Today all of my children went back to school. Our oldest child is now a sophomore in high school (eek!). Our middle child is beginning seventh grade and his first year of football (double eek!). And, our baby is starting fourth grade (sniffle.)
I have to confess that I've had my share (and probably your share too) of anxiety about school starting. My head has been filled with worries like, "Will they be able to handle their class load?" "Will they make new friends?" "Will they get hurt playing football?" But mostly, "Will they be happy?"
It seemed that the more I worried, the more the kids seemed unsure of themselves. Of course, I didn't notice that connection right away. It wasn't until a friend of mine pointed out how big my seventh grader was compared to some of the other boys who are playing football that I got a perspective check. After all, I didn't give birth to fragile blossoms. I gave birth to strong, healthy, vigorous, smart children. They can handle a lot more than I give them credit for. When I finally made that realization, my attitude changed. Suddenly, I saw that my son could handle football even if he wasn't a star athlete. It would be a good experience for him to try something new and challenging.
It was then that a funny thing happened. My son, who had been having reservations about football, began to get excited about it. He started seeing possibilities instead of obstacles. The more I said, "This is going to be great!" instead of, "Are you sure you want to play?", the more confident he became.
I've realized for a long time that, as a mother, I am the emotional barometer of our family. When I'm up, everybody seems to be more content (for the most part). When I'm stressed, so are the kids. As the saying goes, "When Mama ain't happy, ain't nobody happy." At times, this is a really hard role for me to play. Sometimes I don't want to be that much of an influence! There are times when I just want to keep my emotions to myself and go pout.
But, I know better. I know that, as a mother and wife, I have a huge amount of influence on my family. So, why do I keep forgetting that fact? Or, better yet, why doesn't that knowledge always translate into action? Am I forgetful? Am I weak? Am I lazy? Probably. But mostly, I'm perfectly imperfectly human. That must be why God keeps giving me this lesson to learn again and again. I think it's His way of keeping me looking outward to others and their feelings; of making me more sensitive and compassionate; of making me more careful with my thoughts and actions.
So, my new focus will be on how capable my children are. I'm going to do my best not to worry. I now believe that my kids will make new friends, they'll study hard, and they'll be happy if I'm happy with them. And I am!
Next up: Perfectly Imperfect!