This week has been one of those parenting weeks that just feels like too much. A suspension from school, another almost suspension, stealing, bad and dangerous choices, and a whole lot of lying…all of these being their own separate incidences.
I am tired today. Honestly, this week has taken a lot out of me. Each of these situations have required a lot of physical time and emotional energy to enter into. For kids who come from hard places, actions aren’t what they necessarily seem. Often there is so much behind them. A trauma that was triggered. Something going on at home that has set them off. Desiring more connection. Something that upset them at school. Their brain not working the way it’s meant to.
But is is way too easy to forget that and to just be mad and dole out discipline. To drill your child with “Why on earth did you do that?!” To quickly send them to their room. To stay mad even after you have been apologized to. To not take the time to calmly sit with them and care about what is going on underneath the bad that they did.
It takes time…lots of it. Energy…both physical and emotional. It takes sacrifice…putting your own needs aside, your own emotions aside, and entering into their brokenness and loving them in the midst of it. It also takes letting go of your own expectations.
Expectations of how they will respond. Expectations of what they do or do not deserve from you in that moment. Expectations of what they will do in the future. Expectations of how they will treat you.
As I have thought about all of this, I am reminded of something I wrote this summer about a precious moment with my daughter. A moment that revealed my own brokenness. A moment that was filled with so much beauty. A moment that taught me a lot.
Giving Without Expectation
The brokenness. The toll. The never-ending work. The sacrifice. The trauma. Always being on. No moments of solitude. Sleepless nights. Constantly giving of yourself. Constantly. All the time. Giving. Always giving. Not expecting anything in return.
I have no expectations. She lays outside enjoying the warm sun. As I come out to join her…ugh. “What’s wrong mommy?” I explain that my foot is hurting and itching and I don’t know why. “Sit here for a minute mommy.” She points to the step. I’m curious. Some sort of game she wants to play? I sit. She comes over. She gently touches my foot.
“This one mommy?” Warmth fills my heart as I look into her caring eyes. Yes sweetie, that’s the one. I try not to choke up. She looks intently at my foot. She takes her hand and carefully rubs on top of it. She carefully pulls my toes apart, searching. She is determined.
I look down and see a little black speck. I know my girl. I know that she is going to think that this is the offending party. “Mommy, Mommy, Mommy I found it!”She brushes it away. Her smile is huge. “All better mommy?” I already knew what I had to say. My smile matches hers. Yes sweet girl, all better.
She gave to me. In her own brokenness and need, she gave to me. Freely. without being asked. Unbegrudgingly. Lavishly. Not expecting anything in return. My girl gave to me.
I was blind. I do expect. I expect a lot. I expect my kids not to complain. I expect them to care when they hurt my feelings. I expect them not to do something they know they shouldn’t. And all these expectations are sometimes chained tightly to my giving.
The chains may be invisible, but they weigh it down. They dig deeply in, leaving bloody grooves. So heavy. I know my children feel that weight. I sometimes see it in the slump of their shoulders. In the flash of sadness written on their faces. In their defiant behavior. A weight too heavy to bear. A weight not meant for them.
The brokenness. The toll. The sacrifice. Lord, You gave to me. You gave to her. Freely. Unbegrudgingly. Lavishly. Help me to give to my children like this. All the time. Giving. Always giving. Not expecting anything in return.