That little boy of yours who fills notebook after notebook of drawings of Garfield and Sonic the Hedgehog and Batman? He’s not wasting time; he is becoming the man he was knit together to be. The little girl breaking your budget as she devours math booklet after booklet from 4 years old on? The one who is messy and stubborn and mispronounces words and is a poor speller? Yup – she is going to study in mathematics and bring all her love of graphs and charts and equations with her as she becomes the woman she is created to be. The little one always distracted in math class because she is dreaming of fairies and storylines? Mama, she is a writer and storyteller. One day she will find her captive audience.
That boy who is all wiggles – you know the one. Don’t worry, he will go on to obtain multiple degrees but you know where he will really shine? As a coach and referee to the teenagers that scare off other people. He will help build community in his own way. And that daughter, so dramatic, who feels deeply and worries that she is never enough – the one who likes order and struggles with anxiety and depression – she might just grow up and use all that struggle and emotion to love and encourage other women one day.
Why do we worry so much? Let your kids tell you who they are. Maybe we could spend less time trying to change them and trying to shore up their deficiencies and instead find them places to shine. Maybe we can tell them they are amazingly knit together and support them as they become who they were meant to be rather than worrying about “success” or what other people will think of them. Maybe our job is less to build our kids and more to provide safe, nurturing environments to come alongside and support them, challenge them, teach them to question and think for themselves, so they can ultimately have the courage to offer to the world the gifts that are already embroidered into the tapestry of their DNA.
I’m no parenting expert but I see that we all have a lot less control than we like to think anyway. So why not take more joy in this whole parenting journey and lay down worry for a while?
This was a post I wrote on Facebook this past week. Maybe you read it. But what you may not know is that it was about my family – my three kids, my husband and myself. Standing where I am now I have the gift of (partial) perspective: I can see how so many of the things we worry about, the behaviors or character traits that we perceive to be horrendous weaknesses, even, end up transforming into strength. Can you see this at work in your own life?
We did not change as we grew older, we just became more clearly ourselves. ~lynn Hall
Maybe where you stand today all you see is your own weakness, failure or struggle. Maybe you are in the thick of parenting and wonder if your child will ever succeed or mature or grow out of that habit that causes you so much concern.
Well let me assure you, kids grow out of nose picking. Even the really resistant ones actually do learn how to read. They learn to do their own laundry and eventually to cook and pay bills and somehow survive without their mamas.
We outgrow our struggles too, don’t we? We learn to lay down worry, little by little. We learn to let the little things go, to laugh a little easier, to offer grace more readily.
And as we learn to see weakness turn to strength in our little-ish people we can learn to see this in ourselves. It isn’t just our kids or our friends who need grace and space to become who they were knit together to be. We need it too. We are amazing artwork but we have not yet fully become – we are still in the process. Still, lives in progress.
So mama, don’t despair. Look back and notice how far you have progressed. See how much you have learned and grown and healed. And then remind yourself that there is more yet to come.
You are becoming more clearly yourself.
And if you feel like you’ve lost your way a bit, remember back to when you were a child. Who were you then? How did you spend your time? What did you pretend at or dream about? Spend some time reflecting and journaling. Let your old, smaller self-remind you who you are.
Ask a trusted friend or family member to write you a note outlining the strengths they see in you. The ways that you shine. There are times we need help remembering. I asked this of my dad before he died and will guard the letter he sent me like treasure. He saw in me what I was having a hard time seeing during that dark season.
Perhaps you already think you know where you shine but have been held back by fear of looking prideful, fear of failing or just plain old fear. But you were actually made to shine, you know. I’m not talking about doing something huge or drawing attention to yourself in a grand scale way. Unless that is, of course, what you are called to. Some of us are called to smaller lives but we are nonetheless called to shine.
There are gifts that have been embroidered into your soul – you are meant to use them. Stop worrying about deficiencies, real or imagined. Just offer the world your gift, big or small.
I invite you this week to lay down worry and become more clearly yourself.
You may enjoy these books by Joan Anderson: A Year by the Sea: Thoughts of an Unfinished Woman and The Second Journey (affiliate links).