When it comes to my children, I am a worry-er.
Are they getting enough of my attention? Will they stand up to bullying? Am I raising them to be confident and loving? Is my impatience scarring them? Do they know how incredibly wonderful and special they, as an individual, are?
Sometimes it keeps me up at night. Because during the day, life gets kind of crazy and I have no time to ponder anything as I try to keep this ship afloat and sailing.
And it's funny to me how we can be sailing smoothly along and yet, at the same time seem to be taking in water.
Smooth sailing example:
After one of my late night worry sessions that involved positive self images, I came up with an activity for the family to do together. I pulled out our big chalk board and set it up by the dinner table. I told everyone to think of something they are really good at. After we were done eating, I wrote everyone's name on the chalk board and, starting with Dean and I, proceeded to write down everyone's self-proclaimed strengths.
I want my kids to have self confidence. I want them to recognize their own good qualities and feel good about them. I want their self-esteem to be their armor so that they thrive in environments outside the safe walls of our home.
I tucked away the bit of knowledge that my son said "I don't know if I'm good at it, but I like to play basketball" while my daughter said in a sure voice that "I am good at reading and coloring".
Food for the night thoughts.
After everyone was done explaining what they were good at, I told them they now had to come up with something good about every other member of the family. This definitely took some time as there were six people giving six compliments, but I really wanted them to think positively of each other and find the good in each other.
I want my kids to think of others. I want them to be kind and compassionate, and lift each other up. I want the knowledge that we have their back, always, empower them to turn their thoughts outward and be thoughtful of and helpful to those they encounter.
And I was pleased that everyone was able to do it. Each of the kids recognized something good in everyone else. The older kids especially surprised me with what they noticed and thought. Our board of good qualities was full.
Taking on water example:
Elaina was in my arms erasing what I was writing for much of the time, so I handed her to Dad. She then proceeded to crawl and walk all across the table, stepping into a plate of chicken enchilada. Her howl at being put on the floor was hard to hear over.
Then, once the little boys' turns were over, they quickly lost interest in the activity and started wrestling and screeching at the table. As usual, they didn't listen when we tried to quiet them down and separate them. Dinner ended with kids bouncing every which way, the noise level near ear piercing decibels, and one child in a time out for biting another's bottom.
I have no idea if this little self-and-sibling-praise-activity will stick with the kids, if it will even help achieve the goal in mind, but I have to believe it will. I have to hope that I'm instilling the values in them that I want rather than the faulty ones I demonstrate. I have to believe that they'll remember the love, the sense of belonging, and the lessons rather than the chaos that always accompanies anything we do as a family. I have to hope that I'm learning how to parent fast enough and making a difference now before they are all grown and gone.
I have to keep on believing it.
I have to.
Because it makes the smooth sailing feel like flying
and the bailing of water feel effortless.