Thursday, February 21, 2013

The Secret

photo from cnn,com
"What day is it today?" asked my 4-yr-old daughter as soon as she got out of bed.  "Is it Sunday? Saturday? Thursday?"  She found out it was Friday and leaped for joy as she ran down the stairs to excitedly tell her daddy that it was Friday, the day they were going to do "the secret."

Earlier in the week during prayer, this little girl had excitedly told me that she and Daddy had a secret.  And she told me that she couldn't say what it was and then proceeded to say thank you in her prayer for "the secret."  I cannot express how impressed I was with her for keeping it, too.  Even "I" had NO IDEA what the secret was - nor did I remember it even existed.

So when she woke up ecstatic this morning, I was very curious.  I didn't have to wait long to be told by my excited little girl that she and Daddy were going to make VERY SPECIAL NECKLACES with VERY SPECIAL BEADS today.

Now in all fairness, I woke up this morning with some excitement as well!  All I wanted to do was drive around and look at my list of potential houses to buy in the area.  I had researched them, plotted them out, narrowed them down, etc.  So when I woke up, I also ran downstairs excitedly to tell Daddy about MY PLAN for the day!

My daughter, usually my sidekick in looking at and dreaming about houses, told me she didn't want to go and look at houses with me today - that we could do it tomorrow - because today was the day for putting together VERY SPECIAL NECKLACES with Daddy.

Guess what?  Changing the oil in the car, an unplanned business call, an extra hungry baby with a few unplanned blowouts and baths, some turkey soup to take to a friend who had a baby, grocery shopping for the week, a wrong turn detour, and a few e-mails later . . . it was dark. And we couldn't see the houses I wanted to see.

I. Was. Upset.  Annoyed, frustrated, a little angry, and ultimately heartbroken.

But that was NOTHING compared to a little girl who realized as the sun went down that the day was over . . . and she had NOT gotten to have a special day or make her special necklace with Daddy and his special beads.

As she sobbed in the back seat, my first inclination was to be stern and get her to stop crying.  I mean, I was aggitated about my plans that had fallen through that day; I was in NO MOOD for a sobbing child in the closed confines of our car.

But it suddenly occurred to me that SHE was more upset by her plans falling through than I was.  She was heartbroken.

Once home, she broke down again - sobbing uncontrollably.  It was then that Daddy told me he had told her earlier in the week that on FRIDAY they were going to make special necklaces with special beads.  The dots connected; the light of understanding turned on.  As I headed upstairs to change a diaper, I heard her sobbing quietly in her room and mumbling under her breath about not getting to do her special project with Daddy.

It was at that moment that I realized that she needed to be understood.  She needed a hug.  She needed to feel validated in her feelings.  She needed to know it was okay to be heartbroken and cry.  She needed to know I understood the value of very special things and time with Daddy.  And she needed to understood that I "got" her - that I knew she was a person and not just a child!

I called her into my room and gave her a HUGE hug and said, "I am so sorry that you didn't get to do your necklaces today with Daddy."

She stopped crying, hugged me back, and said, "Thank you, Mommy!  I really wanted to do that all day.  Do you think we can do them tomorrow? Can we make tomorrow a day full of ALL the special things?"  Of course my answer was yes - and I may or may not have been near tears myself as her excited face and shining eyes and forgiving heart shone up at me.

I think sometimes we get lost in "parenting" our children.  We are teaching them, making them food, disciplining them (sometimes too much of that, huh?), correcting them, cleaning up after them, trying to get them to clean up after themselves, running here and there, telling them to be patient as we try to keep up with the constant demands, etc.  Sometimes in the midst of all of that, we forget they are just people like us.  They understand a lot more than we give them credit for.  They may be little, but that doesn't give them a lesser place of importance, a smaller voice in our home.

If we will just love them, respect them, understand them, validate them, include them, give them a role, and listen to them, we'll find that more frequently than we realized, they are the teachers; we are the students. But mostly, we really aren't that different.

My deliberate mothering goal is to give my children more of a voice in planning our days, in making decisions and setting goals, in choosing consequences for decisions, in creating a healthy menu that they will enjoy, etc.

Any tips and insight would definitely be welcome.


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