Packing and Half-grown ones, Selfishness or Love?

Today could be a treacherous day for our family.  It is day two of packing.  Now, when the kids were small, this was actually no big deal at all.  I’m fairly organized in things like packing, but now that my wee ones are half grown, we all have different ideas about what packing entails.  I like to add cleaning day to the packing day because who really wants to come home to a messy house?  NOT ME!!  Anyway, I have been sitting here, reading my Bible and drinking my coffee trying to calm my heart before the day proceeds to quickly not go my way.  How do I know this?  Well, let’s just say that yesterday the complete disorganized, messy and S L O W packing of one of mine made my hair stand on end.  Not only that, but this one had about 100 clothing items scattered throughout the main room where laundry and other packing was going on.  I mean, this took up the WHOLE room and enacted in me the clutter panic.  Clutter panic is that feeling that mess is overtaking your life and you will not get done what you were hoping to.  I feel it’s similar to an evil, laughing clown.  It’s also a  little like a video game – race around the room and try to pick up faster than things are being spread all over.  I hate that game and it is the one that is most likely to bring out a response that I have to apologize for later.  I love clutter free, breezy rooms and organized packing.  My people do not and they just won’t cooperate with me.  One of mine informed me to not worry because it would all get done.  Umm… not if you keep messing around half grown one.  We will NOT be ready to go.  What you are really saying is that little magic fairy will show up and magically pack us and get everything done.  See half grown one?  I am little magic fairy and I am saying that unless we get a move on things, we will NOT be ready to go.  See how the day goes downhill rather quickly on days like this? In fact, half grown one has just informed me now (and wanted me to put it in this exact part of the blog) that he was actually right since I have time to be blogging right now. Sometimes half grown ones should keep their mouths shut. (Probably full grown ones should also keep their mouths shut) but I think half-grown one may be right in this case

I used to think when the kids were little, “When they get older, I will…”  What I was really saying in not so obvious words was, “When the kids get older, I will get my way again on a daily basis.” What I failed to take into account (and this is a serious fail) that these smart little human beings would develop into bigger people who have their own ideas about what each day should hold.  Isn’t that what we want?  Kids who are growing into adults and are actively thinking?  It is and that is important, but the part I failed to take into account is that maybe their own ideas would also come up against my own ideas.  I more was thinking their own ideas should be the same as mine, so what I was imagining was more like ‘our own ideas.’ They don’t get to dictate the days or run the house, but they definitely do have opinions about a lot.  A whole lot.  They all have ideas about how our days should go. Things don’t fit very neatly into perfect little toddler schedules right now (I know that is a funny thought, but for the most part you have nap time, bed time and those kinds of things – other than that it’s one for all and all for one)

When the kids were young, as all moms do, I learned that I had a lot of selfishness that needed to be overcome.  As moms, we don’t HAVE to learn that though.  We HAVE to feed the baby, change the diaper, get up in the night, clean up the spilled mess and all of those urgent things.  Those are not optional, but what is optional is our attitude.  We can serve out of love or out of necessity.  I did both on a regular basis.  Through those years, I learned how to give up things that I never knew I’d have to give up like going to the bathroom for 30 seconds by myself, being able to think two cohesive thoughts in a row, reading, taking a shower when I needed one etc etc etc, but do you know what I gained?  I gained good relationships with my people and a closeness I didn’t know was possible among human beings.  In those days, I sometimes couldn’t see that I was planting and planting, but now the garden is half-grown and I am seeing beautiful things.  That is not to say there aren’t weeds or things that were planted that we are now yanking out, but it’s an opportunity to let the kids learn to tend to their heart – even those things that were mistakenly planted by us in our humaness because of immaturity or brokeness in us.  Let’s face it – all of us will do things or mistakenly teach things because of the rough edges in us that are not transformed yet, but they can become learning opportunities.  We’ve had many conversations with our kids about mistakes we’ve made and what we’ve seen it produce in them or in our relationships.  You can see these places clearly as they grow, whether it be anger, extreme sensitivity about something, stand offishness etc, etc, etc. They have always responded so well and it’s been a path for healing for them as well as helped keep relationships healthy.  Let this encourage all you young moms out there!  You will not be perfect, but those difficult things can become wrungs in the ladder toward growth, authenticity and a true relationship with God.  We are not leading our kids to us, but to a perfect Father, Who knows their hearts.  If we know Him, He will give us wisdom in how to do this.  Having said that, it is so important that the overall tone of our homes are love and sacrifice, but the only way for that to be is for selfishness to go.  Believe me!  That is way easier said than done.  Selfishness and love cannot live in the same place very well.

