“Let It Go” is not the end of the story

Frozen was not what I expected.  I loved it, yet it depressed me.  From the beginning of the film I felt an incredible empathy with Elsa and her struggles.  During “Let It Go” I hid my face behind my daughter and wept where no one could see, but I wanted to lift my arms and shed my cape and belt out each word along with Elsa. The frozen wasteland, the rising storm and the fierce joy she found in her isolation all echoed her soul’s cry in a poignant way as she rejected her wounded relationships and embraced her talent at last.

The rest of the movie passed in a blur, and the conclusion found me restless and dissatisfied.   Not because it was a bad ending; I loved the ending. But the ending had happened for Elsa, not me.  I still felt as if my heart was up in my ice castle brewing a storm that could harm everyone I cared about.  I was still shouting “Let It Go!” while Elsa was back to singing happy songs and utilizing her talent to benefit her loved ones.

Others may relate to Anna, or Olaf, or even Sven. For me, Frozen was all about Elsa, a woman learning to cope with a talent that seemed to have little value to those she loved.  Let it Go was the cry of her soul, but it was not the solution to her problem.

Elsa is in that lonely position of being talented in a direction that seems at best useless and at worst damaging to others. When she denied her talent it resulted in isolation, in loss of self and an inability to function in basic ways.  When she embraced her gift and rejected those who did not understand, it still resulted in isolation and her gift began to consume her.   Neither path brought happiness or fulfillment.

As the creative mother of young children, both feelings are ones I know well.  My abilities, from writing to crafting to identifying woodland plants, are not abilities that lend themselves to the daily practicality of life.  For many years I have vacillated between ignoring my creative talent as I strive to achieve order in my home and recklessly creating at the expense of those dependent upon me.  I might not pick up a book for months, because books make me need to write. Then  I suddenly find myself reading and writing while meals are skipped and clothes pile up.

 As spring comes on I feel once more the overwhelming urge to read and write, to run through the woods and explore the lake and crochet tiny bits of elegant lace that will never be used in my messy home, and to stop caring about the state of my house.  Frozen was a timely movie that reminded me there is a balance between denying talent and denying responsibility.

Elsa and I are not the first folks to be caught in the age-old struggle of deciding how to control our talents without rejecting them.  Jesus taught a parable on this subject in Matthew 25.

The thing about talent is that if we hide it away, we don’t know what to do with ourselves.  But if we let it run rampant, others don’t know what to do with us. This doesn’t just apply to creative folks, either.  It applies to gifted children, to efficient people, to empathetic listeners and introverts and extroverts and cooks and hunters and pretty much any area anyone is extraordinarily talented in.

Eventually Elsa’s family did appreciate her gift, but only once she could control it.  Our gifts can (and do) cause pain to others unless we bridle them.  It was not her grand palace of ice that endured but rather her rough little snowman; hardly a masterpiece but born from both her talent and her love.

If you are one of those folks who is so sick of hearing Let It Go that you are inspired to create hilarious songs like this one, it would be wise to ask yourself why your loved ones enjoy this song.  Is it merely because of the catchy tune, or is it because they feel the echo of the words and understand the wild joy that comes from finally using a long-suppressed gift? Do they have a talent they have set aside in order to love you?

If you are one who relates deeply to Elsa and longs to “Let It Go” right along with her, remember that this song, this feeling, this wild release of talent that only benefits self, was not the answer.

To control a gift while embracing it, to find productive outlets for creativity, is what Elsa represents.  She represents hope for those talents we have locked away down inside because those we love see no use for them.

America the Beautiful

While choosing memory work for the children, My Man discovered that the version of America the Beautiful which we know was not the original poem.

The first four lines of each verse are much the same today as in the original, but the ends of each verse have been significantly altered. For instance,

Verse 3, popular version

America! America!
May God thy gold refine;
Till all success be nobleness
And every gain divine!

Verse 3, 1893 version

America! America!
God shed His grace on thee
Till selfish gain no longer stain,
The banner of the free!

We’ve decided to memorize the 1893 version, as we think the ideals it portrays are better.  You can see the full text of both version at the Wikipedia page.

In the Cool of the Day

Genesis 3:8

And they heard the voice of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God amongst the trees of the garden.

One of the sweetest things about creation is the way nature can connect what our eyes see to what our soul feels, and then our mind understands.  Such a moment occurred for me on our nature hike this past week.

