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Parenting -

Archive for the ‘Parenting’ Category

Father for the Fatherless

Father’s Day finds us again. Just us. My man, our children, his favorite pie, a new atlas for the perpetual explorer, a pile of handmade cards reflecting varying degrees of ability and all slathered with love for him.

No other father shares the pie, not his, not mine.

One was carried too soon away; one walked too easily of his own accord. One left memories, the other scars.

I watch my girls with their father, and I smile, and I cry.

There is something beautiful, something touching, something indescribable and wonderful about a father who loves his girls.

There is a hidden blessing in the casual way they take him for granted, knowing he will come home, knowing he will sit at the head of the table, knowing he will lead his family in prayer, knowing he will set them back on the path when they stray, never doubting, never questioning, just knowing.

And I smile, and I envy, and I praise God for him on his day, every day.

And when I miss what might have been, and long for what will be, I remember that, although He takes no pie, my Father is here, loving, leading, setting me back on His path. There is something beautiful in just knowing.

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Super Strong Muscle Boy

Mother and Son

I recently attended my youngest brother’s wedding. I’m not generally the tearing up type, at least when not pregnant. (If you’ve been pregnant, you know there’s no getting through the touching coffee commercials at Christmas without turning into a blubbering pile of sap. Please tell me it’s not just me. It’s okay to lie…just a little…just this once.)

When I saw my mother dancing the mother-son dance with my brother, the groom, I had a simultaneous flashback/flash-forward experience. (It’s similar to having a split personality juxtaposed on some inverted space-time continuum. Don’t try to figure it out. Nod and smile. Nod and smile.)

I remember when my little brother was, well, little, my darling little tag-along. Now he’s 6’4″ and married and living in NYC doing things like operating a power drill and buying his own groceries. He probably even has a job, although being a musician, I’m never entirely sure. When did he learn to tie his shoes?

And now I have another precious little tag-along, my own little man. He’s still shorter than I am. His power drill runs on batteries and only tickles when he drills his little sister’s forehead. He helps push the cart at the grocery store, which is still as exciting as getting a driver’s license, and his job is making his bed and cleaning the music room for a dollar a month. His musical opus is belting out “Do, a deer, a female deer,” and most of his shoes have velcro. He seems so…young, and the future seems so…distant. But I know better.

At the wedding, while my mother swayed across the floor in the arms of her youngest son, I saw myself in 20-some years dancing that dance as the mother of the groom and then the music ends and I hand those big brown eyes and intoxicating smile and spontaneous affections (not to mention the results of endless hours of training) over to his new bride. I would have hugged my little man a bit too tightly and not let him go had he been there, but he wasn’t, and I had to wait all too long to get back to him. When I did, he got an extra long squeeze and a handful of half-melted M&Ms I had saved especially for him. (They really do melt in your hands. Who knew?)

Too soon the little man in the toddler bed in my bedroom will be a husband, a father, a man, and I will be proud and pleased, but I will always miss the little person he is right now, my very own promise of how great a man can really be.

And I savor the moments and the memories and the words.

Words like these:

“My nickname is Super Fast Muscle Boy, but you can just call me Boy.”

I’ve been bragging about those muscles for four years now. Wow, can that boy carry groceries for his Mama. Won’t the future Mrs. Super Fast Muscle Boy love that?

And won’t she love His heavenly focus?

“God never has to knock on doors, Mommy, because God is everywhere!”

So true, my Boy. And yet, so many closed doors. Perhaps God will use him to open a few.

“I love God, and I love both my grown-ups. Do you love God, too? And do you love me, too?”

Do we ever! And forever!

I leave you with this little family adventure from a couple night’s past, brought to you by Super Fast Muscle Boy:

“Mommy, can you please help me get this popcorn kernel out of my nose?”

Sure, Super Fast But Slightly Short on Common Sense Muscle Boy. Anything for you!

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Charm, Beauty, and a Future Man

October 2009 142The sun warms them. They play, as small children do, in an imaginary world bigger than their own, inspired by the lure of the few simple objects in front of them. I love how children–some–can make a world out of a stone, a stick, a small beetle passing by. I pity those who cannot.

I watch closely, knowing human nature, noticing the trend, wanting the truth. I am right.

Bored with her own, she takes his toy. He asks for it back, nicely, as trained. She says no and that it’s hers. He asks for it back, not so nicely, training slipping. She sits on it, her stare daring him. He screams, training gone. I’ve seen this before, throughout the afternoon. It’s what comes next I wonder about–the knowing.

Her mother: “Well, he sure is emotional.” She and her husband exchange looks, their parenting skills once again proving superior. The knowing I seek is not there.

I want to tell her. I want to say that her angelic baby has been pushing him and testing him and trying him and manipulating him. I want to tell her that he is a fallible human being, a man-to-be, yet in the making. I want to assure her that we are aware of his weakness and are training. I want to tell her a lot of things, not the least of which is the danger growing in the heart of her daughter.

But I don’t.

“My son,” I confess, “needs a little more training.” An understated truth.

I rise to go to him. The movement startles the angelic girl, who hastily shoves the toy back at my boy, now sobbing, over-reacting, broken over the treachery of a pretty girl. She looks at me, faux-innocence on her face. I look back, knowing on mine.

“Come, Elijah.”

I take his hand and we go, he not wanting to because he is (sniff) havin’ (whimper) fun (sob).

There is more training to do. Training in how to respond when the nice does not work, training in Christ-like behavior, training in letting go, especially when life is not fair.

There is much more training to do. Training in what–and Whom– to look for in the heart of a woman.

Charm is deceitful and beauty is fleeting, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.

My daughters know it, recite it, try (though fail, as does their mother) to emulate it. Now he, not yet four, must know it too.

Lord, grant eyes that see where my children need Your guidance, wisdom to lead them to Your Word, and a strong jaw to bite my tongue in a blind world. Make me–despite all–an example to my children. Give my children Godly friends, and prepare for them Godly spouses with hearts directed toward You. Perhaps strangers to us now, prepare their hearts and ours in Your ways. Guard hearts, guide footsteps, and let all feel Your arms holding us close. In Christ, Amen, let it be so.

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