I wonder if other people have major parenting revelations in the floor of Sporting Goods stores. I sure did last week.
We are starting a new sporting adventure for our family: soccer. It was one of the few sports Shawn never played. And I certainly didn't play it, seeing as I don't posses an athletic hair, let alone bone. Yet Little Buddy has expressed interest, and so we have signed him up for soccer. Shawn took him to Dick's to get his gear, in preparation for the season. Words cannot convey the level of excitement LB has had over all of this. We attended the first practice/evaluations and it appears that LB is really, really going to enjoy soccer. So the Little Lady and I went back to Dick's on her preschool day off, to purchase some additional athletic shorts for LB.
I headed straight back to the Youth section, to look for pint sized shorts. I was on a mission. Of course the cute pinks and purples caught my, and her attention, first. I figured the Little Lady could use a pair of athletic shorts, too, so we began to look for XXS on all the running shorts racks. We gathered an armful and headed to the dressing room.
I bent down to the floor and asked her to pull the shorts she was wearing off, so we could try the new ones on. She did, and I discovered she neglected to don underwear that day. That in and of itself is funny. She didn't find any in her drawer that day. Instead of asking me for some, she just put on a pair of shorts. (I was a little behind in putting away the clean laundry). Oh well. She then asked if she could try the orange mesh shorts on first. I don't know why the orange ones caught her eye more than the other pinks did. Nevertheless, I removed them from the hanger and held them open for her to step into. I pulled them up to her waist, removed my hands and took a look.
Those adorable, tiny, orange mesh shorts immediately crumpled to the floor. Her eyes became wide in shock, she quickly bent and grabbed to pull them up, and stood up with the shorts. And they immediately fell right back to the floor.
Then it happened.
She began to giggle. Pulled the shorts up. They fell. More giggling. Pull up. Fall down. Hysterical giggling.
She thought this was absolutely hilarious. I was taken totally off guard. I confess there was a small part of me - the efficient, hurried, type-A, accomplishment, task orientated part - that wanted to rush her to stop playing and move on to the next pair. We needed to find shorts for buddy, socks for buddy, socks for daddy among other errands that day. I had to be at the car pool line to pick LB up from school. I had a definite time limit. But by the grace of God that day, I squashed that part of me.
I let go and laughed right along with her. For several minutes she pulled those shorts up, let them fall, we laughed, and repeated. Sitting on the floor of Dick's Sporting Goods, eye level with my daughter, I stopped rushing. I laughed, hard. I wasn't hurried. I let go of my mission for the day. I let her do as she wished to do for as long as she wished to do it, while we laughed and enjoyed each other's company. It felt pivotal. It felt so very good.
I was reminded to stop being in such a hurry, all the time. To stop and smell the roses. To take the moments that come our way and enjoy them; enjoy them together. To laugh at what she finds funny. To find it funny myself. How important this is for her! How important this is for me! My heart felt so light. The burdens weighing me down lately were lifted, at least for a little while. To let go of trying to accomplish a mission in everything and everywhere we go.
Perhaps just as pivotal for me was the realization that we've turned another page. For the longest time, I have dreaded taking my children in public, to a store. Yet this day, throughout all our stops, she was wonderful. I told her the day this happened just how very good she was for our outing. She was sooooo good. Three years ago I never would have imagined this is where we would be. I told her about how I once lost her in Kohls, three separate times, during one visit while both Shawn and I were constantly watching her! She would dart away, dashing through the aisles, taking turns left and right and would be gone before I could get to the end of the aisle. It was terrifying! She would run and run and thought it was so fun. This meant that outings were a stressful nightmare for me. It turned me into a hateful banshee on the inside. And so, shying away from outings has become my unconscious habit. Outings were only done out of necessity. Never, ever, for enjoyment.
