Sunday, November 29, 2015

When Good Enough Doesn't Seem Like Enough

Mother and Child
by Gustav Klimt
ONE QUESTION"I'm having a sick day and told my 2yro a few times that I'm feeling sick and needed to lay down. Now she's downstairs with her dad telling him, "I sick. I sick," and laying down and wanting him to read her books. I know she's just playing, but I can't help but wonder: am I teaching my kid bad habits? Am I teaching her to... be lazy? ( Not that sick people are lazy of course, forgive the blunt honesty, but she does lay down whenever I have to, and the fact is, she doesn't have to. Am I teaching her to be active enough? ) " ~ Megan 

ONE ANSWER: "Now that my daughter is a little older she understands better that when Mommy doesn't feel well she can go play in the toy room or outside if it's nice. A lot of times she tries to do things to make me feel better, like bring me a drink. I think we are raising our children to be compassionate and understanding of others and their limitations. As your daughter gets older, I'm sure you will see this as well. It is hard when they are younger and need more attention, but you are not teaching her inactivity. Hang in there. It will get better." — Liz

* * *
"I have LEARNED in whatever situation I am to be CONTENT. I know how to be brought LOW, and I know how to abound. In any and EVERY circumstance, I have learned THE SECRET of facing plenty & hunger, abundance & need. I can do ALL THINGS through Him who strengthens me." (Phil. 4:11b-13)

* * *
On Thanksgiving night, I laid down with my two-year-old daughter to try and help her go to sleep. We'd all had a long day and we'd all eaten too much and stayed up too late and we all had tummy aches, so sleep didn't come easily to anyone. When Josie has trouble sleeping or isn't feeling well, she lays on her side facing me and I rub her arm slowly up and down, squeezing it a little as I go, but sometimes the best way to get her to nod off is to pretend I'm already asleep. That's what I was doing when I felt her small, warm hand start to rub my arm up and down, squeezing it a little as she went, pausing to touch my cheek and tuck my hair back behind my ear, exactly what I do for her when I think she's too sleepy to notice. I couldn't help but smile at the tenderness my child had learned from me without my even knowing I was teaching her anything at all (which of course put an end to the whole thing as it caused her to giggle and announce happily, "Mama wake up!")
Our kids absorb us just as we are:
the good & the bad,
the happy & the sad,
the sick & the well,
the kind & the mean,
the sinner & the saint.
Commercial Art
Artist Unknown

And that's okay because they need permission to be human, too, to make mistakes, to feel bad and be honest, to express how they're feeling constructively. How can they learn to show their anger in a healthy way if their mothers never show theirs at all? If their mothers show it in an unhealthy way, well then, they'll learn that, too. Our kids need a warm, safe place to live. They need us to take them to the doctor, give them food, clothes and baths. They need friends, toys and time to play, outside time, reading time, alone time, family time... They need love and security, church and school, sports, concerts, plays, recitals, museums, playgrounds, playgroups and all manner of things in order to grow into their full potential.

Potential: that unmappable, undefinable goal we all must strive
to fulfill even though no one, not even ourselves,
can tell us when we've attained it.

There are days when I can't do enough, especially around the holidays because there is so much to do, but that holiday night it dawned on me that even on those days, I can still BE enough. Maybe I can't be good enough to always fulfill my expectations (or potential, if you will) for who I ought to be as a Mom, but with God's help, I can be GOOD. And because Jesus was better than good, those obligatory Fill - In - the - Blank - Parenting - To-Do's - To - Help - Your - Child - Reach - His - or - Her - Full - Potential that we are forced to leave blank on our bad days are filled in for us and for our kids by Him. I can't take Josie to gymnastics this week? I know a friend who might be able to take her if I pluck up the courage and stomp down my pride long enough to ask for help.

And if my friend isn't available, we're still going to be okay because while I can't teach gymnastics, I can teach a whole bunch of other things without even trying, like how everyone's true "potential" (the kind that doesn't go away as soon we can't work or get out of bed or fail a subject) is already realized in Christ. So maybe we can relax a little bit and not beat ourselves up so much for causing our child to miss that gymnastics class or that story time or an hour at her favorite park because believe it or not, if all you can do is lie down with your daughter and rub her arm until she falls asleep, she notices. She notices your touch and your closeness and your presence, but above all, she notices your love, and all of that goodness becomes a part of her so that she can not only feel it when you're not there, but can show it to others when the time is right.

So remember: when good enough doesn't seem like enough, it's still GOOD. Let that be enough.
Commercial Art
Artist Unknown
"He HUMBLED you & let you hunger & FED you with manna [...] that He might make you KNOW that man does not live by BREAD ALONE, but man lives BY every WORD that comes from the mouth of the LORD.” (from Deuteronomy 8:3)
*For Liz and her wisdom., Which was there when I needed to hear it,
and in fervent prayer that the good Lord would always speak through our friends
when everyone else remains silent.