Tuesday, April 5, 2011

What Every Child Needs to Hear

When I found out was pregnant with Elliot, I was scared out of my mind! I wasn't scared that I would be a bad mother or that I would make mistakes sometimes or that he wouldn't turn out the way I hoped or anything like that. I was scared that I would just kind of be an okay mom, that he would know he was loved but he would have to remind himself of that, that I wouldn't understand what he needed from me so I wouldn't be able to give it to him. Things like that.
It scared me even more when I found out he was a boy! I knew what truth a little girl needed spoken into her life, I knew how and what I would teach her about strength and faith and femininity, I knew what to tell Evan to do too (at least I thought I did). But...a boy? What truth does a boy need to hear spoken by his mother into his life? What do I need to teach him about strength and faith and masculinity? I was so scared I would fail. Not fail miserably, but fail by just kind of making it work.
I've learned a lot in the last 2 1/2 years and God has provided me with the knowledge I need to raise my son one step at a time, consistently showing His ever-present grace in my life. I know now the truth that he needs spoken into his life. He is loved, special, valuable, handsome, brave, strong, and smart. He is a little warrior and poet and prince. "God is love (1 John 4:8)" and he is a "fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14)."
Confession - I'm not good with kids. I haven't really ever been. At least not children under the age of like 16. However, having Elliot in has changed a few things in me. I'm still a bit awkward around other children, but I pay attention to them more. I pay attention to their body language and their spirit and their needs. I am especially observant of little boys. How society and parents and other influences shape them, encourage them, or scold them with their expectations. And can I tell you? Most of the time it breaks my heart!
I was in line today at Walmart and in front of me was a mom with a baby in the cart that was maybe 9 months old and she had a little boy that looked like he was about 3 1/2 or 4. He was sitting on the floor playing with an Etch-a-Sketch and his mom gently told him to come over by her. He set the toy down, willingly obeyed and stood next to her cart. He asked her a question, something like, "Mommy, can I have some of that food?" She laughed and said to the cashier, "Such a typical male isn't he?" They laughed together. The little boy just looked away. Not particularly hurt, but not really feeling anything else either. His mom continued, "Yeah, he's already got the selective hearing going too. Men!" Chuckles ensued and the boy waited patiently for his mother to check out.
I wanted to shout so everyone could hear and at the same time look intently into the little boy's eyes so he knew I was talking just to him and tell him, "You are special and loved and valuable!"
I don't think the mother had a poor relationship with her son. I could tell they loved each other very much. And I know that there are times, whatever the reason, that I find my son has tried to say the same thing to me seven times just trying to get my attention and interaction, and I only catch it on time number 8 with a minimal response. I know that I fail at times and that is okay, but I also know that regardless of my limitations or shortcomings, God is using me in my son's life and I am honored and blessed by that.
Children don't need to hear how typical they are, they don't need to be bound by societal expectations (whether positive or negative) of how different descriptive characteristics limit them or make them difficult to be around, whether that difference be gender or  race or something else.
Every child needs to be heard and recognized and known. Every child should know that their life is valuable beyond measure, that their uniqueness is intentional, and that they are loved without limits.
I need to hear that, and you need to hear that!
I'm not scared anymore, and I haven't been for awhile. Not because I feel a lightened weight of responsibility toward my son, but because he knows and he has heard and he will continue to hear that he is more valuable than any treasure that any pirate could ever dig up, that he is so a dearly loved child of God (1 John 3:1), that I will gladly dance with my little prince any time he asks (even if it's when he should be sleeping), that playing with new friends in the nursery is brave because he says it is and so is climbing rocks that are really big and so is living life so beautifully in such a big world, that even if and when his mommy and daddy cannot be there with him, God always ALWAYS is, and that he is so special and so SO loved!
I also know that I will fail. Sometimes I'll be a great mom and sometimes I'll just be okay, but thankfully when I'm just okay (or even when I'm downright lousy), I have a heavenly Father that is always paying attention, never saying "what a typical woman!" and just waiting to tell me how valuable I am to Him.


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