Then God said: Let the earth bring forth vegetation: every kind of plant that bears seed and every kind of fruit tree on earth that bears fruit with its seed in it. Genesis 1:11
I’ve often said I don’t suffer much from mother’s guilt. On the one hand, that’s good: I don’t needlessly beat myself up for things that roll off my kids’ backs. On the other hand, some mother’s guilt is healthy; it creates very important checks and balances.
An appropriate amount of guilt makes us routinely question whether our approach with our kids is working. If it’s not, hopefully that guilt motivates us to make the necessary changes. That’s how we’ll successfully raise well rounded kids.
Ironically enough, I’ve been suffering from some mother’s guilt lately.
I know my kids are only little for a short while. As a chronic overachiever, I am trying to teach them something during every moment of every day, while they’re still young enough to listen to me.
God only created vegetation with its seed already in it. That way, each plant would live on. Likewise, I’m trying to take the same approach and capitalize on every single solitary thing that happens in our household, good or bad, to plant lesson-seeds in my kids, hoping those lessons will take root and live on.
But I’m exhausted. The constant watching, and critiquing, and teaching, is wearing me thin. I think my kids feel the same way. They seem bruised and battered from me constantly digging into their little psyches, cramming those lesson-seeds down their throats, and ripping out weeds they didn’t even know were inside of them.
Genesis talks about how God created for six days, and then rested on the seventh. That rest is called Sabbath. I think it’s not only time to reclaim my Sabbath, but I need to help my kids reclaim theirs as well. We’re all desperate for a rest.
Additionally, after each day of creation, God looked back over what He did and called it “good.” Like Him, I want to create the time and space with each of my kids where we can look back on how “good” they are. I want to highlight and celebrate their outward accomplishments, and their inner growth.
Years ago, my friend Kellie told me about her “skip days” with her kids. Randomly, throughout the school year, she holds one of her kids back from boarding the school bus in the morning. She whispers, “Today’s your day!” Together, just the two of them, they spend the entire day doing anything the child wants.
From the moment she told me this, I’ve been putting it in my calendar to do the same. But every time the scheduled days rolled around, there was always something else that took priority. As I never told my kids about them, and therefore wasn’t disappointing them, I kept postponing and postponing them. It has literally been years; and I have yet to do it once. Now that Jocelyn is in full-day school, there really are no more excuses. It’s time for my own version of skip days.
Yesterday, Mason and I had our first “Sabbath Skip Day.” Working for my husband in the morning meant it couldn’t be a full day, but I think our quality half-day was just as good. I dismissed Mason from school at noon. He didn’t have a clue why.
It was so much fun surprising him, and watching him absorb the skip day concept. As we sat in a restaurant booth eating lunch, he never once stopped bouncing up and down. When I told him the next couple of hours were his to plan, for just the two of us, he got a delirious and dazed look in his eyes. It made me wonder what was so important over the years, causing me to postpone this moment. One of my biggest priorities in life was sitting right across from me; yet I had been too preoccupied with other things to give him 100% of my time and attention. Silly, silly me.
It’s never too late though, especially with kids. When we went bowling, it was all about him. When we went for a walk on the rail trail, I went on and on about all the things that were so amazing about him. I even pulled out a list I had made in advance so I wouldn’t forget to tell him one single thing that made him so special. He soaked it all up like a plant desperate for water; I soaked him up, appreciating him more than I ever have.
Just about everything we do with our kids does plant seeds. Despite my lack of mother’s guilt, the day in, day out rhythm and tone in my household either waters or starves them. When I stop and look, it really is obvious: the more I yell, the more they yell at each other. The more patient I am, the more patient they try to become.
Breaking that rhythm for a Sabbath Skip Day is the best fertilizer I have ever found. It feeds all the good in our kids’ souls, causing them to grow a foot taller, in all the right ways. As a bonus, it starves their negative traits, causing them to shrink into the background, far from sight.
Questions For Reflection:
* Do I capitalize on the moments of the day with my kids, turning them into teaching moments?
* If so, do I do it in moderation? Or have I become too critical?
* Do I ever have an opportunity to spend one-on-one time with each of my kids, to water their souls?
* If not, can I somehow create those opportunities?