Family photo 2013

Family photo 2013

Friday, December 13, 2013

Learning to let the children be children.

As I sat in the chair at the dentist's office last week he asked me if I clench my teeth at night while I sleep. Perhaps I wake up with a sore jaw?

Oh. Well, no. Actually, my jaw is fine as frog hair first thing in the morning. It's as I go throughout my day that it gets sore. I am a daytime clencher. Seven children will do that to a poor woman's mouth.

Sometimes, as I write here or post highly processed, edited, chopped and filtered pictures of our daily events, I fear only one side of the story of our lives is told. The angle that is delightful and charming and lovely to look upon may get better representation than the honest, less than pretty reality of our experience. 

It's such a fine line, yes? Endeavoring to document the days and decades of your life in an uplifting and encouraging tone, yet with truthfulness for the genuine struggles of the moments that tumble into weeks and eventually make up the whole of our lives. I don't want to be a Debbie Downer. But I don't care to come across as a Pollyanna (Soooooo NOT true to who I am! Right, kids?) or Fake Francesca either. 

As you can imagine, like any mom with a slew of charges under her guidance, I am regularly asked how/why I do what I do. 

People, let me tell you the truth. More often than not I do it the hard way. Through no shortage of toil and strain and stress and fatigue and drama and trauma and apologies and correction, correction, correction. The never ending correction that colors our every day. Both of myself and of them. 

We are a rotten little band of dimwits, the whole lot of us Deutsches.

The thing I am ever working, working, working on as I am surrounded by young people is to remember is that children will be children. They will behave like children. The Good Lord wasn't kidding when He said foolishness was bound in their hearts. It is. {And the amen chorus resounds...} 

When you are raising up children, there will be bickering and squabbles and blunders and messes and mishaps and lost shoes and missing homework and missing socks and missing watches and missing everything only to become long lost in the Great Hole of Oblivion never to be found again. They will spill their drinks and shatter their mason jar cups and leave crumbs all over the car and hide their wrappers under the couch and cause you to run late for just about every single thing. They will drag themselves to bed like snails, suddenly thirstier than if they had spent the entire day in the Sahara, yet race like leopards out of the house when it's time to go play. They will become distracted by the slightest thing. They forget. Oh, how they forget. Needing to be told and reminded over and over until each day eerily resembles Groundhog's. They will talk when they should be quiet and be quiet when asked to talk. They will eat you out of house and home all day long and refuse their healthy dinners. They will repeat jokes long after the humor has expired. They will find potty humor most hilarious, especially while eating at the table. They will shout over each other just to be heard and mumble when asked to speak up. They will cry and whine and moan and complain and tarnish a perfectly wonderful vacation with ungrateful attitudes. They will avoid labor at any cost and expend extraordinary effort to get away with doing only half of what is expected then muster the commitment to build elaborate 4-hours-in-the-making ships from tiny little legos. Sometimes, they will lie. Some of them will lie while looking you in the eye with mind boggling frequency. They will embarrass their parents in public, keep them up at night with concern, stretch their supposed knowledge, beckoning an ever expanding perspective, and empty their patience. They will see you as an extension of themselves, their beck and call servant, taking years to recognize you are, in fact, an individual person of your very own. They will take and they will take and they will take and teaching them to give and give and give will be a hard earned process. They will age their moms and dads, turning their once youthful idealism into well worn experiential wisdom. They will weary them with repetitiveness. They will collide with their folks, giving them little credit for knowing much of anything at all. In some aspects, their parents will attest, it is true. 

They will also relish the exact moment they find themselves in and laugh with abandon and playfulness will fuel their ambition. They will spin in circles and swing on swings and roll in grass and build snowmen with carrot noses and hug your neck so tightly it will melt even the coldest parts of your heart into a drippy warm puddle. They will run and bound and leap and freely forgive and demonstrate the meaning of the purest love human beings can summon. They will expand your desire to be good, to do good, to show honor and humanity and kindness. They will share their uncontaminated joy with you and offer the most effusive, tenderest affection you have ever known. They will humble you with their generosity. They will make art and ask you to look, look, look at each thing they do. They will demand your attention, your time, your energy, your presence. 

And you will determine you must set yourself aside and give it to them. You remind yourself as often as it takes that soon enough, this will all be over and they will trade youthfulness in to become be big like you. The flurry of activity will fade, the noise will quiet, the children will no longer be children. And though it is hard, you really don't want to miss a thing. You'd rather keep discovering what is necessary to live in harmony with the fleeting beauty of the essence of childhood.

That's what I tell myself anyway...


Mandy said...

Gosh, tisha, I just love you!

Emily said...

ahhhh so true... love your writing..... glad to know your house has a black hole as well :) our sucks up important objects on a daily basis-- except for the dust under the couch-- it always leaves that;/

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