There is a deep ravine that runs in a semicircle away from the pipe under the road: a long curve of clay and sand that stretches far overhead.  To the left there is sun-burnt vines and tangled weeds and harsh gravel that stretches out to meet the road.  I step down, half sliding and half tumbling to reach the sand below.  Suddenly the steep wall shrouds me in shadow and the day is cool and still.  I hear the faint voices of the children as they dash through the storm pipe and search for crawdads. I know that they are just around the bend a few yards away, but tucked into this sheltered nook I can barely hear their voices.

The Quiet place, beyond which the children frolic merrily.

The Quiet place, beyond which the children frolic merrily.

The wall reaches far overhead, dwarfing me beneath it. I feel an unfamiliar peace stealing over me, a restful coolness that starts in my soul and migrates outwards.  It has been so long since I felt this. His presence has been far from me for many months, my faith shaken to the core and my own actions often less than admirable.  I have studied the Bible but avoided prayer, not knowing how to approach Him in my current state of doubt.  I have been hiding from Him, and since I would not come to Him He has come to me. Here in the shadow of my great sand wall I am forced to face Him and admit to what I am: a fallen human who needs His help.  I feel the touch of His presence and weep.  How I have missed this, the feel of Him close by!  A child screeches in the distance.  I am unsure if it is with terror or delight, so I continue on around the bend to join in their play, knowing I will return for a picture so I can remember this moment.

This is the essence of Nature Study: being unable to escape the reality of God.

Eehhmm.  Emotional moment over.  Rosie is deeply fascinated by the various types of moss, and in the process of photographing her finds I discovered that my 4-year-old camera possesses a setting for “Taking close-up photos in bright light.”  Who knew?  So I played around with that a little.

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Things are happening in the woods.  New growth is stretching from the soil and reaching towards the sky, grass is blooming and dogwoods are preparing to burst forth in all their glory.  It makes me wonder about miracles.  Is a miracle big or is it small? Is it out of the ordinary or everyday?  Can it be both?  Can a miracle be explained?  If it is explained, is it still a miracle?

Growing Things

Last but not least, the rocks that face west have developed this tough green growth during the winter.  Further investigation is called for.

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I love our rocky hillsides.  I wouldn’t ever trade them for pasture land.  Thankfully, the goats don’t mind.  :)

Ask Mr. Bear

Zorro has been very slow about learning to read.  Part of this is because his brain hasn’t fully clicked into reading mode yet, and part of it is because he doesn’t want to exercise the self-discipline required to sit down and pay attention to one thing.  I want him to acquire the discipline without pushing him beyond his ability, so he is required to read out of an “easy reader” book for a 5 minutes each day.   He also possesses a rapid memory that allows him to memorize these books with rapidity, so I am always excited about a new book I can add to our rotation.

Alas, quality Easy Readers are very hard to find.  Most of the ones at our local library are mind-numbingly dull, tell pointless stories that end in a spoiled child finally being given the object of his desire, and often feature popular TV icons that possess no fascination off screen. Where are the stories with simple words and rich thoughts?

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I found such a book in Ask Mr. Bear. Ask Mr. Bear is written by the great Marjorie Flack, who wrote the Story About Ping and the Angus books.

Though the words are simple and repetitive, the tale is a worthy one. A young boy is searching for a gift for his mother, and visits the various animals in the barnyard on his way.  What manners he has!  No rudeness from young Danny.  As each animal suggests something that his mother already has, Danny always remembers to say “Thank you!” before explaining why his search must continue.  As for the animals, they are not in the least bit miffed that their offerings are rejected, but rather they all band together to help Danny solve his dilemma.

The solution they discover is one that requires little Danny to leave the safety of the farmyard and go on a journey, leaving his friends behind.  Danny gladly makes the trip, still wholly focused on giving his mother a special gift.  In a talented display of artistic talent, Marjorie Flack uses a few short pages to pull us out of the sun drenched fields and into the dark woods along with the pint-sized hero.

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The change from warm fields to mossy woods is a masterful use of color and shadow.

In the end, Danny’s search pays off and he finds the perfect gift.  Thanks to Marjorie Flack’s story-telling ability, I am left with an early reader that fascinates and motivates without overwhelming.  This book is a gem.

A Vision for a Home

I’m not sure when this thought, that I needed to have a vision for my home, first started to blossom in my mind.  Perhaps in a way I always knew it.  But several months ago I was feeling crushed under the weight of it all.  Never very industrious, I found myself working from dawn until dusk and collapsing into bed exhausted each night.  Yet nothing was changing.  Not only that, the state of things in and around my home seemed to be steadily deteriorating in spite of my best efforts. I needed a vision.

