Back up a second.
When Juniper is 40, I plan to be a hip, young, hot 74 year old great grandmother, thank you very much. I have big plans for those years. I will wear my hair long to my waist, silvery white, and in a loose hippie braid decorated with fresh wildflowers. I will perfect my sultry Latin dance moves (which I will learn at the dance lessons our kids will give us as a gift for our 50th wedding anniversary). I will go out in public without shoes. I will be in the newspaper as the cool old lady who ran her first marathon as a septuagenarian. And I will drive 12 mph slower than the posted limit, speeding up only when someone tries to pass me.
That's right. Big plans.
"Who knows", I told him, "maybe I'll even be at Juni's 70th birthday party". Shoeless, dancing the cha cha cha, and proudly wearing my finisher medal, of course.
Asa brought the conversation to an end when he called out from the back of the van,"OK, MOM, THEN WHEN JUNI IS 100, THEN YOU'LL BE LONG GONE!"
Yes. Yes I will. And it got me to thinking.
One day, maybe sooner, maybe later, these precious little ones that I call "mine" will have to live without me. They will have to know how to make their own breakfast, tie their own shoes, adjust the strap on their own swimming goggles, iron their own clothes, stand up for themselves, give to others, and serve God however they are called to do so. Looks like I've got a big job ahead of me. But on top of WHAT they must learn to do, it is important to me HOW they learn to do it.
If you hang out at our house long enough you will inevitably hear me ask my kids to do something. Put their shoes away. Wash the windows. Vacuum up a mess. Play with the baby sister. Or, for goodness sake, FINISH YOUR SCHOOLWORK! And, in response, sometimes you may see tiny shoulders slump, frustrated sighs escape, or maybe even sweet little eyes roll. And that's when you may hear me say, "thank you for obeying, please do it with a happy heart!" Followed by my cheesy smile and fully expecting a cheesy smile from them in return.
Once, when Ethan was much younger, we read a story about a man who lost his ability to walk and talk. As a result, he could no longer work and provide for his family. When they story was over, Ethan said, "That really wouldn't be so bad. At least if I couldn't walk or talk, I wouldn't have to do chores anymore!"
Oops. Clearly, he missed the lesson.
It's easy to think of work, whether it be at home or outside the home, as something we HAVE to do. But I try hard to teach my children that work is something we GET to do. I want them to be thankful for hands that can hold a mop, feet that can take trash down the long driveway to the road, and a healthy mind that can read the list of morning chores. I want them to appreciate the ability to accomplish even the most mundane of tasks, and find joy in the opportunity to serve. I want to teach them not just to work, but to whistle while they work!
Today, as I watched Ethan clean the kitchen, I saw a hint of a smile on his lips, and quickly scooped up my camera to document his happy heart. For posterity. And, of course, to scroll through with him the next time I get an eye roll instead of a whistle.
|Ethan, before realizing that he is being watched|
|Hi Mom. Is counter cleaning really photo worthy? You are one funny, crazy lady...|
|And the antics begin|
|Throw in some goofy expressions....|
|As long as the camera is on me, I might as well dance!|
|Ham it up, baby!|
I stopped snapping just before the real booty shaking started. Trust me, it was for your own good.
I can guarantee you that I will leave my kids with the ability to clean a kitchen with a smile. Now I have proof.
But I hope that I have taught them more than how to work well. I hope that I have taught them how to love well. If I am not there to kiss their boo boos, dry their tears, or just offer a middle-of-the-day-no-reason-needed hug, I pray that they have learned to offer those things to one another. Because what they are learning now to give to each other, is what they will later know how to give to the world.
I pray that God can use the imperfect offering of love that I put into my children, and bring out of them something beautiful and amazing for his glory.