I went to a mom's meeting this week. They happen each month, and I truly love going, but.... Every month they have a speaker, and I basically always feel like I listen to the speaker tell me lots of things I should do, feel bad that I am not attaining these goals, decide I am definitely going to implement some tips, get home to the craziness of three kids three and under, then continue just making things work and doing what I have to do to get through the day. Tips usually get tossed out the window, and life continues in much the same manner.
This month promised to be a real winner: something about raising kids and technology. Awesome. I could go home feeling terrible that my 17-month-old can swipe my iPhone open and knows the names of multiple cartoon characters. We won't even mention that my 3-year-olds have learned to purchase shows on our latest device. But the lure of a home cooked breakfast and two hours sitting with other adult women won, and I showed up ready to enjoy my quiche while being chided about screen time.
God is resourceful. Even when you are in crazy times of life, when you're having trouble slowing down enough to even remember to pray, God is there waiting to encourage you. To love you. To show up. As this pregnancy winds along, I often feel like I am not mothering my other three precious ones well. I am tired. I can't just sit in the floor all day (unless a crane is coming later to pick me up when my legs fall asleep). I have to skip dinner or bedtime many days to just lie in bed and rest. In caring for our newest baby, there is of course a trade off for our older ones. Sure, I'm still the one with them all day. I'm still playing and reading and serving lunch and kissing boo-boos, but I know it's different right now.
Part of the speaker's talk was about success--how we all want our children to be successful. But then this: "How does your family define success? Your kids will learn how you define success by what you praise, what you talk about." Y'all. What a beautiful reminder. I tell Andrew at least three times a week that my greatest goal for our children is that they be kind. Whatever life path they choose, if they are kind to others, if they are empathetic, I will feel that they have achieved success. So if that's my goal for them, that's what my words and actions should focus on. That's where my praise should be. Yes, sure, when they draw a letter or glue the frog's eyes on in a place that's really close to the actual place a frog would have eyes, I tell them it's wonderful. When they hit the ball as we play softball in the playroom (bad idea), we get excited. But our truest praise, at least in our family, should be reserved for feats of character. For when they share, or help each other, or hug the one who fell down. If my goal for my children is kindness, I must exhibit kindness and recognize it in them. And that's something I can do no matter how large my belly grows.