Wednesday, July 24, 2013

MY KIDS AND ME - Chapter 17

“When I was a Child”

Are you young enough to remember the details of your childhood? Well, I’m sure there are few ladies reading this book who are older than I am. But I can still remember vivid details of my childhood. I’ve never studied up on this, but I wonder why there are minute details of when I was a child that are as vivid as though they had happened yesterday.

I have a picture in my mind of the sandals my cousin, Becky had when I wasn’t yet 5 years old. I can close my eyes and see the green, red, yellow and blue straps; and I liked them so much that just before my Uncle Paul pulled out of the drive after their visit, she took them off and gave them to me.

I can remember what it felt like to crawl up into my “Mammie’s” lap…the name everyone called my maternal grandmother…and the security of hearing her heartbeat as she held me close, and rocked me to sleep in her squeaky rocking chair. I couldn’t possibly have been more than four.

I remember smells…and sounds…and verses I quoted in a Christmas play. I remember the face of my first grade teacher, and the name of the little boy who got me in trouble by passing me “love” notes.

And I remember feelings I had…when I was a child.

I remember feelings of love, and fun, and excitement.

I remember joy over seeing my baby brother for the first time, and I remember getting my first reader…both on the same day!

But I also remember negative feelings… I remember the feeling of almost terror the day I missed the school bus; and the wonderful sight of Granddaddy waiting for me in the drive when my teacher drove me home; the feeling of regret when I would disobey; anger when my brother wouldn’t help me with the dinner dishes; sadness the day Granddaddy died; fear when seeing “Santa Claus” walk into our living room on Christmas Eve, even though he was a neighbor everyone called “Heavy.”

But perhaps the greatest emotion carried over from when I was a child is this feeling of rejection…this outside feeling.

Ever felt left out of things? Do you ever feel like you’re not young enough, or old enough, or good enough? There are few feelings as strong as those of not feeling accepted. We all want to be loved and admired and included.

When I was a child, I was a preacher’s kid. Back in the 50’s, that wasn’t the respectable position it is today. I can remember hearing so many times the cutting words, “Oh, you can’t do this, because you’re a preacher’s kid.” I wanted to run away, even though Daddy would comfort me by saying, “Being a preacher’s kid doesn’t mean you can’t do certain things…if you were a deacon’s kid, or a mechanic’s kid, it still wouldn’t be right for you to participate in those activities.”

But this is a book about MY kids…and me. What did I learn from them regarding being left outside?

I have a son whose birth order is right in the middle of four girls. And just to add to his misery, he is the youngest of four boys. Because of this, he was too little…or so his three brothers thought…to be included in their activities. He didn’t want to be included in the activities of little girls. So talk about being outside! He should be writing this chapter!

Do you have a child in a difficult position because of his birth order, or her size? Or maybe it’s their lack of the ability to achieve.

Well, this is not a book of advice on how to raise children, is it? Remember my promise to you at the first of the book?

But looking back, if there is something I could observe, as if floating on a cloud above my life back then, and if I could have shouted down some words of advice learned over more than ten years of my non-child-rearing days, it would be the same advice I would give to anyone coping with feelings of “not good enough, or old enough, or young enough, or brave enough.”

Learn to accept.

Isn’t that simple? Learn to accept yourself and others, whether it’s your sister in law, or your 15 year-old son.

God does. We are “accepted in the beloved,” aren’t we?

Always trying to change your hubby? Well, neither is this a marriage manual, but are there attitudes toward your husband that sometimes make him feel like he’s outside your circle of activities, or friends or family?

I believe if I could go back over my life, thinking of all my relationships, not just as a Mom, but as a wife, a sister, a mother in law, I would be more accepting. Even now, there are people in my life I wish I could change…not exchange; but I find myself wishing they were more considerate; or more involved in certain activities; or less aggressive; or not so demanding of my time.

I wish they didn’t complain as much; I wish they were more outgoing; I wish their hair was shorter; I wish they wouldn’t take themselves so seriously.

That pretty much sums up my attitude of an almost-lifetime.

How sad!

Makes me wonder how many hours of enjoyment I’ve missed.

I don’t want to spend another day wishing for changes. I want to “…put away childish things,” and accept others just the way they are…

just the way God does me.

To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved.”…

Ephesians 1:6