"It's like my mother says: 'A woman as brings up twelve children learns something besides her ABC. Children's as good at 'rithmetic to set you findin' out things'"
- Martha: The Secret Garden
The other day Taylor wanted to go on a walk. She had been asking for a while. It is hard this time of year, since it is often 80 degrees at 6am and at LEAST 100 at 5pm, often up to 110. But it was a cooler day and we were fast approaching evening so we decided to brave the heat and get some exercise. Now for those of you that have never seen my house, we are the second to the last one on a street that was designed to keep going, but the bank or someone ran out of money. So while there are no more houses, there is a huge field with partially paved walks and lots and lots of weeds. We can go halfway down the block and loop around into the field and come right back to our street. Or, as we chose to do on this walk...we can keep going into the field, cross some rough terrain and come out further down the street. All that to say; Taylor wanted a long walk and who are we to refuse exercise (and a chance to get wiggles out of toddlers) so we crossed the first rough part and kept going. Now, this field has been an adventure to Taylor from the start. She has cruel parents you see - and the very first time we ever walked in it she was nervous and wanted to turn back. But we told her no, we had started...we were going to finish. Then she wanted a parent to carry her. Again we said no, that she could walk herself. As soon as the house was out of site she really was not happy. This was new ground, she didn't recognize it - but mom and dad were right there so we told her she needed to walk herself. It was a chance to learn how to be brave even when things are a little scary. Well, she did it! The moment our house came back into view a smile a mile wide lit up that freckled face and we heard for days about how "brave she had been" walking all by herself in the field. And she had!
But this day we went further, the ground was no longer flat and easy to walk on. There were weeds that caught at her legs and she was tired. But she knows, when we are on walks she has to keep going. Oh there was much complaining! "It's too hard! I can't go on anymore!" But every time she stopped mom and dad got further away. Now - to all you parents shaking your heads at me and clasping your darling children to you let me clarify - the entire walk is maybe 1/2 mile. She was in good shoes and fully capable - her little sister was keeping up after all. But oh she was not happy! Everything hurt, everything was tired. We were on the verge of tears because it was HARD! But guess what...even though it was hard...she did it! She walked on her own, she battled through her fears and she came out the other side!
I have learned much as a parent. I have learned to function on very little sleep. I have learned what battles are worth fighting and that going to the grocery store in a tutu and rain boots is not the end of the world (my child, not me - though on those mornings after a night of a small one teething I wouldn't put it past me!)I have learned that kisses really can heal the little hurts and I that water + dirt + kids is almost always a recipe for disaster...and fun. But I think one of the most valuable things I have learned is to understand God just a little bit better. Sometimes life is hard. Sometimes the road is bumpy, there is dirt in my shoes, scratches on my legs, giant weeds in my way and gopher holes where I least expect them. Sometimes it is scary to go down a path I have never been down before. I cry, I complain. My legs hurt, my eyes hurt, my tummy hurts, my head hurts and my heart hurts. Every time I stop to rest all it does it put me that much further behind. Even those younger and less knowledgeable then me seem to have it all together while I am crying out for the world to "wait for me!" At that point, in my misery - it makes no sense to me. What is the point of this walk? Sure, I asked to go on it...but shouldn't that mean I can also stop whenever I want? WHY do I have to finish? Why is my father being so stubborn and making me do it all by my self? WHY can't he just carry me over the bumpy parts so I don't risk skinning my knee? Why is he ignoring my cries for help? Doesn't he love me? Doesn't he care that I am hurting right now?
See where I am going with this?
The answer is yes. He does care, but he sees a bigger picture. And you know what? As a parent, watching my child go through that is easy. Maybe it is just me - I will be at her side encouraging all she needs. Telling her she can do it, even telling her it is time to stop whining when I have heard enough. But I feel no pity. This is a lesson that needs to be learned and I KNOW she can do it. So we go slow. We will learn how to walk over the rough patches. We hold hands when she needs it, but we don't if she doesn't. I am never far away, always watching, always encouraging - but never stopping. And when we get to the end? What a celebration! Laughing, smiling, hi-fiving. I knew she could do it, but that doesn't make the celebration any less grand. And then guess what? Tired as she was, she RAN all the way home!
Next time (and there will be a next time) It will still not be easy. The road will still be bumpy and the weeds will still be scratchy but she will know how to manage. She will know when she needs to hold Daddy's hand. She will know when she can do it on her own. She will take it slow when she needs to and go faster on the easy parts. She has learned! And she is so excited about that. Honestly, she feels a little silly that she thought it was so hard. And isn't that the case! We whine, we complain, we wallow in self pity and yell at God to help us over the hard parts! Doesn't he love me? Doesn't he care that I am hurting right now? Is he just standing there watching us fume, arms crossed trying hard not to crack a smile at our dramatics - not a bit of pity. After all, this is a lesson that needs to be learned and He KNOWS we can do it. He will hold our hands if we need it, He wont if we don't. And when we get to the other side? Oh He will celebrate with us! Even though He knew we could do it. And wont we feel a bit silly really? He knew it was ok all along, why can't we trust that?
I am learning to trust - slowly. Too slowly sometimes. But I am learning! And I am reminded every time I get to be the one encouraging. Every time I am standing there watching a small one fume, arms crossed trying hard not to crack a smile at her dramatics - without a bit of pity. Oh how silly I must look to God!
Ah - speaking of silly I have a small one throwing a tantrum because the show is done. This one is still learning how it works. You throw a fit when the show is done? You don't get a show next time! Ah me, it is ok. She will learn. I have faith, and not a bit of pity!