Hold Their Hands…

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After a bit of a hiatus, I’ve been peeking into Facebook here and there “just to see” what’s been going on with some of my old friends and more distant family members.  The main topic as of late has been the weather, and school closings, and there’s been a lot of chatter the past few days about kids being stuck at home…or more accurately, moms complaining that the kids can’t go to school and their resulting despair because of it.  My kids haven’t been able to go back to school here in Minneapolis either, not because of excessive snow, but because the wind chill temps have been in the -40 to -50 degree range, cold enough to freeze your skin solid in about 5 minutes flat if exposed to the air.

I can’t even begin to describe what that feels like…so I wont…

When my family walked out into the dark morning and balmy -24 degree air this morning to go back to regularly scheduled programming, I sighed and climbed back into my cozy bed to contemplate my plan for the day. I opened email on my phone and drifted over to Facebook instead and began reading post after post about the turmoil that was happening at bedtime last night not knowing if there would be yet another snow/cold day for multiple family and friends.  And then it went on to parents now cheering this morning as their kids do in fact head back to school…phew!  That was a close one!  Then this thought came to my mind as I rode the roller coaster of all those emotions…

Why do mothers cry when their children go off to kindergarten, mourning the loss of their babies, the carefree days of them playing at home and no dictating schedules, and the dawn of a new chapter in life and the resulting lost freedom, yet scream, kick, cry, groan, and LAMENT over a snow day, or three, tacked on to an already awesome two week winter break?  What happened between those two moments?

I’ll admit, when my kids went to kindergarten, I was the mom secretly laughing at the crying ones for their foolish sadness and Kleenex parties.  I was the one who RAN away from the school, clicking my heels in the air as I went rejoicing in that freedom I now had with my day empty of children.  Did they not know what was ahead for them??  QUIET.  TIME for a long shower! Grocery shopping could happen ALONE.  All glorious things!  But something has changed for me.  I was sad this morning when my family left me.

Yesterday, I caught my 15 year old son in a lie.  It was on a topic we have been butting heads on for almost a year now.   I sat him down and confronted him, again, begged for explanations, and cried.  Yes, I cried.  Bawled actually.  I let the year of frustration freely roll down my cheeks.  I poured out my heart to him.  I told him how frustrated I was and how I felt like a bad parent because I couldn’t figure out how to communicate to him in a way that got results I wanted to see.  I told him I was sad he didn’t trust me as a parent that my decisions for him were because of how much I loved him.  I told him about mistakes I made at his age and how the consequences I suffered from lack of discipline motivate me in how I parent him because I love him so much I don’t want him to hurt like I have sometimes.  He sank in his chair and his cheeks turned red as he sat quietly and listened.  And then, a beautiful, hour-long conversation about compromise, understanding, encouragement in making changes, and empowerment happened.  We joked about my tears and I told him “I’m training you for marriage!” and he responded, “Thanks for that…” and then suddenly I realized, I was right.  One day, many days actually, his wife is going to sit in front of him and pour her heart out to him and tears will surely flow.  How is he going to know how to respond to that if I don’t take the time to teach him??  In the midst of my frustration over his lie, I was able to teach him probably 10 life lessons in that conversation that followed and speak into his life in a way no one had ever done for me.

So here’s the thing, fellow moms, BUCK UP!  Stop the moaning and complaining that you have to deal with your kids one. more. day.  It’s a blessing from God.  I didn’t realize it until this morning but I see it now.  If my kids didn’t have that extra day off of school I might not have had this opportunity to pour teaching and wisdom into my son’s life!  He’s almost 16.  My time is running out with him.  I’ll be the first to admit that missing a day of work can be a huge inconvenience with snowball consequences or that a quiet day at home to get things done without interruption is bliss.  I relish in them as much as you do.  But I’m realizing as I’m moving from younger children to older children that my job as a parent is very important and I cannot slack off.  I need to take advantage of the time I am given with them and I probably should have used some of that time more wisely when they were younger.  I only get one chance to raise each one of my children into adulthood, God willing.  I want to make the best of it.  I want to deal with the boredom.  I want to deal with the squabbling.  I want to deal with the lies, and sneaking around, and less than desirable character flaws they may develop.  I want to discipline with love and have time to cry and pour out my heart to them.  It’s my job!!!

Enjoy the time you are given with your children.  It’s precious and limited.  Look for opportunities to pour your heart out to them.  Find the time.  Make time.  Love them.  Discipline them.  Teach them.  Set your needs and desires aside to raise them and mold them into the adult you wish you were sometimes.  I want to be the greatest influence in my children’s lives.  Not their teachers.  Not their friends.   Not their coaches. Not the Internet, or iPad, YouTube, or TV shows.  ME.  God gifted these babies to me to raise up and train in the way they should go.  It will be hard.  It will be tiring and annoying and get in the way of what we had planned for our day.  Things can wait.  We need to want to be with our kids every chance we get and influence them in the time we are given before they are off in this big scary world alone and we can no longer hold their hands…

“Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.”  Proverbs 22:6

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