Saturday, July 19, 2014

This Yo-Yo Mama

My family spent this past week making memories galore at family camp in Colorado. We have been to this particular camp two previous times--when my trio was 4 and 6--but the level of autonomy they had this time, as ten year olds, made for a very different experience. 

While there were activities each day that we engaged in as a family, the safe surroundings allowed my kiddos so much freedom and independence that I found myself a little bored and missing them. I watched longingly as other parents wrangled their little ones who still sat in their laps and needed/wanted them constantly. I know if you are in this stage you think I am crazy :) I remember how exhausting it was. I really do. But, frankly, I am still trying to work my way through my role now that K, P & R don't need me as physically and as often as they once did.

Thursday afternoon my P bought an orange yo-yo. Although it should come as no surprise that my tactile tinkerer would want such a classic toy—I confess I was not particularly excited about his purchase. From the moment he proudly showed it to me I felt a sense of dread over the inevitable frustration it was likely to bring him. Cheap plastic toys rarely fare well in our family, but our efforts to teach money management involve budgeting and making choices, so I allowed the purchase despite my reservations. Natural consequences are certainly the best teacher--for kids and grown ups alike.

Later that night I looked across a room crowded full of people to see P on his knees, crying as he fought with a very tangled yo-yo string. After a few minutes he brought it to me, cupped in his hands. With frustrated tears still on his cheeks he said, “I just can’t fix this. Can you help me?”

I am his mother. I hate to see him sad. And frankly, something within me lit up and rejoiced in being needed by my boy. He had a mess that I could fix. So, I spent the next half hour fumbling with the thin white string. While I was able to make some progress, the knots ultimately were just too much for me.

I knew his father could handle it. Not only is he a former boy scout, but he deals with tiny knots and sutures constantly in the OR. This yo-yo string would be an easy fix in his capable hands, but this stubborn Mama kept fumbling--not ready to hand it over to the one who could repair it with ease. I made some progress, even returning it to a (basically) functional state--but it was not a complete fix. 

After a half hour, I reluctantly handed it off to my husband who was able to efficiently do what I was not—working out the tangled mess and returning the yo-yo to the way it was intended to be. 

I immediately realized that this was a part of my changing role as a tween Mom--to know when I am intended to help versus when I should merely be the conduit, pointing them to the One who can really heal their mess. This time it was their earthly father--increasingly it will be their Heavenly one. 

That night our camp speaker encouraged us to spend 15 minutes in the star-filled quiet Colorado night--just listening to anything the Lord might want to say to us. And all I could think about was that orange plastic yo-yo and what it revealed about my heart and my changing role.

I realized that I withheld what my child needed because I had a need I was trying to fill first. I wanted to be P's hero and savior. While I was more than capable of loving him and doing my best with that tangled mess--P needed more than me.

What a reminder that I can only parent from the healthiest place when my needs are being met by God first. It is essential that I stay plugged in to my relationship with the Lord to allow Him to reveal the messes in my own heart before I put them onto my children. I must also continue to ask God to show me in each particular situation with each particular child what role is mine and what is in fact His. 

Knotted strings at 10 become different sorts of tangled messes as we age and grow. While the early years were filled with moments of "Mommy can fix anything," increasingly my role will be to lovingly and faithfully help my children take these things to the Lord. 

I am so grateful for a God of grace who is untangling my pride like my husband handled that white yo-yo string.

I will never look at a yo-yo the same way again.


Pam said...

Thank you. Stopping in here is ALWAYS a refreshment to my soul and often such an unexpected blessing. Just when I think I am so alone in my mama boat, I am reminded I have sisters out there learning lessons right along with me. Thank you for willingly sharing your so we can all benefit.

Keri said...

Oh, how this speaks to me today! In my world/heart, it looks more like me trying to protect them, rather than fix their problems, but the message is the same. By keeping the reins inappropriately tight, I'm preventing the Lord from meeting their true needs because of my own selfish need to feel like I'm keeping them from harm. (A run-on sentence, but hopefully it makes sense!) Thank you for these words of wisdom. The money spent on the orange yo-yo seems to have paid dividends in more than one heart. ;-)

Gail said...

Well said!
Annapolis, MD

sl said...

My husband and I have been looking for vacation spots like this. Can you share where you stay? Web sites always look wonderful. I like recommends from people who have been there. Thanks

sl said...

My husband and I have been looking for vacation spots like this. Can you share where you stay? Web sites always look wonderful. I like recommends from people who have been there. Thanks

JMom said...

JMom said...

Highly recommend for many ages and stages of kids!!