When we were "home" (in my hometown) for Christmas, I asked my mom and a few of my aunts who all had 4(+) kids, what they wish they would have known as young mothers with several small children.
Two responses that resonated with me went something like this:
"I wish that I would have cared less about how neat my home was. No one really cared but me and I was always stressed out trying to keep it that way. It consumed way too much of my time. If I could do it differently, I would have played with and enjoyed them more rather than spending so much time on a clean house."
Yep. That response made my stomach hurt. I wish I could tattoo that wisdom to the inside of my forearm. Maybe after looking at it 95,340 times I'd actually heed that message. I mean, really. Who do I try to keep this home so clean for, anyway? Charlie can operate in a messier house than I can--he does not even see the mess that I do...and my kids don't notice either. I guess that just leaves me. I've acted like a major jerk to these people that I love so much all in the name of serving Jesus and my family by trying to keep my house clean. I'm pretty awesome.
"I wish I would have learned how to 'let go' a bit more with my children--and by that I mean, I wish I wouldn't have tried to control them so much. It didn't really matter if they weren't wearing the 'right shoes with that outfit' to the grocery store...you know, silly things like that. Too often I was more worried about how their appearance might negatively reflect on me than allowing them to be the silly kids I adored."
Again, such good wisdom here. I admit it: I'm a recovering control freak (which may have a bit to do with the first issue above.) But why am I not most concerned about their character or simply delighting in them rather than worrying about their appearance?
How ridiculous I've been. And, when I come to think of it, both "issues" seem to be rooted in keeping up some appearance: I'm a really great wife/mom if I can: (a) keep my house looking like a Pottery Barn magazine. (b) present perfectly well groomed, matching, put-together children that essentially look like GapKids models. I know how foolish that sounds when I put it like that...
So, yesterday my "shopping-girl buddy" (she makes sure I add "girl" every time b/c buddy alone apparently sounds too masculine for my dainty little companion) joined me on several errands yesterday. As we were about to walk out the door, she insisted that I let her wear her Snow White dress-up gown. I selfishly cringed inside, but before I could
I think that one act of giving up some control really knit our hearts together in a new way. We had a delightful afternoon. Both of us. Together. Really enjoying each other. She lit up each time I referred to her as "Your Majesty" and the princess was given much attention throughout each store we visited. Most people (elderly men, especially) commented on her dress and knew exactly "who" she was. On our first stop, Kroger, she received a plethora of stickers from the bagger for her royal cuteness. "Mommy, I don't want this on my dress. I want them on my body..." Can you believe something as silly as putting stickers anywhere else but the top of your chest/shoulder region used to bother me? I mean like really bother me. Me neither. How ridiculous. So, I relented and went with the theme of "letting go" and 15 minutes later at the next store, she told me they were too itchy and she was done with them.
By the end of our trip, I decided that costume wearing may just need to be mandatory on all future errand-running. Best behavior and costumes seemed to have some sort of a positive correlation.
I caught this sweet clip of my girl singing her newest favorite song, 10,000 Reasons (what she refers to as"Bless the Lord") as we pulled into the driveway from our trip. What a perfect theme song for all that He's teaching me through motherhood: