to give her permission for this???" I found myself giving snarky question-answers.
"I don't know, do you know where to find the food?"
"Are there carrots left in the pan?"
Look of confusion.
"Are you going to church, co-op, practice, dance, or other public place? No? Why do I care what you wear?."
"Are you hot? Then change. Are you cold? Then change. I don't care what you wear. One outfit a day unless you are hot, cold, or need to feel prettier or want to pay the water bill and do your own laundry."
Then it hit me. My children aren't trying to be needy, and they know they are capable of making these little choices (they make much bigger choices every single day!). They aren't trying to revert back to the way things were when they were much smaller and needed to ask these questions. They are asking these ridiculous questions because I have always answered them. I have not necessarily required them to ask for a snack, but neither have I suggested that they own that part of their life (I may have had to place some pretty stringent rules on the clothing issues for a while when Ava was going through a 10-outfits-a-day stage).
The point is, our life imploded when my children were 6 and 9, and, because I wasn't tuned into their growing up, and because I've never raised an elementary aged or pre-teen child, and because they are by nature obedient, loving, children who desire to please their mother, in some ways, they are still walking these paths they walked at 6 and 9 in the ways they walked them at 6 and 9. I should have noticed. This isn't fair to them. Because I didn't, I have one child who does not understand the potential that exists within him. That is my fault. And that is what I need to fix.
So, a week or two ago, I embraced this epiphany and began to push.
And push, and push, and push.
At first, my kids just stopped and looked at me.
"Yes, you really can choose these things for yourself. Yes, you really can do that; you just don't believe you can."
"I have taught you how to choose healthy snacks. You choose. I don't care. Stop asking me."
She shrungs. She thinks a moment. She smiles a cock-eyed grin and says, "Okay," and then comes back frmo the kitchen with a steaming cup of hot cocoa piled with whipped cream.
My children do so many things without me. I almost never prepare their breakfast, they begin their morning routines without prodding (most of the time). I hand Lukas his assignment book and make a daily list for Ava, and they go to town on their schoolwork. I sincerely can't even relate to those homeschooling parents who argue with their kids to get them to do their assignments each day (oh, we have moments, of course, but daily? Never.). Chores, now, those we have to discuss sometimes (daily), but I have a 12 year old who randomly cleans without being asked or told just because he saw that it needed to be done. He is proactive. And he's 12. This is what we want, right! And my kids? They adore each other. Sure, they have sibling moments, but their relationship with each other is sweet. I would love to tell you about some of their most intimate moments, but that would not be fair to them, so I will spare them, but know that my children love each other, and I will never doubt that.
And then there are those silly little things previously mentioned that I am wanting to bang my head against the wall because I missed the cues. Oy.
I will not offer them sarcasm or snark because that is not mothering. I will encourage and maybe push a little. Or a lot. I will get those aghast looks that remind me of this miss-step on the parenting journey, and, should I be offered this parenting opportunity again, I shall do it better.
One can only hope.