If I'm being completely honest, raising children is more difficult that I expected it would be. The care and feeding of children I'm really good at. I got plenty of practice with my siblings, babysitting in high school and nannying during college. In my opinion, that is easy, and very fulfilling.
But raising children is so much more than caring for their physical needs. I want to raise children who embody Matthew 22:36-40; who love God, love themselve and love others. It can kinda be boiled down to that, can't it?
This. Is hard. The balance of discipline and grace. Of tough love and compassion. Determining what is childish and what is disobedience. Letting kids be kids but also teaching them to obey and be respectful. For instance, what do you do when an adult is purposefully egging on your intense child? When that child responds in like manner to that adult, where's the line between respect and standing up for themselves?
I feel like I'm winging it a lot of the time. I worry about not being consistent and the effect it has on my children. There are so many things I would like to do on a regular basis to help in shaping their soul. But life usually gets in the way, and those planned things don't often happen. Of course I often hear wonderful reports about my children and their behavior when they are away from home. But at home, we deal with the brunt of their human nature. And it ain't pretty.
Then there are days like yesterday. When I get a glimpse of who my children are becoming and I breath a small sigh of relief.
I realize I am 100% biased, but my daughters are beautiful. They truly are. And when I get the opportunity to enhance their natural beauty, the result is stunning.
They were beautiful in a special wedding yesterday. A good friend from church got married, who has been babysitting for us since Miss Rose was one year old. In fact, she stayed with our girls last year when I went in early for my c-section. She was probably the first non-relative person we left both Gracie and Lily with. She adores my girls and they adore her.
Here's the true beauty of the day though.
It was a long day. I tried putting Gracie down early for a short nap, but she just played. We arrived at the church and got dressed. And as it is with all weddings, lots of waiting for photographs before and after the ceremony, and waiting for the bride and groom to arrive at the reception.
But my girls, behaved so beautifully. Sure, they were kids. They were running around after the ceremony, so they probably have the sheen of sweat on their brow and very flushed cheeks. I told them more than once to stop running. Gracie even ran into a pew, cried for a while, then returned to running. They spent a lot of time at the reception under the tables. What better fun is going under a table with a floor-length tablecloth?
And if you've read my blog for long, you know that Miss Rose is as "tomboy" as they come. Wearing a formal dress with her hair up in a clip, tights and dress shoes, is not her idea of fun. (Gracie on the other hand, was in seventh heaven again. She was quite disappointed to walk into church this morning and see all the wedding fan-fare gone.) But Miss Rose had a wonderful attitude and seemed to understand how special this was. Although she couldn't wait to get her tights off after their entrance at the reception!
They walked down the isle perfectly. They smiled beautifully in every photo. They received compliments with grace.
Even though they were tired and often hungry, they listened and obeyed. There was minimal complaining and no whining. They were polite and respectful. I only had to give one time out.
The beauty inside of them shone through yesterday. Their outer beauty was just icing on the cake.
And for the first time in a while, I thought, maybe we are doing some of this right.