It has taken a bit of time to find my sense of direction.  After all, I was trying to change the way I thought.  It wasn’t enough to build new habits, I had to build a new attitude and I wasn’t sure where to start.  Some women told me to remember that loving my children was more important than cleaning.  Yet I had to admit that our home was getting in the way of loving my children, not the other way around.  If I wanted to care for them adequately I had to do better, not let things slide.  Reading organizational blogs did no good.  Any time I tried to organize the house would be in chaos for weeks before I got us back on track.  I am terrified of having visitors, yet reluctant to leave the house because I have so much that needs done.  I hated my home and yet I could not leave it.

My study of Charlotte Mason and her educational philosophy was the first place I began to realize I could keep house without crushing my soul.  Caring for my home should not define me, but  it needed done before I would be free to pursue other interests.

I began to realize I had been going about it all wrong.  Charlotte Mason tells us “Education is an Atmosphere, a Discipline, a Life.”  I was trying so frantically to create a home life that was worth living that I was ignoring the atmosphere and the discipline.  I needed to back down and start over.

Atmosphere.  This would be my starting point.

So I struggled on, trying to cope with pregnancy and summer and homeschooling.  But now I had hope.  I quit fooling myself that things would change in a few weeks, and I came to grips with the idea of achieving goals in a few years.  Because the only thing that happens quickly around small children is chaos, not order.

I began to consciously think about what I really, really wished was different and what didn’t bother me, and I made a few surprising discoveries.

Andrea Dekker reminded me that everyone’s priorities were going to be different, and I needed to discover what mattered to my family.  I have envied her home from time to time, but reading through her list made me realize that all the things that mattered to me did not matter to her.  Therefore, my home would never, ever be like hers.  I realized I was completely okay with that.

I discovered I wanted books and words everywhere.  I wanted time, space and inspiration so I could take a bit of my soul and mix it with the work of my hands and produce something both beautiful and practical.  I wanted animals, both pets and livestock.  I wanted to tend to them well, to reap the fruit of my labors in milk and eggs and companionship.  I wanted to garden, to have flowers around the yard and herbs in pots and giant tomato plants in the vegetable garden. I wanted to serve real food at organized meal times, to harvest the herbs from my woods and use them to treat my family.   These things MATTER to me.  Time to explore the woods, to watch the birds, to pick wildflowers and harvest berries and gather acorns.  Time to read, to soak, to think.  Clean surfaces: tables, floors, countertops, beds.  No piles of laundry.

In the evenings I would look at the pile of laundry on the couch, the children playing rowdily on the kitchen floor and occasionally jumping off their beds, and My Man on the computer as I cooked a late dinner. The children would be herded and scolded through their showers as I cleaned up from dinner, and those children who weren’t showering would be aimlessly wondering about the house pestering each other.  Far too late, with tempers frayed and everyone worked up, the children would be laid down and I would either try to finish cleaning up from dinner or I would collapse hopelessly on the pile of toys and blankets and dirt that was my living room floor and watch TV and pretend I didn’t care.  I hated every minute of our evening routine: why should I assume it was any better for anyone else?  I wanted dinner ready when My Man came home, I wanted places to sit in the evenings, I wanted everyone to pitch in and clean up from dinner, and then I wanted to read aloud, to talk, to sing and build and sew quietly, all together as a family.  We needed a time of peace before bed, and I had no idea how to achieve it.

What doesn’t matter?  A well-decorated home. Lots of clothing choices.  Eating out.  Landscaping.  (Big difference in gardening and landscaping.)  Keeping up with my favorite TV shows.  Coordinated furniture.  Crayon-free walls.  Sheets that match.

The ceiling in our LR that is nothing more than drywall 3 years after it was put in?  Nope, doesn’t bother me at all.  The crayon marks all over the wall of the kid’s room?  Not worth painting over.   What did bother me was books out of place, projects on my sewing table that I never sat down and sewed on, or the clutter that spread from so many surfaces in our tiny home, constantly shifted from place to place.

One day I ran across Auntie Leila’s great question:  Do you know what’s for dinner?  Is your laundry under control?

Um, No.

Finally, I had my place to start.

I have a long ways to go before I achieve my goal of clean surfaces.  But it feels good to realize what it is I’m attempting to accomplish, and to have a definite plan of attack.  Story time is happening daily.  The majority of evenings are peaceful.  The big yard sale we’re having next week should help with the surface clutter.  Time marches on.

Embracing Opportunities

…….For I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.

