Wednesday, September 24, 2014

List Making & Turkey Baking

It started last night with this sight...piles of kid stuff discarded in the middle of the hallway at home, just outside the mudroom.

Behind those cabinet doors are spacious lockers with hooks for backpacks. Directly below them are big bottom drawers to keep shoes handy. And yet, all the Pinterest, planning and provision in the world can't force obedience. When I designed that room, I had such plans for how organized it would make us. And then, I left my fantasy and entered real life.

Before summoning the people who made the mess to clean it up, I took a quick shot. I posted it to Instagram with a quip about all the Pinterest photos of modern mudrooms failing to mention that kids would still be kids. I couldn't help but giggle at the thought of women standing on top of piles of kids' stuff just outside the room to take a 'perfect' photo to pin. 

This morning there were many issues with preparation and organization for school. I received not one, but TWO calls from children who left their school-issued Ipads at home. I cringed...because, ya'll, we have been working on this. 

A couple of weeks ago after a harried morning I drove straight to my local UPS store. Sitting in the parking lot I made (and subsequently had laminated) morning and evening lists for my children--reminders of things to do before bed to make the morning go more smoothly and another set of things I consider their morning routine. The hope was to increase the independence of my ten year olds, while decreasing my nagging

I am striving to be an equipper not an enabler. I have expectations. They have been communicated clearly, explained thoroughly and reiterated regularly. There are even consequences. Many days they work fairly well, yet, because these things are a process not an instant product, our mornings still often include maddening searches for shoes and belts, frantic dashes back in from the driveway for snacks, and calls from school over forgotten items like Ipads and shorts for running club.

As I was pondering it all this afternoon, I realized there was a fine line in striving for orderliness and expecting perfection. K, P & R are real people, not robots. I certainly have an end goal of raising self sufficient adults, but they are 10, not 20. The process, not the product is the point right now.

A wise teacher once gave me the metaphor of training children like roasting a Thanksgiving turkey...even the most glorious centerpiece of a golden brown, succulent bird would make everybody sick if served two hours early. You can't rush it...nor can you be too quick to judge it.

Honestly, I can't follow the lists I make for myself most days. I was convicted to the core a couple of hours ago when I skipped right over the necessary household chores I need to accomplish today to spontaneously pop in a store to do some Christmas September. I'm not even kidding. Retail therapy or ridiculously hypocritical?  It certainly knocked me off my war path. 

I have systems to organize my days, much like what I am training my children to use, but the system is not enough. Just as a terrific, custom designed mudroom is of no use if people don't walk across the threshold and USE it, my laminated lists that were intended to keep me from nagging might as well be thrown in the garbage if no one reads them.

I think most adults can identify with coaching, advice, feedback we have received....Bible studies we've done, sermons we've heard, Truth we have felt in our soul. It is a start, but it is not the end game.

Building buildings doesn't make us a church.
Hearing sermons doesn't make us holy. 
Reading the Bible doesn't make us righteous.
Lists of do's and don'ts aren't heart changers.

No, it's so much more. It's a relationship with Him. It's doing real life with community. It's trying, failing, forgiving and getting back up again. It is a process (with a big church word, sanctification). 

I don't want to be a dog that chases my tail, raising other busy little puppies that chase theirs. I want perspective. So I sat down. I exhaled. I processed as I wrote this...and now I plan to pray for patience as I continue the process.

I don't just want a mudroom that looks organized, I want it to be used for the purpose for which it was created. Likewise, I want my children's faith, character and responsible living to be real, not just for show.  Apparently, that takes a little time. 

So, today we are going to practice crossing the threshold. :-)
And I'm going to let these turkeys keep cooking. 


Sarah said...

This tired mama needed to hear this today! I'm in the same boat!(Christmas shopping in September included :) Thank you for sharing your heart! You truly have a gift!


JMom said...

Blessings to you Sarah! Thanks for the encouragement.

Denise Ross said...

Sounds like life in my house. I'm parenting with grace, I hope, and so trying to teach my kids 19,17,9, to work together and help each other out but doing what they need to do too. So twines I think I'm getting it right but often I feel as though I'm missing it. Parenting is certainly ongoing lesson in life not just for the kiddos but ourselves too. I'm trying to be okay with some mess because once the kids all leave home my home will be super tidy but I'll be. Issuing my messiness times with my kids. Crazy life :-) but loving it. Keep on keeping on Jen, you're doing a great job. They do learn and it's i. The most unexpected moments that you'll see the evidence of it.