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Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Never, Never, Never Give Up

These are interesting years now that my children are teens. For a long time I was able to run my home the way I wanted. I made a daily effort to teach my kids things that are important to me. We did lots of stuff together--the zoo, the park, field trips all over, playgroups. Dinner times might be crazy, but at least we were all together. I could teach manners even if they didn't use them! When a fight or argument got out of hand there was always the good old "time out."

Doesn't an A and F average out to C?
Being a mom is the best job in the world but also the hardest, because for each kid you have a different job description...and by the way, those descriptions change more than once a year. I'm in a constant state of flux. Am I doing everything right or wrong? Some days I feel like I earned an A and an F at the same time on my mommy report card.

These are the years when they don't want the lessons on manners--or any other boring lectures. When hanging out with friends is 10 to 1 preferable over a family activity. When they get big enough to start making Big Decisions that can have lifelong effects. When you hope they have internalized some self-regulating techniques, because there is no time out.

Choices become larger as kids grow, and success and failure are the only two sides of the coin. Nature gives a mother the fierce instinct to protect her children, including protecting them from making mistakes. But what drives the child is the desire for autonomy and independence.

Protecting my kids from their choices is the worst possible idea. And yet it is the only way to enable them to learn and hopefully grow up to be happy, productive members of society. My mom said that if you are a good parent, you work yourself out of a job by the time your child is 18. It's kind of sad but true.

What happens if a child or someone else we love is on a trajectory we fear will bring unhappiness? What do we do if they keep going down that path and don't look back? I look to older friends--how can I learn from their wisdom?

One thing I am learning oh-so-slowly is the way that love endures all things. Mothering those sweet little babies was hard work, but it was worth when their little faces lit up when they saw me. Love is tougher when you have to work harder for it, but it's also more rewarding. There's a power that comes from loving someone no matter what--through the good and the bad. Not just saying you'll love them, but doing it even when it's the hardest thing you've ever done. It's transcendent. I feel like I'm learning about love on a whole new, higher plane.

Jesus Christ said: "Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me."

He doesn't say, "I'll knock on the door for a while, but when I'm really tired of waiting for you, I'll leave."

He stands outside all of our doors with infinite patience. He is always waiting. He will always knock, even when we push Him away or are ashamed--or even when we don't think of Him at all. Even though we can't see Him, He is loving us through the door.

And so I learn pure love from Him who is all charity. If those I love walk down a path I fear will bring unhappiness--and even shut the door--I just send all the love I can after them.

I stand. I wait. I am patient. And just like Jesus never leaves us--I never, never, never give up.

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