Confession: I ride the Mommy teeter totter.
Teeter: On one side, there is the almost irresistible instinct to shield my children from every harm that might befall them, to go before them and prepare the way.
Totter: The knowledge that they must themselves be prepared to enter the world and able to handle the blows that will undoubtedly come their ways.
At a playdate my little one was 4. All excited, arms and legs moving, mouth yelling and hollering in free delight. Running upstairs to meet friends only to encounter a door slammed in his face.
“We don’t want you.”
Standing on the landing, play sword dangling, eyes filling with tears he looked down at me. My emotions formed quicker than my thoughts.
Instinctively I gathered our things and we left.
Was I protecting him?
Each situation I now wonder: Is this something designed for real-world training, or a time I need to protect them? Are my responses fueled by a desire to be the best parent for them or am I safeguarding my mommy heart? Or even worse - my mommy pride?
My child at 7 is beautiful and fun and feisty; willing to play and laugh with anyone. I watched her playing a rousing game of tag with some classmates while her sibling participated in a soccer game. Slowly the mood of the group started to shift from play to teasing and then disintegrated into unkind.
The only one unaware of the change was my daughter, and I was painfully mindful that she was becoming the brunt of a new game that would not end well. I walked to the group and as my presence was felt the kids looked at me sheepishly and scattered. My little girl glared at me in frustration.
She wondered why I couldn’t let her enjoy this moment of blessed community. It has always been the ache of her soul to have a gaggle of friends and giggles and attention. To her, I was the killjoy with a mission to keep her from friendships.
Her irritation quickly moved to anger. “Why do you always ruin everything, mom?”
I knew that to alert her to my protection was to shine a light on the fraudulent camaraderie.
I smiled small and let her pout.
Conferences came around and the teacher slowly pointed out that my second grader had not turned in any of her math homework. We were surprised that there even was any schoolwork at all. None had made it to the kitchen table during homework rounds.
The teacher hadn’t alerted us sooner because “I just thought that was the way things went at your house.”
Should I have not allowed the natural consequences? Should I have been cushioning her in school from the repercussions that she needed to feel? Or would it just preserve my pride in being the mommy that has it all together?
Maybe I read the entire situation all wrong?
The tension of the teeter totter shifts quicker than I can anticipate. They change. I change. The world races along at an adult pace willing the kids to grow quickly.
“Catch up,” it seems to call!
I grasp and balance and try to offset the uncertainty. Sometimes it works, sometimes I tumble into the sandbox. Always I find peace when speaking truth.
Dusting myself off after a fall: “He knows the plans He has for them, plans for a hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29:11)
Shifting to regain balance: “I give thanks to you, Jesus, for they are fearfully and wonderfully made.” (Psalm 139:14)
Fearful that God’s plans will overwhelm them: “He can make a mountain into a highway” (Isaiah 49:11)
It’s in the realization that I serve Him,
not the sweet children I have (whose hearts are so tender),
not my husband (who I long to please and honor),
not myself (and the pride that rears its head).
Jesus is the same yesterday and today and tomorrow. He never teeters or shifts or reacts from rash emotion or pride. He gives me eyes to see and grace when I fail. And He is the one who will be glorified.