Recently, while sitting around the table having lunch, I asked the boys to tell me their most vivid, early memories. Truth be known, I braced myself for these answers. You never know what kids will say. To my surprise, the things they shared were so different than what I thought they would say. One remembered a day when we had a picnic in the living room, pretending to be the Boxcar Children. We ate nuts and berries on a blanket on the floor. I remember feeling like a failure, wishing I could have made a pretend boxcar on the porch. Perspective.
Our youngest child remembered getting a donut with me every Thursday morning while his brothers were whisked off to our local homeschool co-op. He’d forgotten the fact that I often stopped there because we had rushed out of the house before I’d had a chance to actually feed him. Perspective.
They remembered gardening and being chased by chickens. One even remembered almost falling off a huge dirt pile on an ATV with his dad. I remember wishing I was better at driving the ATV, so they could giggle with me while the wind gently blew through their hair. Perspective. My point is that we don’t always remember things the way our children do. We can’t allow ourselves to get stuck wondering what we would or should have done differently. Here are three negative reflections I encourage you to avoid. Remember, it’s about perspective.
I should have been more patient.
Man, if I had a $1 for every time I said those words, I’d be rich. Patience is something that most of us have to work on daily. There’s a reason why they say it’s a virtue, right? The blessing is that children are naturally impatient themselves. They have to learn self-control, including times when they are angry. As they get older, they become more and more aware of the need to manage their emotions. Most children don’t remember your impatience, just the times when they were heard and were successful in getting what they requested.
I should have been more strict.
If any of you are having challenges with your older children, hear me clearly. You can not own your children’s mistakes. They have the power to make good choices, and the power to make bad choices. If you wish you had tightened up the reigns, then make adjustments now. It’s not too late! As parents, we are always growing. We learn from situations that arise and from the mistakes we and others make. It’s perfectly fine to adjust boundaries as you go based on your child’s maturity and willingness to obey. You are the parent. Be encouraged in that!
I should have been more available.
Everyone is busy, right? We all bustle about from day to day. As your children get older, their routines will be busy as well. Again, it’s not too late to make changes to your time together. You just have to be purposeful in your planning. Maybe time at the family dinner table every night is replaced twice a week with a mid-morning coffee date. Want to read a good book? Find one you both would enjoy and read it together. Our children naturally fit into whatever we enjoyed when they are little. If we like gardening, we teach our littles to garden. If we enjoy volunteering, we bring them along. As they get older, our focus must shift to meeting them where they are, within a blend of their interests and our interests.
We are still making memories in our home, but the pace has changed. Where I once felt like a juggler tossing balls in a familiar loop, I now feel as if I’m a quarterback, purposefully throwing the ball in carefully orchestrated plays. I have a link on my desktop to a sweet Mother’s Day video message that Elevation Church created several years ago. It’s called A New Perspective For Moms and it makes me cry every single time. When I doubt or wonder if I could have done something better, I find comfort in knowing that my kids love me just the way I am. No looking back!