During our Thanksgiving trip to New York, my mother-in-law gave my youngest son, Louie, a puzzle to put together. At first we were super excited because we LOVE puzzles! But, when we started to try to put it together, it was hard…not like it’s a little difficult hard, but like I want to pull out my hair hard. It had all these little cartoon dogs on it with a clever looking cat sitting on top of them all. THEN, it had dozens of teeny tiny snowflakes and stars at the top. This puzzle did not take hours, but DAYS! I truly believed that Satan himself created this puzzle to cause confusion and turmoil. I don’t know why it was so hard, it just was! All of the family worked on it at one time or another, and finally it was completed and we all stared in awe and satisfaction at the finished product of doggies in the shape of a Christmas tree.
However, during this process, I noticed how funny it was that Louie always had the next piece that fit….or so he said. He would get frustrated (granted he is only 5), but would just pick a lone piece and try to force it into the puzzle. He would grunt, “See, it fits!” But, he would be bending the pieces, the pictures or colors wouldn’t align and he would look back trying to convince me that it belonged there. I would just look at him wondering if he really thought I was that dumb…
The more I worked on this puzzle and watched how Louie kept trying to make pieces fit that obviously didn’t, I began to think about how I do this to my own kids. I really do! I try to bend the pieces of their personality to fit into what my picture of their life should be. I try to force them to fit into my expectation of who I want them to be. Why do I do this?? Why do we all do this?? Now, I’m not talking about guiding and raising our children in moral and Godly direction. I’m talking about trying to mold my children’s spirit, how they are most inner connected, into what I think it should look like. It’s ridiculous how I think I have this power! I don’t and no one does.
But, isn’t it how they are born, how they come into this world exactly how they should be? God knew what He was doing when He breathed life into them. For example, my daughter, Paisley, is a homebody. She loves being at home and being creative. But, I was never like that. I was always wanted to go out and have adventure. I tried for many years to force her to be more like me, but she wasn’t and she’s not. And, that ok! It’s just who she is, and honestly, now that she is almost 16 years old, I don’t have to worry too much about whom she is with or where she is because she has a small group of loyal wonderful friends, and she never stays out too late because she loves home so much.
My son, Eddie, was born with a sensitive spirit. He has always struggled with wearing his emotions on his sleeve. I have tried and tried to talk to him about being so raw, but again, it is who he is. There is no changing it. However, there are times when I have seen him have such tenderness towards others, and such empathy in different situations, that I would have squashed that amazing gift if I tried to change him, and force his pieces to fit into my little world.
Louie, my strong willed child, can be challenging to parent. He does and says things that I cannot believe he would ever think were acceptable! Now, don’t get me wrong, we discipline and we love him through it, but when he was 2 and 3 years old, we didn’t get out much!! But, I know there will be a time in his life when his strong conviction of character is going to help him persevere. He will be able to overcome obstacles with that determination. I don’t ever want to put out that fire in him.
When I relinquished the power that I thought that I had about controlling my children’s personalities, I realized that I love the unique gifts that the Lord has given my children. I sit back and stare at how truly beautiful they are in their individual ways. And, honestly, knowing that I can’t change what God has made, allows me to enjoy them as people and what they bring to our family. I know I wouldn’t want to be pushed to be something that I’m not, so they don’t appreciate it either. Enjoy your kiddos, especially for their uniqueness. If we were all the same, would life be boring??
For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them. Psalms 139:13-16