Be Careful Little Eyes What You See

I was sitting on a living room chair, quickly texting a picture of my son’s latest artwork to a friend…  Earlier in the week, Brady had let himself into my piano closet (which is child-proofed, but the little guy has a degree in locking picks apparently).  Once inside, he had found a permanent black marker and decided to practice doodling on my beautiful chair.  I had been sitting just feet away, but – caught up in trying to jot down items onto my grocery list – I didn’t look up until one minute too late.  And although I’m quite proud of how well he accidentally drew the letter ‘P’, I had to swallow my initial reaction and to calmly explain to Brady that we don’t draw on furniture.

Or the wall.  Or on Kaitlyn.

We don’t draw on anything unless it’s paper provided by Mommy and Daddy.

I had literally just sat down, took a quick picture of the chair with my phone, sent it to my friend, and added a brief text, when I glanced up to see Brady walking into the room looking like this.

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After applying nail polish earlier in the day, I had set the jar onto the kitchen island; because a family member had stopped by really quick.    It was quickly forgotten in the daily events that followed.  But my son later found it, successfully reached for it, opened it, and applied a generous coat of said polish to each of his fingernails.

(I have come to the realization that Brady follows me around every moment of the day, waiting for me to slip up and to leave something out that should be immediately put back in its place.  I assure you that our house is baby and toddler proofed.  It is, however, never going to be Brady proofed.  I am not capable of that kind of proofing.  It is beyond my mental capability and physical energy levels).

Anyway, with my son standing in front of me displaying his manicure, I sat there in complete shock and silence.  Brady, his face beaming from ear to ear, proceeded to lightly shake his hands and to say, “Now we let them dry.”

I realized, slightly in awe, that I was looking at a mirror image of myself after I’ve painted my nails… I mean, at the age of three, he’s almost as good at applying nail polish as I am too.  (It’s sad but true).  And he had that gentle shake of the hand down and even that thing I apparently say every time…  “Now we let them dry.”

He was mimicking my every move and looking to me for approval.  He had copied his mamma, and now he was waiting for me to say, “Good job!”   Just like he had tried to write down his own little scribbles while watching me create a grocery list.

Just as he shouts out, “Hi, Daddy!” if I first exclaim,, “Yay, Daddy’s home!”

Or just as he eagerly climbs onto a chair to help with dishes, when I chat about how much fun we’ll have doing it together.  But acts disgruntled about spilled juice if I react too sharply to a careless accident on the rug.

Even just as he sits at the piano and tries to sing “Jesus Loves Me” after I’ve practiced for a Sunday’s worship song.

He mimics.  Copies.  Watches, learns, and then incorporates it into his own young life.

It brought to mind a Bible verse from Deuteronomy (6:5 – 7) – “ Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.”

Our children are watching.  And as parents, we know that; because it all sounds so obvious.  But I think too often we forget just how much of an impression our actions and words are having on our kids.

Our children are listening to our every word…  To the tone with which we speak them.  They’re watching the way we get through our days, soaking in our attitudes and our body language.

Our lives are living testimonies and ‘speaking’ even louder than those words we’re saying.  We say “help others”, but are we joyfully giving of our time.  We say “turn the other cheek”; but do our casual, ‘when-no-one-is-listening’ words speak of grudges.  We say “love God with all your heart,” but is time spent in God’s word, worship, and church a priority for us?  Do our children see us kneeling in prayer and meditating on the Bible?  We say “love others”, but do we love when it’s not comfortable or safe?  We say “God made everyone special and unique,” but do we look in the mirror and criticize the person looking back at us?

Impress them (God’s commandments) on their hearts.

Our children are watching…  Are we showing them what they need to be seeing?

A little boy who drew on my chair and painted his nails reminded me this week that eyes are watching me.  And more than anything, I want to impress God’s love and living word into his life!  Not only by speaking God’s truth, but also in the way I conduct myself every day.



