Have you ever had one of those moments where you feel like God is shouting, "Look up! Take a pause from the busyness of life and look at what I'm showing you!" This happened to me recently. I was in a place where I was living "in the weeds." Running myself daily until the point of empty. Nothing left to give to anyone by the end of the day. A constant crazy schedule that didn't allow me to fully listen to my kids when they got home from school and wanted to tell me what every kid in their class had for lunch or who was mean to who on the playground. I was multitasking and checking off that list in my head that never seems to end while they told me about their days. Rather than living my life in the good soil where I can grow and bloom at this parenting thing, I stayed stuck in the weeds. The good soil is when you are aware and open to what God is trying to show you.
My oldest daughter recently came home from school and put all her papers on the counter as usual. As I was going through them (and assuming I was about to smuggle most of them out to the recycling bin), I saw a paper titled My 2017 New Year's Resolutions. Of course there were a couple funny ones from my eight-year-old, like "Eat more candy" and "Hear Santa's bells." Then I got to the part that said her #1 goal of 2017: "Get my dog back from heaven." My heart was broken. It's been about seven months since our dog, Dakota, passed. The kids were devastated for about a week afterwards. Then, just like kids do, they moved on...or so we thought. They didn't bring it up a whole lot, with the exception being my youngest who was three and a half at the time. She still tells me several times a week what our Dakota is doing in heaven and lists exactly who she's playing with that day. When people asked how we were doing, my husband always told them I was taking it the hardest. I still can't even look at her picture without crying. But to now see that this continues to be a major hurt for my daughter, and to realize she wasn't coming to us to talk about it, really bothered me.
So there I was, moving into the good soil. The one where I am fully aware that God is showing me something to help me grow as a parent. I started to really think about why our daughter didn't come to us about her continued hurt over losing our dog. I always imagined being the mom that all three of my daughters would see as their safe spot and know they can talk to me about anything. What God showed me next hit me like a ton of bricks.
Let's be honest, a day with three girls and all the crying, whining, fighting, and drama is truly exhausting. I realized, though, in this moment that both my husband and I instantly say (or yell) "STOP CRYING!" the very moment it starts. They are human. They are supposed to cry. They are supposed to feel. I know these things. I cry. I was crying the minute I realized this and I'm crying again as I write about it. The interesting part is I've always felt strongly about letting my kids express their emotions and to be who they are. So to be completely unaware I was dismissing their emotions was shocking. I have people close to me that were unable to express any emotions in their home growing up. Those same people really struggle still as adults with both expressing their own emotions and handling others' emotions. I couldn't believe I was heading toward a path that I never wanted to go down.
The good news is, I am now aware. I'm living in the good soil ready to grow. I'm also learning to give myself grace for my shortcomings. I don't know how it happened, but somewhere along the way, my patience for my kids has slowly disappeared. I haven't always been like this. I've lovingly and patiently poured myself into their needs. I spent many years rocking and cuddling my babies and living in our own bubble. Just when I thought I had this parenting job down, they entered a new phase of life. Soccer, gymnastics, Girl Scouts, cheerleading, homework, tests, issues with friends, picking up interesting words at school, and all types of uncharted territory. I can't even imagine when we enter the phase of middle school, high school, driving, and dealing with boyfriends. I'm sure there are more mistakes to make and learn from with each phase. I think I truly understand why they call the firstborn child "the first pancake." I was a "first pancake," and I turned out alright.
If there's anything I learned from this experience, it's to plant yourself in that good soil. Be open to His love and beauty chasing after you all day, everyday. The years with your kids go by so fast, but that doesn't mean you can't always work on making that first pancake, and the ones that follow, into the beautiful pancake God designed them to be.
Meet Jenn. Her warm smile probably has you feeling like you've known her for years. She has the gift of making others feel welcome and understood. Jenn somehow manages to always be punctual, even with a household of three little girls to corral. She's got a huge heart for animals and an eye for the perfect jewelry to match any outfit. A good heart-to-heart, ending in a laugh 'til it hurts kind of moment, feeds her soul. Jenn sees God in the people and beauty that surrounds her.