From these pictures it might be easy to assume that it was another day in homeschool paradise (ha). Amelie made her own eggs for breakfast and Sera sat quietly doing her math.
Well, that first picture was taken before we dissolved into fits and drama, and if you look closely at the second picture, you can see the faint glisten of tears under Sera’s eyes.
We had SUCH A HARD morning.
It all started when I asked the girls to feed the chickens. As sisters do, they got into an argument. Sera hurt Amelie’s feelings and Amelie came inside in a fury. I did not realize this when I told Amelie that it was time to get dressed and make her bed.
This was, apparently, the most offensive thing I could possibly suggest at the moment. Amelie ran into her room, slammed the door, and refused to come out. I won’t subject you to the details of her fit, and I’ll also honor her by keeping those specifics between her and me.
But I will say. IT. WAS. AWFUL.
And she absolutely would not budge.
I called Josh. AGAIN.
To cry. AGAIN.
And to ask him what I should do. AGAIN.
I actually already had come up with a plan, but I was starting to waiver. I had told Amelie that if she refused to leave her room, I would do school with Sera and not with her, and that she (Amelie) would have to make up that day in the summer. I told her this, but really I wanted her to choose the right thing. I wanted to implement the discipline but not the consequence. Ah, parenthood.
Josh helped me stay firm. And he also talked to Amelie on the phone. We delivered the ultimatum as a united front: “Do homeschool today, or stay in your room with the consequence of a summer school day.” Amelie chose to stay in her room.
I’m really into this free to learn, free to choose philosophy. But what if they choose…wrong? This has got to be the hardest part of parenting.
As parents, we talk a lot about how we make mistakes (there are plenty) and about how, at the end of the day, it is love that wins the battle. Love creates loving humans. But sometimes, love looks like discipline. And often, it feels like it isn’t working. And we just have to wait.
I knew we had made the right choice. But as I sat in the other room I felt…sorrow. Sera felt it too. As she started her math work she began to cry. When I asked her why, she just said things didn’t feel right, that the day felt sad. I knew exactly what she meant.
We were separated from Amelie. She was right on the other side of her door but those walls were powerful. I wanted to break them down and rescue her. I wanted to unmake her choice.
I sat in this tension for only about 15 minutes.
I heard the door, I heard her footsteps, and I heard her voice, contrite and whimpering:
“I want to make the right choice.”
I wrapped my arms around her and told her that of COURSE…of course she could still make the right choice. There is always room for forgiveness and for starting over.
It worked! I was so relieved. The day immediately got better. But, it made me think about how hard it is to be a parent. I know, “duh,” right? But I don’t just mean the preschool years, or the stay-at-home years, or the mommy wars, or the battles of the wills. I mean FOREVER.
I had been thinking for awhile, that it only gets easier from here. That the hardest years are behind us. What a foolish thought! Today I realized that it actually only gets harder. Baby years? Those are easy. We dress them and feed them and rock them to sleep. Yeah, it’s intense, but we generally have a lot of control over their choices and their well being.
It hit me today that they are probably going to make a lot of bad choices. They are going to move out, and maybe make bad choices at their own houses…not just on the other side of a wall, but down the street, in another city, maybe even across the country. In an instant, I imagined Amelie (a 7 year old who has taken just a couple of years of ballet) attending Julliard on dance scholarships and living in a roach-infested apartment in New York City on her own and I just about threw up.
I think a special power of moms is to see one snapshot involving a child and imagine it through to the end of its possible trajectory. A cute image of a toddler on a bridge quickly dissolves into the toddler somehow running and leaping over the bridge. Of course, then you imagine yourself diving headlong into whatever lies below to rescue said toddler. Very quickly you are imagining your own funeral–down to the musical selections. Am I wrong? I didn’t think so.
Anyway. There is Amelie. In my imagination. In New York. Making friends with drug dealers. (WHAT? I don’t know, it’s happened on Felicity, which I hear is pretty true-to-life.) Anyway, the point is, she will one day stretch her little wings far beyond my control.
Dear God. That is terrifying, sobering, and humbling. It made me pray right then for her heart and her steps.
But it also made me pray for me. Lord knows I will need it. Today there were only a few hours of anguish. There will probably be worse choices and harder circumstances to work through, and it will probably take a lot more time. God give all of us wisdom and patience to wait as our littles learn to fly.