Yet now the Little Lady is four. It has been four long years of perseverance, and I am reaping my harvest. My parenting verse has always been Galations 6:9. "Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary." God has known the weariness of my soul over the last four years. The Little Lady called me to battle daily. Hourly, if not more frequently, if we're being honest here, over every single thing imaginable. I am not a warrior. Yet she called me to be one. I had to lean on God every moment to get through the battles she called me to. So fine is that line to rein in her strong, defiant will while not diminishing or breaking that beautiful spirit. I was battle weary. Oh so battle weary. I wanted to give up so many times. So many moments I felt like I could not keep doing this. I was miserable. My life felt miserable. She made everything miserable. (Oh, the guilt that feeling induced!) It was nothing like what I expected parenitng to be. I was so afraid that she'd finally wear me down, she would finally win, and through that, we would both fail. I cried out to God so, so much for wisdom, for strength, for guidance, and for perseverance.
Through all of this, the Little Lady taught me to fight the battles that are important. She taught me to discern the battles that were truly worth being a warrior for, and which ones weren't. I believe so many of us moms out there are fighting the wrong battles - focusing our energy in the wrong and fruitless places that in the end simply do not matter. I have battled her. I have felt worn down like I never would have imagined. I have had to rely on the strength of God working through me, because I could not do it on my own.
When suddenly while running some errands on a random day, I realized we've come out of it. I am reaping my harvest. I did not break. I did not give up. I kept going. I persevered. And she has received that blessing.
For she was soooo good that day. I hope so very much that we have reached her heart in all of this. I don't want outward compliance. I want her heart to be changed. I don't know when things with her changed. I don't know when she suddenly became a blessing, instead of a struggle. It wasn't a sudden on/off. It was gradual and slow. So much so that I hadn't realized just where we were in our journey until this day in the floor of Dick's, and then in the rest of our errands. I enjoyed shopping with my daughter. And I'm not a shopper! But our outing that day, that did encompass things I had to accomplish, was still incredibly delightful. I was faced with the realization that we've turned that page. I was able to realize I'm finally reaping my harvest, and praise God for never leaving me through the struggles. Because being on this side of things is oh, so, sweet.
My approach to being in a store, or anywhere really, with her was guarded. Always watchful. Always ready. Armed for battle. Yet sitting in that floor, giggling with my four year old daughter, taught me that things have changed. We are in a new place now. We can go somewhere, just to go. Just to be. Just to have fun. Never would I have imagined how awesome this would be.
Perhaps Little Buddy starting kindergarden, and the adjustment to having to be up and ready to go somewhere so early, have my mind a little open. While I was sitting there on the floor of Dick's, I remembered a story I heard before having children. Robert Lewis did a Bible study of sorts called "The New Eve". Now you can just read it in a book. It is wonderful. But in it, he tells the story of Timmy.
Timmy was a youngster "who was having trouble at school. Timmy's mother was called in to discuss his poor performance. She heard about his reading problems and his struggles with math. Then the teacher asked "why does Timmy always say, 'Love is slow?' "Timmy's mother suddenly began to sob. She knew. She then explained about her demanding job and the long hours she had to give to it. TO get to work on time in the morning, she had to constantly push Timmy along. Then at night after a long day, she had to rush back home to cook dinner, clean up, and get to bed. The whole time she was pressing Timmy to finish his homework, pick up his toys, take a bath, and so on. "I find myself constantly saying to him, 'Timmy, you are so slow!' " For any child, love is slow. You simply cannot properly nurture the next generation without large amounts of time and focused attention. That's particularly true for children five years of age and younger. "
Quote from _The New Eve_ by Robert Lewis, Chapter 7, page 101
I'm so thankful that we had to visit Dick's that day, and I re-found the message of "Love is Slow". I've got to remember that more. Stop. Listen. Play. Enjoy. Smile. Laugh.
I hope that this has inspired those who read it to slow down, too, and delight in their days. Stop rushing.
I was so struck by all of this that I took the Little Lady back to Dick's the next preschool day off, to shoot some images to go along with this post. The lighting was horrible. I was at such a slow shutter speed that a lot of them are blurred and missed focus. But the joy in these images is so evident, I decided to include them. Let go of perfection. Share the joy.
I also want to encourage other parents of strong willed little people out there. Don't give up!!! Continue to sow. Continue to be steadfast in the things you wish to teach your little one, even when you have nothing left within to do it. Rely on God. For one day you will reap your harvest. I know it.
Now tell me you weren't giggling right along with her.