I know both how to be abased, and how to abound; every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.

Philippians 4: 11-12

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I have never thought of myself as a discontented person by nature, but in my headlong rush to raise super-kids I began to focus on all the things I wasn’t able to do with them.  The museums I didn’t take them to, the educational activities I never did, the handmade toys I never made them, the workbook pages we never filled out, the dollhouse I never built, the trips we didn’t take.  My question each morning had become “How can I fit in more?”

 

A visit from a fellow AO mom  shook me out of my discontented focus.  I had listened with envy as she described their current life, in which extensive traveling and lots of museums featured prominently.  But as we watched our children examining  a mud-turtle in an aquarium stuffed under a tree, she made a brief comment about how I never needed to worry about fitting Nature Study into my day.  With that single innocuous comment she triggered a shift in my focus, and I am learning to embrace the opportunities our life presents rather than fret about the opportunities I don’t have.

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There’s a lot of things my children won’t do that I thought should be part of any childhood.

  • Visit art museums
  • Go shopping at actual stores (It’s all Walmart and Amazon here….)
  • Know what a dump truck is
  • Walk through Longwood Gardens
  • Watch The Scarlet Pimpernel with their aunts
  • Identify various types of cars, trucks and random machinery
  • Visit historic battlefields
  • Living History events
  • Picnics at Valley Forge Park
  • Bike Rides at Hagley Museum
  • Get excited about taking the “back roads”
  • Walk to the post office
  • Earn money by shoveling driveways and mowing lawns for the neighbors
  • Attend local concerts in the summer

 

But while it’s wise to be aware of these gaps in their life experience, it’s also wise to be aware of all the things they can do in spite of little effort on my part.

  • Watch animals give birth
  • See wild birds building nests
  • Identify every type of turtle found in our locale
  • Have a clear view of ever so many stars at night
  • Walk around the pond and tell what animals have been visiting
  • Spend lengthy amounts of time alone in the woods
  • Identify different types of plants, their edibility and medicinal uses
  • Acquire vast bug collections
  • Understand which bugs are beneficial and which are harmful
  • Track gopher trails through th woods
  • Run as far as they can, shout as loud as they like
  • Witness eggs hatching
  • Sleep in the tree house
  • Stuff themselves on garden veggies whenever lunch is late
  • Explore the world of nature to their hearts content

 

What unique learning opportunities does your life offer?  Have you learned to embrace them yet?

 

Introducing Life

Picture books.  The alphabet.  Mud.  Snuggles.  Sticky hands.  Reading aloud.  Crayon-covered walls.  The early years. The learning years.

This post was supposed to contain a detailed analysis of why I don’t “do preschool,” the great importance of play, and why I now avoid academic activities for my youngsters.  But today Zorro piled sand in the basket of clean laundry.  We washed, filled and hung all our bird feeders. Pumpkin had several wakeful hours.  Rosie danced and twirled and fell repeatedly instead of walking placidly about.  Boo shed three different outfits as she followed her brother and sister around the yard, returning for new clothing when she became chilled.  No one wanted to vacuum.  Now it is late at night and I want to get to bed.  *snore*

Once upon a time, I planned to use the “formative” years of my children to give them a strong foundation.  I planned games and researched educational toys.  I carefully taught them their letters and arranged sensory play activities.   I spent quite a bit of time trying to teach them to write their letters in cornmeal, and then cleaning up the ensuing mess.  Then I sent them off to their room to play while I cleaned and cooked and washed, because we were a little tired of each other’s company after our activity filled mornings.

Then Ambleside Online introduced me to Charlotte Mason, and I became convinced that all my well meant activities were not only unnecessary, they were far from ideal.  Charlotte Mason told me that

“Parents and Teachers must sow Opportunities.––The educational error of our day is that we believe too much in mediators. Now, Nature is her own mediator, undertakes, herself, to find work for eyes and ears, taste and touch; she will prick the brain with problems and the heart with feelings; and the part of the mother or teacher in the early years (indeed, all through life) is to sow opportunities, and then to keep in the background, ready with a guiding or restraining hand only when these are badly wanted. Mothers shirk their work and put it, as they would say, into better hands than their own, because they do not recognize that wise letting alone is the chief thing asked of them, seeing that every mother has in Nature an all-sufficient handmaid, who arranges for due work and due rest of mind, muscles, and senses.” Volume 1, page 193

Slowly, I began to see that the best use of the first 6 years of a child’s life was not to rush them through a series of planned activities, but to walk beside them as they discovered life.  My job was to make the introduction, not have the conversation for them.   But once I had decided that this “wise letting alone” was the path I wished to pursue, I wasn’t quite sure how to go about it. How does one let go when you have Pinterest of all the carefully laid plans?

