My older daughter wore shorts today, and it's about 38º F outside. Last year, I would have been yelling at her and telling her she would not leave the house until all her skin was covered.
My younger daughter wore the blue dress to church for the 4th week in a row. I didn't complain as hard as I thought I would, even though she has several other dresses in her closet. Somehow, I don't seem to care as much if people at church think I don't buy her any clothes.
Oh, the many fights we had as the children grew. Some, like potty-training, we saw end with success. There was a right answer. (When you have to go, you go!) Others, like food, we are still struggling with. We have tried so many tricks in that area, good and bad. Our kids just don't eat certain foods. We have not won this battle. I'll get to that in a minute.
And then there are the "small" things.
I don't know if I'm too tired and have lost the will to fight anymore, or if I've grown up as a parent. Maybe, perhaps I've become a worse mom by giving in more now. Or maybe I'm just not the micro-manager I used to be.
There's a lot more truth to that first part, I think, than maybe some of the rest. I'm tired. Maybe I am learning which battles to pick because there are just so many more battles.
I have a pre-teen daughter who has been trying to act like teen since she turned 5. I feel like fighting has been a normal part of our life with her. Although I have always thought I have only chosen to fight for worthy causes, such as what she was eating, and what she was wearing, I think I am seeing a bigger picture now. Her choices are no longer a reflection of me. I can take myself out of the picture.
All 3 of my kids are picky eaters. Yes, I am blessed, aren't I? We tried every method under the sun to get them to eat a reasonable dinner.
Now, I've got bigger concerns at dinner. Life and death concerns. OK, maybe not quite that drastic, but serious medical complications are involved. If my diabetic daughter does NOT eat what I expected her to - what I treated her for with her insulin - she could have more medicine in her little body than it needs. That would cause a drop in her blood sugar, that could lead to a coma. It's rare, but definitely in the range of possibility.
So I save my energy for that. I want to be taken seriously when things are truly serious. I want the kids to know that if I say something is important, it really is. It's not about me, it's about them.
What's important to me now? Health & safety, courtesy, and obedience.
Health: I will fight for my kids' health. I might give up for one a meal in a day, but not all of them. Big picture here. No total junk food meals, of course, but over the course of a day, I want good food going in somewhere along the line. I'm winning with drinks. My kids drink water or milk. Period. We constantly explain "health" to the kids. No one is allow to complain about being "fat." It's healthy or unhealthy. We don't want to hear our kids complaining about fat when they are given every opportunity to be healthy.
Safety: No hurting each other. At all. No doing things that will make someone else cry. Period. If you can prevent someone from hurting, DO IT. There's too much else out there trying to hurt us, we don't need to add family members to the list.
Courtesy: Respect. It's the only thing we ask the kids to show others. You will never go wrong if you use the right words.
Obedience: This one sounds like it is about me, but it isn't. Children are put into families to learn how the world works. In the world, there is always an authority to which we must submit: a boss, a police officer, God. Parents are the first authority and the ones who will train submission to that authority. Bottom line is: If I say it, I will be heeded. Because I believe I only ask what is reasonable, the words "because I said so" are enough.
So basically, if you want to wear the blue dress for the 4th week in a row, and I didn't forbid it for some logical reason, as long as you aren't rude about it, there's no reason you can't.
That covers a lot, doesn't it? So what have I given up?
Cleaning. I have my standards, and yes, it is partly my house. But I am losing this battle. My house is a mess, in my neat-freak eyes. You can't even see the kitchen table for all the mail, pictures, games, gloves, and well, I'm not even sure what else is on there. I don't sit there anymore because I just can't look at it. So I give up. They will move out someday, and I will get the house back.
Showering. I want my children to be clean and to smell like a meadow, but maybe they don't like smelling like a meadow. Until it becomes a health issue, I'll just wait until peer pressure settles in to up the daily washings.
Homework time. Apparently, all of my children prefer to wait to do their homework. I always did mine immediately after school. So they aren't me. I check their grades on line, and know that it is all being turned in. They do know the risk, however, of cutting it too close, and not having someone available to help when they need it. That's how it goes.
Clothing. OK, I do have girls. I buy their clothes, so I don't have to worry too much about modesty at this point. When it becomes an issue, we'll step in with safety concerns. I have a boy too. He will wear the same shirt everyday. Whatever. I'll let his friends tell him when he starts to reek while I stand 3 feet away.
There are some others too. Don't sweat the small stuff.
When my oldest goes outside with shorts in cold weather, she might get cold. (She'll never admit it, though.) Because I know that colds are caused by viruses and not just cold weather, I used to tell myself the issue was frostbite. Chances of that happening were pretty slim too, but something just wasn't right about it. So I needed justify it. Today, I don't.
I'm glad to have put the "you need to wear a coat/no I don't" fight behind me now. As she goes into the teen years, I know there are going to be more serious dangers than I will need to fight. When any of my kids come to me with those teen problems, I want them to be scared if I'm scared, and relieved if I am relieved.
While out on a walk with the oldest the other night, I was shivering. She was happily walking around in shorts, tee shirt, and flip flops. I asked her if she noticed that I wasn't bugging her about wearing a coat. She smiled, patted my back, and said, "Yes, Mother, I'm very proud of you."
That was 2 weeks ago. No signs of pneumonia yet, so maybe we are going to survive a little longer than I expected.
And I will wash the blue dress every week so it is ready for one less fight on the next Sunday morning. The washing machine can take care of that for me while I measure carbs and calculate insulin. If something in the house starts to stink, maybe I'll just go find a cup of coffee to smell instead. I'm going to need that energy for the bigger fights.
Passion Under Grace,