Being a parent is hard, as in challenging, and I feel its weightiness especially when my children make decisions. It seemed simpler when they were young; we taught simpler things like not grabbing for toys or hitting their playmate across the head. We taught them to ask to be excused from the table and to look people in the eyes when addressed. Now we are teaching much bigger things like how to think for and manage themselves well, how to parallel park and do laundry. How to extend an apology, manage their checking account…you know, these types things. And these all piggy back off of the very simple principles we taught them when they were young, we just didn’t know that is what we were doing. Do not grab for toys or hit your playmate translated into teaching them to be kind and honoring of others. You know…simple things like that.
But here’s the thing, it is not always so simple.
I am realizing an area that I have not necessarily excelled in was allowing my kids to reap their own harvest. I am a believer of the spiritual concept of sowing and reaping, however, I have always been a fixer. I have used vitamins and oils to make me well. Running to keep me fit and sane. I’ve read books on how to parent. I have attended conferences to help my marriage. Whatever has seemingly been broken or needing attention…there hasn’t been a fix I have sought. Struggling? I know a counselor for that. Need encouragement? I have a word. Bleeding? I have afantastic collection of band-aids.
But here is one thing I am learning about fixing…
*Somethings don’t need fixed. Sometimes, if you can keep your hands off it and your attention diverted from it, it takes care of itself like a scab on your body that does better when you simply leave it alone. Awareness is good. It encourages attention, as in keeping an eye on, but constant attention is cumbersome. It builds anxiety and expectation, both which are as dangerous to the mind as being forced to watch the paint dry or grass grow.
*When you are quick to fix, it places Y-O-U in the position of being savior, the one that calms the storm and readies the situation with a solution. Want to set yourself up for failure? Jump in quick and attempt to fix. You will find out sooner or later that it doesn’t need fixed and that YOU are not called to be the fixer. You can actually meddle and further fracture a situation that may have needed attention…just not THEN and just not YOU.
*Those who feel the need to fix often are not operating in wisdom. They are operating out of emotion and fear. Let me back up and say this, “When I have felt the need to fix, I was not operating out of wisdom. I was operating out of emotion and fear.” (I feel better now that I clarified that). I would make a terrible EMT or someone whose job required them to be a first responder on the scene. I REACT because my feeling are telling me to DO SOMETHING because I am afraid. I don’t feel in control. I take things personally. I shoulder the weight myself because it may be my fault. These sounds HORRIBLE being spoken out loud, but this is my blog and not yours and besides, this is holy and honest ground. This is the truth and the B-I-B-L-E tells me that the truth will make me free – John 8:32 – And I often forget I am free.
But not today.
One of our kids has been in glasses since before Kindergarten. His prescription is strong and I am confident he cannot see without them, he definitely cannot see well. He is now in middle school and can we all just say a prayer for our middle school youth? It is HARD, not like parenting hard, because middle school makes parenting look EASY. It is grueling. Parents of kids in middle school…I am with you.
Peer pressure, peer acceptance, any word associated with peer is just…
So a year ago we began trying to transition him to contacts. He plays sports, is incredible active and has broken more glasses than I can count. Plus he has gotten bullied. Need I say more? Yes, I’ll say it once more…middle school is HARD. We have an amazing eye doctor who was able to finally transition him into a pair of contacts that work best with his needs and we have been working with him on how to care for them…HOWEVER, our son is now past the mom and dad know everything to mom and dad know N-O-T-H-I-N-G. At this point in the game, we can encourage and remind about the importance of taking his contacts out at night and cleaning them or we can physically pick him up, hold his eyes open and manually remove them. Which do you think is the more viable option?
Yesterday he woke up and realized though he took his contacts OUT, he did not put cleaning solution in his container and because I have relied on the crutch of FIXING for far too long and because I was the first responder on the scene when he realized it, our morning did not go well for a moment or two. I’m taking away the iPod and TV for surely both are distractions that keep him from properly paying attention to the care of his contacts at night. We own a school bus company so can you only imagine if MY kid misses the school bus? He was going to inconvenience me, I was going to have to drive him to school, he was going to be late…
Me and I and blah blah blah…
I sucked as a parent. For a five minutes, I totally did. Like big time sucked.
And then I walked away and remembered WHO I was. It took time and a sink full of dishes to wash but Jesus kept whispering to me my name. He reminded me that I do not have to fix this, that this is actually not my gig. It is HIS.
I walked back into the living room and my son, who HATES missing school, was frantically pacing the carpet trying to put dirty contacts back in his eyes. It wasn’t working. His eyes burned. He’d wait awhile and he’d try again. It didn’t work. I realized that he was reaping his own harvest and that I did not need to be the teacher here, life was. What I needed to do was get out of the way so to not interfere and put my meddling ways behind me.
He refused his glasses and eventually did go to school (though I have a feeling he was almost blind when I dropped him at the door). I didn’t have to say another word. He was reaping what He had sown and it wasn’t for me to judge his harvest, it was for me to be there for him through it.
Allowing someone to face their own reality is a very hard thing to do, it is a bitter pill to swallow, but it must be swallowed. This is a life lesson I wish someone would have told me about sooner, it is one I wish I had already mastered but I don’t. I am not perfect and though there are days I screw it up, my heart always reminds me to apologize for the times I step outside of myself and become all undone. It reminds me to look upon them compassionately…perhaps they too are doing the best they can.
One of the most hardest of titles is that of PARENT and one of the most EMPOWERING gifts I can give my children as their parent is that of facing their own reality so they understand how powerful their choices are.
I am not called to fix them, they are not broken. I am called to love them and remind them of WHO they are.
It is not my job to go around softening life’s lessons.