That brings me to now.  I am beginning to see that it was hilarious that I would go on my merry way when the kids got older with them happily going along.  I TOTALLY forgot that they would still have opinions, desires and needs.  I know that’s shocking that I forgot that, but I think I saw people walking around with their teenagers with BOTH hands free and no one screaming about fruit snacks in an aisle next to a parenting class teacher.  Instead, the teens were HELPING with the grocery shopping and loading the groceries.  In my toddler mom mind, this was ultimate freedom as I would stick one foot on the bottom of the cart so that it would stay as I loaded three or four into carseats.

Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE these years, but I am learning I have a new level of selfishness in me.  The sacred bedtime has now turned into counseling or just straight up talking about everything under the sun time.  Remember how I’m a verbal processor?  Well, it seems that I have reproduced that rather well to all of the kids.  POOR JOHN, this is a pretty hard thing for a guy who is a silent processor.  He really does deserve accolades because he listens well and actually responds.  This means he is not just tuning out.  Anyway, after about 8:30, I am done.  I think it is still trained from the toddler years and the 8:30 bedtime.  My mind is turning off for the night, but my half grown ones begin the verbal processing that I passed onto them.  I could send them on their way for some ‘me time’ but I know that you send these ones away, they may stop coming.  Not worth it.  Not worth it at all.  I had always dreamed of kids who would talk their heart out with me – they do, but just not on my time.  There are a million things like this.

I have always dreamed of crafty, innovative kids.  I have them.  When they were young the mess was contained to the craft I wanted to do in MY time.  I could lock craft things away and then was in control of the how long the mess stayed out.  Now, my one who does not share my hatred for clutter, is a craft addict.  This one crafts and crafts and crafts, but has a very hard time remembering to pick up.  Stuff eventually gets picked up, but not at all how I want it picked up.  It’s more like it gets scooted to the edges.  Not only that, but this one works on the same craft for days, so my laundry/craft room is one big disaster and I often find paper in my laundry.  I really love this and always have endearing thoughts toward Crafty One when this happens.  One does experiments and also loves to fix things.  This one gets superglue on the counter, leaves fishtanks full of water in random places and tapes tablecloths to my laundry room window. I do not like this.  I think it’s annoying.  One of mine loves animals and is constantly asking for more and more and more pets.  He always wants to go to the pet store when there is ANY blank space in our day and is always coming up with new cages and habitats.  If it were up to me, houses would be for people and pets would be, well, I don’t know, but not at my house.  Word to the wise, hermit crabs can escape even cages with lids.  My little one has overtaken my quiet time in the morning.  He faithfully sets his alarm and listens to the morning trivia show and then comes down to relay the question and every.single.person’s guesses.  This has not been particularly conducive to having the kinds of quiet times I’m used to, but I think he’s learning and do you know what?  God can speak louder than the little one.  I have found some of my sweetest times with God to be this year with this guy by my side.  He has even decided to stack his Bible and journal on top of mine next to my favorite chair.

Half grown-one's suitcase. Probably won't close, but whatever. Little one's Bible and notebook by mine.
Half grown-one’s suitcase. Probably won’t close, but whatever. Little one’s Bible and notebook by mine.

Before you think I’m all amazing or something, I did ask for a chair for our bedroom for Christmas.  I just can’t bear to send him away when he sees me sitting in my chair.  In fact, I may have to have a pre-quiet time and then a second reading time or something.  This time has become quite special to us.  I also know that our fourteen year old wouldn’t be caught dead sitting in my chair with me.  He’d probably smash me anyway. I need to enjoy these days while they’re here.

In my mind, I know I don’t have time to waste being selfish – it’s just living that way in the small things that can be so hard.  I desperately need God to give me His heart and perspective on my day.  So I guess, this is my pep talk for myself before my day gets going.  I know that there is a very high probability that I am going to have to make a decision about whether I will keep my small and selfish perspective while packing.  Am I going to run around like a crazy woman and demand all things to be done MY way today? That always makes the first part of the car trip a blast.  “Okay guys!  Happy family on vacation!” Or am I going to lay down things having to be done exactly my way and allow people some space to do things how they do them and maybe not have to have the house in perfect magazine mode before we go?  Am I okay with my half-grown ones being them? Today, do I choose selfishness or love?  I’m choosing love.  I’ll let you know how that goes 🙂

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