Thursday, December 11, 2008

A Necessary Confidence

If you like to write, it takes time, as all things do. It also requires a mood, energy and sometimes even an atmosphere. Over the last couple of months, I have had all of those things, but not ever at the same time. I would have something floating around in my mind I would like to have seen processed through my fingers on to the screen but each time either the almighty list or my pillow would win out. Stiff competition. Today, I think all the “planets” (those being kids, Jeff, a block of time) have lined up correctly and so now my trouble is which floating subject do I rescue from never being expressed??? I know it matters to no one else but what therapy it is for me to think through it and see it on my screen!
I think most pressing to me would be Julia. True to the female species, our relationship is multi-faceted. I know I am in critical years (if they are not over already) of laying a foundation for our relationship from which I hope to benefit for years to come. I know the fruit I want to see years from now, but getting there, the “how to”, is proving the most difficult thing I have ever set out to do. Wow. I never knew it was possible to have so many parenting questions in the span of a day. I have always been a second guesser, always questioning my decisions, and I am learning in parenting there is no time for that personality quirk. If I second guess myself, I wind up looking like a dufus TV parent and if I don’t, I wind up apologizing a few minutes later. So my thoughts go, is she behaving like this because I am her mother AND her teacher, because she feels I didn’t spend enough time with her yesterday, because that cough is more than an aggravating allergy, because we haven’t had enough foursome family time, because she hasn’t gotten to play with her girlfriends this week, because we have been traveling a lot lately, because I need to switch from math to spelling “right now”, because her brother awakened her too early, because she is six?? I know I need more confidence-- to take hold of it. Confidence in what the Lord has called me to do. Confidence in the fact that God has equipped me with all I need to do this job in a manner worthy of His affirmation. Confidence in the awesome fact that I am the mother He hand picked for her.

Over the last month or so, we have been in, what I can’t describe any better than, a funk. Nothing has been much fun. She and I seem to be butting heads on everything from 8+3 to what is for breakfast. Sometime in October, reading time during “school” which is normally the highlight of our morning, started being rushed and brief because of the trouble we were having earlier in the school morning. I began to let my mind wander to thoughts like, “Am I really supposed to be doing this?”, “Is this really good for her?”, “Do I know what is best for her?”, “Am I going to know when to give her more freedom?” She and I have prayed often asking God to help us to obey Him, to understand each other and to make good decisions. Thinking that she and I just needed some time to reconnect and enjoy each other, I had my sights set on the Mother Daughter weekend which was a couple of weekends away.

A few weekends ago, we made the trip to south Texas with our dear friends Nikki and Atlee. I rode down with lofty expectations for the weekend thinking that on the way home I would feel as if I were her “favorite” person again. Before leaving home, I had resolved to be a “Yes Mom” (within reason) while at the retreat—letting her make her food choices and picking her activities for Saturday. I was feeling responsible for some of our “troubles” and therefore, had been feeling insecure in my parenting abilities. I thought maybe allowing her more control would help our situation even though it had backfired the weekend before. (I allowed her to make her food choices while lunching at a friend’s house. After her barely eaten lunch plate was taken from the table, she was given a choice between two desserts. She chose one, finished it and then politely asked for the second choice, finished that and politely asked for a second helping of the latter! Hmmm…..) I was excited about listening to the speaker for the retreat expecting God to use her to untangle this knotted parenting mess out.

When it came time to sign up for activities, I let her choose: rock climbing, horse riding, and the Giant Swing. Perfect. When it came time for the Giant Swing, she began to ask if she and Atlee could do it together. Oh my. This swing is “giant” in every sense of the word. Once your harness and helmet is strapped on correctly, you are literally hooked to the swing. You are pulled up into the tree tops about thirty feet in the air and then released causing you to free fall through the woods and then swing back and forth until you stop. Julia is adventuresome but not quite “fall from the sky” adventuresome. She had no idea. I knew she didn’t. In attempts to change her mind, I first started with the, “I want to do it with you!” routine, then went with the “Nikki wants to do it with Atlee.” bit, and then, my last resort, the, “I don’t think you two weigh enough to do it by yourselves.” half truth (I used “think”)--- all the time Nikki looking at me like, “I want to help but I am enjoying watching you try way too hard.” None of this ended her begging which turned into crying (????) so finally, I just put my size 9 parent foot down and said, “No. You and I are doing it together. No more discussion.” When it came to our turn, a half pouty Julia and I climbed the contraption to get into the swing. Once harnessed in, I asked her if she wanted to go all the way to the top. We had watched most pairs stop about half or three quarters of the way up. She wanted to go all the way to the top……of course. Well, once up there, I didn’t have time to breathe much less say, “You ready?” or “You doing okay?” before the swing was set free and Julia was released into the rush of her 6 ¾ year old life. An unanticipated, unfamiliar, unwelcome rush, I might add. Her little bottom had slid off of the swing seat leaving her feeling VERY airborne. She couldn’t scream. She couldn’t speak. She couldn’t cry. She was in shock. When she found her tongue, all she could say was, “I don’t like that. I don’t like that.” Over and over and over. I tried to comfort her as best I could swinging through areas meant only for birds and squirrels but once her feet were on the sweet ground, she burst into tears releasing the stress the best way she knew how. As I held her, I also held my tongue. She calmed down after several minutes and enjoyed the rest of her fun filled day. It wasn’t until a full 24 hours later did she say she MIGHT try it again when she was “bigger”.
On the drive home, I didn’t have the “reconnected” feeling I had hoped for on the drive down. There had been no major revelations during our sessions- no unknotting of my own messes. Thankfully, we had loads of fun and I could be somewhat satisfied with that. It wasn’t until I lay in bed that night praying about the next school day did the Lord remind me of the swing incident. It was such a simple thing but it was as if He wanted me to realize that I had known what was best for her when I needed to make a quick decision. He was reminding me of a small "something" on which to build my confidence and to depend on Him in these moments that are "historically" known to throw me for a loop. Small thing but big encouragement. He’s given me what I need. It is there for my taking. “ ..being confident of this, that He who began a good work in [me] will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” Philippians 1:6
And I am confident that it will take every available minute until then.

Grandparent info:
These girls had a ball and are counting on next year already.
The weather was amazing that weekend as you can see the wading in the water in the afternoon and then the wearing heavy coats that night on the hayride. I was proud of her making it to the top of the rock climbing wall. She made sure she rang the bell and then repelled down beautifully! The highlight of the weekend may have been getting to have her fingernails and toenails painted any color she wanted. She picked several colors, of course.
These two girls enjoy each other so much and I couldn't be more thankful for their friendship. Atlee is a sweet girl in every sense of the word.... just like her momma.


Beth said...

I LOVED reading this post (but that's no surprise, really, since I enjoy all of your writing). You are such a tremendous mother to Julia and Brighton; I feel like I have wonderful mentoring right in front of me every time I read about your family, parenting thoughts, etc. Thanks for sharing your heart (I'm constantly tucking away little nuggets of info from your blog for the next few years when Carly approaches six!)

Dondra said...

Krista, This is such a tender post. I love your thoughts and honesty. You are a wonderful mother and teacher. Words can not begin to describe what a great friend you are! love you!

Anonymous said...

Just asking the questions means that you are a "good momma" Julia is a very blessed little girl

Jeff Sanders

Sarah said...

love seeing the photos of sweet julia and atlee as they grow into little girls!

TJ Wilson said...

Keep learning - and passing on - those parenting nuggets from every day life. Your size 9 shoe is the perfect one for J.