I’m still not sure what I’m doing, but I have a better idea now than I did 2 years ago, and I’m starting to hear the voices of other mothers who long for a little guidance, a picture of what this unfamiliar life could look like.  Here is a glimpse of what it looks like for us, in all its ever changing glory.  I hope you glean many ideas for how to implement a “wise letting alone” in your own home.

This series will ramble all over, much like children exploring the world.  Small pictures of our life.  Lots of picture book reviews.  How I am introducing our little ones to God.  Critters of all kinds.  Music.  Storytelling.  Car rides.  Life.

 

Homeschool Library Organization: Part 1

Within the innocuous shed that borders our patio, a storm awaits.  This shed houses my beloved book collection and our craft supplies, and it is sadly out of order.  This is what I’m up against.  Yes, I know it’s gotten awful.  I cry when I see books treated like this as well.

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West side, facing the patio

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East side, Facing the garden

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East side, facing the patio

It needs painted.  It needs more light.  Most of all, it needs organized in a way that I remember and use.  *gulp*  All of this needs done without neglecting school.  Or chores.  Or sick children, or healthy meals.  Therefore, it must be done in tiny increments of time.

It’s not all awful.  Some shelves look neat and organized.  (Mostly the shelves the children can’t reach)
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But by and large, this place needs work!  A few plans:

Rather than alphabetizing, books will now be divided up by Reading level and Ambleside Online years.   I’m sure there will also be a million miscellaneous shelves, but I haven’t gotten that far yet.  :)

The dresser needs moved out and a reading nook created in it’s place so my older children have a quiet place to read without the little ones trying to steal their books and turn pages for them.  Thank goodness for Pinterest!

Some of these books need to go.  Since I began reading  Charlotte Mason’s works my taste in suitable books has altered drastically, and I’m finding that some of these are no longer the type of book I want to fill my shelves with.  SO some of these dear friends will be moving on to make way for better books.  *sniff*  I’ll probably cry a lot with that part, and every now and then I’ll even post about this painful decision making progress.

Wish me luck: I’m going to need it!

Searching for Joel Salatin

Dry heat is sucking the moisture from the land.  Wind is pushing the dust relentlessly onward.  Our veggies are struggling to survive each searing afternoon. Goats and chickens alike are panting in the shade and drinking gallons of water daily.   Our children voluntarily remain indoors and seem pleased to have schoolwork to occupy their time.  My Man is often on the verge of heatstroke as he expands our poultry facilities and prepares our fall garden.  StrongHaven endures.

In the midst of our struggle for survival, there is time for relaxation.  A book written by Joel Salatin has been on my “must-read” list for quite some time, but getting to the library proved challenging.  When we finally did stop by the library  I forgot to look.  :(  Thankfully, library books need returned.

Our next trip by the library occurred on a searing afternoon, and the library was not our destination.  With three children and a husband waiting in the hot car, I knew this library trip had to be rapid.

Rushing through the library doors, I set down a large stack of children’s books and smile at the Library Lady.  “Is there any chance you have Joel Salatin’s book here?”

She frowns, adjusts her glasses and scoots closer to the computer screen.  She quickly realizes she doesn’t know how to search for a book and calls her co-worker over.  Together they type S-A-L-A-T-I-N into the computer.  The clock is ticking.  I squirm.

“Well, I’m not really sure….” she says.  “Let’s try a title search.”  She looks up at me, obviously waiting for the title.

I am in a hurry.  I am not thinking.  I blurt out the title.  “Everything I Want To Do Is Illegal.”

Time freezes.  Formerly helpful faces are suddenly distrustful and suspicious.  One Library Lady backs up slightly, distancing herself from the politically-incorrect entity that has appeared within the sacred confines of the air-conditioned walls.

The second Library Lady steels herself, pursing her lips with disapproval as she prepares to deal with the situation.  “I don’t think we’d have a book like that,” she says.

I smile, trying to reassure them that they are safe in my presence.  “It’s a book about farming,” I say helpfully.

Standing as far away as possible, she hits a few more keys.  “We don’t have it.”

I thank her and turn to leave.  She folds her arms, and the younger lady goes to stand by the telephone.  Both of them watch me.  I sigh.  Drat.  Now I have to find the book somewhere else.

