One of the best things about being a parent is learning alongside children. Starting back at the very basics and building from there. The continued education of James and Caroline began the day the test had two lines.
With Madison in my tummy, her Daddy and I began to research and read like never before. We were about to be responsible for a miracle called: life. One of my favorite pictures shows James sitting Indian style on our bed reading a children’s book. On first glance, it looks like he is reading to himself. You really have to search to find the brand new baby (maybe three days old) sleeping among the covers to know the book is not for his own enjoyment.
One of my favorite traditions is, every year for Christmas, buying Madison a new Bible. We started with Children’s Bibles like The Big Picture Storybook, The Jesus Storybook Bible, I Can Read Bible, The Child’s Story Bible by Catherine Vos, and other jewels. With her Daddy reading every night, she has read through the Bible several times moving up to an NIRV Bible. Guess what that means? It means James and I have been more consistent in our devotions than ever before.
And when Madison wants to know why Evergreen Trees don’t turn brown, and every single thing about every single animal, and how to make origami, and where all the fifty states are located and who all the presidents were, and why doggies don’t get married. Guess what that means? It means that Momma learns them also!
Recently, my little Renaissance girl wanted to learn to sew. So, (haha. Homophone)…so, her Daddy and I purchased a sewing machine for her birthday. You should have seen James and I trying to figure it out. But we did! And Madison and I spent one of our Spring Break days purchasing fabric and making a travel laundry bag, couch pillows, and her new very favorite stuffed bunny. I can sew! And that is one of the very small ways that having a daughter has made me a better person.
Being a mother, gazing into the eyes of a precious little girl with a curious mind, has taught me something I should have known before I was a mother. Knowledge may be power, but LEARNING IS JOY.
“Those that can not do, teach.” That has been the cop out of my life. I have a degree in elementary education and teaching experience in a million different ways under my belt, but I have most been a teacher as a mom. Why, oh why, like the Apostle Paul, can I teach without doing it myself? I am the biggest of hypocrites! Here is a list of the things that I teach my young daughter that I have not yet learned myself:
1. Be YOURSELF! This is such an old, feel good saying but it is so true! I look at my daughter and she is so amazingly beautiful inside and out and she is trying to figure out who she is and she struggles with learning her own identity and I want so much for her to just be herself! She loves animals. She knows so much about them. There is not a single animal in this whole world that she does not find interesting, and yet, she has learned that some people find many of them gross. I have seen her pretend to be scared of a spider and I want to say to her, “BE YOURSELF!” but it is something that she has to learn. I can not learn this for her. But as I guide her in the journey of discovering herself, I see that just now, in my thirties I am learning who I am. Who am I? I am a child of God. This is the most important thing about me. I do not really care if that offends you because it is me and it is right. I am a writer. Oh, how I love to write. How many writings I tossed because I did not think they amounted to anything. I love coffee. Lots of it. Black. I love chocolate. Dark chocolate. 90% cocoa. Where have you been my whole life? I am a wife. I love my husband. So much. I do not deserve him. He is amazing. We are one. I am a mother. Thank God. I am a mother. It is a miracle. I am an introvert. This is ok. Sometimes, ok, a lot of times, I just want to be by myself.
2. Everyone makes mistakes. Everyone makes mistakes. What matters is if you learn from it. My adorable little girl will trip in public and the first thing she does is look around to see who saw her. IT DOES NOT MATTER WHAT ANYONE ELSE THINKS! I tell her this over and over. You will make mistakes. It is ok. It really is ok. Admit it. Say sorry, if needed. Then move on and forget it. Why can I not do this myself? Why do I dwell on it for so long? I wonder what people think about me all the time. Why can I not learn from it and move on?
3. Do NOT do something to make yourself happy. Do what is right and it will give you JOY. That is so much better! “Sweetie, pick a healthy snack.” “Let’s get some exercise.” “Introduce yourself.” “Say sorry.” Sometimes, oh so often, things are hard. Life can just be hard. But do not approach any situation to make yourself happy, approach the situation doing what is right.
4. Jesus has never failed me. The church has. Christians have. Family has. Security has. Money has. People have. But Jesus has never failed me. Ever.
5. A million billion other things. I am still learning every day. It is an incredible, immense blessing to be a mother. I am thankful for my daughter every single day. I always knew I would love her. I always knew I would take care of her. I never ever knew how much I would learn from her! Thank you Jesus!