When Being Mommy Hurts

There’s no easy way to explain the fierce love that a woman experiences when she becomes a mom.  I was trying to explain it to Nate the other day, and he kind of just looked at me with a slightly confused (or maybe concerned) look on his face.  It just doesn’t make sense when you’re trying to explain it.  But to a mom, it’s reality.  And quite frankly, to every mom reading this, I needn’t go on.  They know what I’m talking about already.

They just get it.

I guess if I were absolutely required to express these emotions and feelings with the help of words, I would say this:  when I became a mom, it was as though a small, treasured piece of me left my body.  And that piece of my heart began to beat on its own, protected only by a beautiful, tiny person that it now lived in.

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This happened the moment I set eyes on my baby boy.  Suddenly, my own self came second.  My whole world (my whole need to protect, and nurture, and care) began to revolve around someone else.  But it didn’t feel like self-sacrifice.

Because that little someone else was a piece of me.

When Brady was in my womb, I constantly prayed over him, worrying about every little thing that could go wrong, and dreamed about the day that he was born.  Then, and only then, would I stop worrying; because then I would physically be able to hold my perfect baby boy in my arms.  Then I could physically protect him with my super-human, mommy strength  and always know that he was okay.  Because I would make sure that he was okay.

But once he was born, I quickly realized that my womb had been a safer place than this world we call home could ever be.  At least then I could carry him in perfect warmth and protection.  At least there, no hurtful words or angry bullies or harmful environments could touch him.  He was safe inside his mommy, soothed to sleep by the sound of my voice and rocking of my movements.

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But suddenly, he was living in this often hurtful, cruel world.  Suddenly, that small piece of me was detached and wasn’t always with me.  Suddenly, I was forced to sometimes leave that piece of my heart with someone else and to trust that he was being cared for the way that I would care for him.

It’s terrifying.  Absolutely terrifying.

My little guy is only two, but there have already been moments that have made me want to whisk him away to a safe place where nothing hurtful can ever touch him.  Kids have already been mean…  He has already faced challenges that made me want to swoop in and solve a problem that he needs to solve himself.  He has learned that sometimes life hurts.

But he is still so sweet and innocent.  Still such a baby.

As he grows, I will have to learn to slowly let go.  To trust that I raised him to be confident, even when the bullies taunt.  To know that God will continue to guide him, even when he isn’t snuggled in my arms for a Bible story.  I will have to be strong enough to let him take flight on his own, knowing that I taught him right from wrong.

As a mom, I look back on my own life with a new sense of respect for everything my parents faced, from letting me cry when my first job overwhelmed me to letting me travel thousands of miles away from home for college.  They knew that fire makes gold burn only brighter.  They knew that those hard moments were only molding me into a stronger, bolder, more confident woman.  They knew that quitting wasn’t an option, and so they guided me and stood with me.  But they didn’t hide me.

They held my hand and let me step out, so that I could learn to shine.

I’ve already come to realize that being mommy is going to hurt sometimes.  Because that little someone who holds a piece of me will hurt sometimes.  And every fiber of my being will scream out to protect and shelter.  But sometimes I’ll have to let go of my baby’s hand, even if it may result in cuts and bruises.  Sometimes I’ll have to trust him to someone else’s care, so that he can learn independence.  I’ll have to watch him attempt challenges that test his endurance, patience, and will.  And sometimes, I’ll have to watch him take a leap, even if he may fall.

Because he may also be ready to fly.

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He’s only two, but I already know just how hard it will be for me to ever see my little guy struggle or hurt.  But at the same time, I also know that the hard moments only strengthen us and prepare us to be strong.  To be confident.  To be leaders.

Sometimes, it’s the tough moments that propel us to greatness and to a more meaningful life than we could have imagined.

One thing I know for sure is this…  As fiercely as I love my baby boy, there is One who loves him even more.  And so I can only raise him the best I can and then trust him into the arms of the Savior who can – and will – always be with him.

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