I’m frozen in place because I was on the floor playing blocks with Bubby when he crawled over to my lap and fell asleep.
So this is why people recommend getting down on the floor with your kids to play at least once a day. I sure wouldn’t trade the experience of having this little boy asleep on my lap for anything else.
I don’t always act that way, though. I get distracted, I get busy, and I let my focus on things overcome my more intentional desire to be a hands on parent.
Last night I played Old Maid with the girls in the middle of our kitchen floor. That felt really good. It’s also the first time we’ve played Old Maid since our family vacation… last June, 11 months ago. I’ve let my fear of them bending the edges or losing the cards – a deck of cards I bought for 88¢ – keep me from investing 30 minutes of time in my children.
My parenting is a little like a string of beads – big dollops of memories strung together by skinny moments of just surviving. Consistency? Questionable.
Since I couldn’t move anyway, this afternoon I picked up Shepherding Your Child’s Heart by Tedd Tripp. It’s been on my to do reading list for at least three years, and it happened to be in arms reach from my spot on the floor.
I’ve only made it through the introduction and Chapter 1 so far, but I’ve gotten a nugget that has made me pause and ponder long enough for my bottom to go completely numb:
“The purpose for your authority in the lives of your children is not to hold them under your power, but to empower them to be self-controlled people living freely under the authority of God…
Parents who are “benevolent despots” do not usually find their children racing to leave home. Children rarely run from a home where their needs are met. Who would want to walk out on a relationship in which he feels loved and respected?”
It stopped me in my tracks because I agree with this sentiment – and I don’t think I’m parenting this way. Words like “empowered,” “self-controlled,” “loved,” and “respected” aren’t what come to mind when I replay the last week in our home – or even the last four hours!
Somehow the magical infatuation that flooded me when each of these children was born has worn way into an endless struggle of dirty clothes, messy bedrooms and wooden blocks placed at just the right location to permanently maim you as you walk through the living room.
Yes – parenting is about the basics, like food, clothing and shelter. But it’s also about the intrinsic and invisible. It’s about taking the time to hold a baby boy because he wants to be on your lap, about looking for the Old Maid or jumping on the trampoline with the full knowledge there’s a time coming when they won’t ask anymore if they’ve learned you always say, “No.”
Life has got to be about more than a constant struggle with a messy house. Or a job or unattainable dreams. It’s got to be about paying attention and finding joy and purpose RIGHT HERE.
Here’s for a re-commitment to loving, empowering, and respecting my children into a self-controlled adulthood… as best as I can.