In the hot car, My Man laughs.  He wishes he had seen their faces.  I smile as well, but I feel a little sad.  I remember the distrust and fear and I wonder how neighbors reacted when SWAT teams showed up at the homes of heirloom pig farmers or raw-milk dairy farmers.  Did they realize who the real bad guys were?

You Are Worth It: a letter to my Children.

It begins with a perfect evening.

Dinner is over.  The kids are asleep.  It is 8:00 PM.  I can not remember the last time we had a quiet house at 8 PM. So I go to bed.

An hour later, Rosie wakes up.  In Rosie fashion, she is wailing loudly and has no explanation.  I soothe her and return to my own bed.  20 minutes later she starts up again.  It is dark now and she is certain she hears a snake under her bed.  I assure her that there are no snakes.

After I leave, Zorro reminds her that she has nothing to worry about.  After all, HE is the one who has been stung by a scorpion in his bed, not her.  Though this incident occurred months ago, it inspires a fresh round of terror. By the time all the calming is done for the night it is nearly midnight.

Zorro and his dog wake me up early.  I decide that since I’m up it is the perfect morning to take a nature hike to the pond.  Zorro is excited.

Zorro is fed.  Boo-Boo is fed.  2 radios are blaring.  Rosie is still sleeping.

Zorro’s chores are done.  My chores are done.  Boo-Boo is looking ready for her morning nap.  Rosie is still sleeping.

Zorro is feeling betrayed now: he does not believe we are actually going to the pond today.  Rosie awakens. Give her breakfast.  Help her do chores.  Boo-Boo is tired: lay her down for a nap.  Time for Bible Study.

Bible study is done.  Zorro is waiting on the porch.  I realize Rosie is missing essential items of clothing.

“5 minutes.”  I tell Zorro.  ”I just have to get your sister dressed.”

Rosie can’t find the hairbrush: I discover it sitting beside her.  Fix hair.  Apparently, fixing her hair makes her tired. She can not hold her head up as I brush.  Brushing takes a while.  Find a skirt.  Two are torn.  One doesn’t fit.  Find matching shoes.  Not those, they hurt the cut on her foot.  Not those, they don’t fit anymore.

I look at the clock and realize 30 minutes have gone by.  I think of Zorro waiting patiently on the porch, just as he has waited patiently all morning. Words start pouring out of me.

“I should just leave you at the house.  I should just take Zorro and go.”  She looks at me attentively.    ”30 minutes.  30 minutes I have spent helping you get ready for the day. You are……”

I pause in my tirade, frozen with horror.  The words “Not worth it” are echoing inside my head, shattering my soul with the reality of what I had almost told my daughter.   “You are not worth it.”

“Yes Mommy?”  She says questioningly, unsure if I am done with the lecture or not.

I refocus.  “You are not putting much effort into getting dressed,” I say with outward calm.  “We do need to hurry for Zorro’s sake.  He’s been waiting a while.”

As I follow the children to the pond, I  think about what almost happened.  What I almost said.  I want to weep, but the children are with me and I do not want to dampen their joy.  “You are not worth it.”

I wouldn’t have meant it.  What I had planned to say was “It’s not worth it.”  A wail of self-pity in protest to the amount of time helping her get dressed had taken out of my morning.  But phrasing it differently would not have helped.   I have been shown an ugly truth: that I resent how much of “my” time she has taken away from “me.”  In that moment, I realize once again how selfish I can be.

I serve an amazing God.  One who can wake me up to selfish thoughts, forgive me,  and cleanse me.   In a world that is constantly saying I need self-fulfillment,  I serve a God who asks me to be selfless.  I do not have children so that I can feel better about myself.  I have children because God entrusted them to my care, just as he entrusts me each day with more time.  But neither my time nor my children are wholly my own.  I have given all to my King.

To My Children

You are worth it.

You are worth listening to.

You are worth every late night.

You are worth every missed meal and every pregnancy pang.

You are worth every moment of staying home.

You are worth every frustration I go through as I teach you.

You are worth every hour I can’t spend doing the things I planned to do.

You are worth cleaning up after.

You are worth teaching to clean up after yourself.

You are worth the time it takes to fold your laundry.

You are  worth the time it takes me to teach you to fold your laundry.

You are worth leaving the computer to see the dragonfly you captured.

You are worth holding while you cry because you realize the dragonfly has died.

You are worth living for.

You are worth dying for.  In fact, someone did die for you.  His name was Jesus.  But you already know this, because you are worth teaching.  You are my children, and I am glad.