Allow me to teach you a thing or two.
It is at this point you will want to run screaming from this post.
You asked for it.
When our oldest daughter, Mary Margaret, code name Maggie, was about 3 it started. If she got into any trouble, say for biting her brother John, she would peacefully close her eyes while she was reprimanded. She just refused to open them. It was like some weird ancient Buddha meditation. Except, we were Catholic. The child would not open her eyes. No expression on her chubby little cheeks. She would simply go to her happy place.
This would push my dear husband to his breaking point. Short of prying her eyes open, we had little recourse. Still our first two children were rather easy and then… along came Luke. He made us real parents, kind of like how Pinocchio became a real boy. And if you ever meet him, after you admire his killer dimples, you can thank him for his service to this blog. If not for Luke, I would be the most obnoxious parent on the planet.
I really did think I knew it all.
And even before we ventured down the adoption route, we fondly could separate the children into two categories, by birth order. The “odds” – which were Maggie and Luke, and the “evens” which were John and Sophie. Interestingly enough, each of the groups has increased in number, Sam joining the odds and code name Charlie joining the evens, and their personalities adhere perfectly to their assigned birth order. But, I digress.
The odds are much more tenacious than the evens. And as Maggie grew out of the meditative trance stage, she entered into a more vocal state of expressing herself. My husband, a birth ordered even himself, took this parenting approach: “Don’t tell me what you won’t do.” This worked a good portion of the time. When Maggie was nine, we took her to visit a local swim team. As we were leaving, she said, “Forget that, I am not swimming.”
Nine years later, as we read her accolades at her home school, high school graduation, her 9-year accomplishments on that swim team were a key part of our praises. As was her season as a coach of the same team.
And we have tried to stick by this methodology. We are in charge. We are the boss of you.
As Luke entered into adolescence, we stood by this. We are in charge. We are the boss of you. And to the same extent we stood by “Don’t tell us what you won’t do” we added, “We will follow through with punishments.” Which is kind of ironic? I threaten to kick their lungs out, but I never really have. And yet, when I say, “I am going to kick your lung out,” they hop to. So I guess they believe me.
And last summer, when Luke refused to follow the rules, we spoke these words: “One more time, one more incident, and you will be going to military school.”
As we drove those 486 miles, I truly believed I was dying of a broken heart. Good grief! I am crying again. It was physically painful. And what so many people have failed to understand, and have been so easy to criticize is, I would do anything to save his life. And at this stage of the game, that meant he had to go.
I love this boy. I love his company. He is hilarious and smart. He is strong and wise. And his absence in these halls has been deafening. The financial burden has been – I can’t even begin to describe. But, I was never promised it would be easy.
And it is not about me.
I think that my folly was that I believed I could follow a certain formula. That no meant no, and we are the boss of you and you won’t tell us what you will and won’t do or you get a lung kicked. Homeschool, go to church, cook a pot roast, foster and adopt babies, read the bible, walk three miles, and “SHAZAM!” Perfectly grown, Christ following, law abiding, humans.
Kind of like me?
And therein lies the truth.
I am not a perfectly grown, Christ following, law abiding human. I eat things I shouldn’t, I drive 74 in a 65, and I love Jesus, but surely He doesn’t mind if I stop following him to watch garbage on television… I will get back to Him when it is a good time for me. My transgressions are many. The last 6 months with Luke gone, this has been the resounding gong in my life. And I have peacefully closed my eyes and tried to pretend I was not being reprimanded.
But I am.
We all are, we are constantly given direction that we blatantly ignore. And yet, we are all quick to judge. You can think I am as wicked as they come, and I have the emails to prove some of you do, all the while you have one foot out the window sneaking out past curfew.
Sin is sin is sin. It all smells the same – icky. And it always has a snowball effect and impacts those around us. But I don’t know how to stop? I don’t know how to completely change? And I beg God to help me and show me what I am doing wrong… And sometimes, there are harsher consequences, and sometimes He offers grace and a new day.
I cease to be stubborn, I open my eyes, and I see where I went wrong. I vow to be different.
I hope I am different. I hope I do better. I hope I learned my lesson. I hope…
Yesterday, I bought Luke a one-way ticket home. I spent the day enrolling him in dual credit courses at the University where Maggie and John attend, where I graduated. He wants to study Cultural Anthropology and Behavioral Psychology. He wants a fresh start. And we want to offer him grace and a new day. If he follows through with his goals, He will graduate from homeschool high school in 20 months. Like his “odd” counterpart Maggie, he has the ability to graduate with 45 college credits toward his goals.
And I believe in him.
I learn my parenting skills from the best, my Father in Heaven. It probably won’t look like you think it will, and I can promise you it will be heart-wrenchingly awful some days. But the key to my success is closing my eyes and focusing on how heart breakingly hard, utterly exhausting, and exasperatingly hopeful it is to still be parenting me. And He keeps on…
I wonder what my birth order is in kingdom terms?
HA! Just kidding, I just know I am an odd.
May your floors be sticky and your calling ordained. Love, Jami
“Pardon me, my Lord. As surely as you live, I am the woman who stood here beside you praying. I prayed for this child, and the Lord has granted me what I asked of Him. So now, I will give him to the Lord. For his whole life, he will be given over to the Lord.” And he worshiped the Lord there. 1 Samuel 1:26