This summer started out with quite an internal struggle. I started the summer thinking I had to have everything figured out for my big kids. A schedule to match the busier pace of our school year. What I realized, starting with my last post, was that I didn’t need to do that. At all. There have been days that are painfully boring, full of tasks that I hate to do with my kids. The hardware store with big kids: just as bad as with little kids. Hunting down a seller for a Craigslist deal: ultra stressful and bribes get expensive for these trips. Chik-fil-A was over $20. Ugh. So, there are tasks I’d rather not do.
But, there are days that are slow and beautiful. Where we drink coffee, do our summer reading, do some chores, and we all stay in our pajamas. There are days we spend 3 hours at the pool and spend time with all sorts of friends, eat snacks, and come home pinker than before. There are days we do some boring stuff, and then do some letterboxing before dinner has to get going. Summer has been wonderful. I’m not ready to resume the tasks of the school year.
And then, there are the conversations we have. This is where big kids just make me feel like I have been given such an amazing gift. We talk about the way they can spend their money, the conversations they have with their friends, why they like who they do and why that is. I love talking to them about how things aren’t always fair and how heaven is a real place, and how I know it’s hard to wait to be there. It’s humbling to stop and let them explore what they think and feel when watching TV or listening to popular music. I was free to explore it, and try to relate to the simple, clumsy poetry that is contained in pop culture. Sometimes, it’s very accurate and helps define who you are as an adult, so I guess I give some freedom. I love guiding them and talking them through thoughts that might be bigger than their maturity. If a question comes up and Josiah says,”Hmm, I never thought about that, now I will.” I think I’ve done my job a little bit.
Today, I had to tell my son to do the dishes, do his math (from this past year we are still finishing), and to do his summer reading while I stepped out for a bit with his sisters and grandma. It ended up being a longish trip, and although his grandpa was around, he was not to be bothered. I know Josiah got bored, and all he wanted to do was watch TV come 5pm. I had to tell him to get out of the house and take a walk before that happened because he decided to “parent” (or boss around) his 5 yr old sister. That’s a big no-no in our house. I also let his sisters go ahead and watch TV because they had not been given some of the privileges he had while on his own. He was MAD at me. He went on his walk and came home with tears still in his eyes and said “I didn’t enjoy a single minute of that”. And then proceeded to plop himself down on the couch and watch what his sisters had put on. Which is a TV show that will go unnamed, but is not for 11.5 yr old boys, I’ll tell ya. Attitude, disrespect, the silent treatment. That’s when I long for littles all over again.
I still see my son and my older daughter (my bigs) and I marvel at how amazing they are. What wonderful people they are becoming! I had nothing to do with this. I long for them to not be affected at all by my sin, but I know that is God’s job, not mine. I have had moments of uncontrollable emotion this summer, and they just are OK with my tears. They understand if I am overwhelmed. The enemy likes to mess with me, I hate it, I pray against his taunting of me and my mind. There was one Sunday when Joel was out of town and I could have easily not gone to church. I slept like crap the night before, and I knew going to church would be a challenge. I cried on the way to church and I explained that I was feeling the enemy mess with me, but I was making the choice to put myself in a place of worship so I could focus on God and not all my worries and fears. My kids listened, they loved on me, they walked through those doors with me and stood by my side. I know my children are my friends. I want to keep them that way. I pray that God will keep those ties strong.
I look forward to this next few weeks as we have family come into town and as we go to the beach. Each year we get more free to go on adventures with the kids as they get bigger. I am realizing that my memory of what it was like to have littles is waning, and the future of big trips, big projects, and heavier work loads looms. It’ll be a tough school year, but I love that I am partnering with my big kids and seeing their gifts emerge. I love learning with them. I look forward to seeing their emotions bloom and remember that they themselves are figuring it out, I don’t have to tell them everything. Even if I did, the journey is important. I know it is for me.