I have the most adorable 5 year old son. He is the most joyous, playful, snuggly, and all boy little boy in the world. (I just MIGHT be a tad bias here.. but deal.. please) He seems to know just how to melt my heart. You see, ever since the boy learned to talk he has always had a way of speaking that just made me feel the need to hug him and kiss him. I know you mommies out there know what I mean. It is the little voice articulating with the slight babyish tonality and articulation that is mommy drug. Needless to say for most of his (talking) life he has found a way to make me want to protect him from everything and be there for him. (Don't worry, he isn't going to be a Mommy's boy but it will be borderline on it..)
Yesterday I received a phone call from Gideons school and it went a little something like this..ahem...
Gideon has had a complete meltdown about his "seatwork"... now let me give you a little back story on this thing I am referring to .. you know, the "seatwork". "Seatwork" is work that the kindergartners have to do in their seats, in class, on time. Gideon, who has also always been my perfectionist child, has been working himself up over this "seatwork" for weeks now. It is odd, really, because he always finishes it. He always finishes it on time and pretty much always beautifully, yet he still has such anxiety about it day after day. So, the call yesterday did not come to me as a surprise. I felt for him, I really did. But I have made up my mind that if I coddle him the situation will only get worse. So, he went back to class and did his seatwork.
It breaks my heart. I mean, we tell him all the time he just has to do his best. We are not your "my child will be the best at everything" type of parents. We believe in fostering an atmosphere of creativity and expression with discipline, support and encouragement. It is not as if the child is getting pressure from us to be perfect. So, the one thing that DID surprise me about the phone call is that Gideon told his teacher that "mommy will not like me if I don't do good at my seatwork" and "mommy is going to scream at me if I do bad on my seatwork". Now, I have to admit, when I was told this I actually giggled on the phone. I know my son, he uses this trick on me, as many of you mommies know. But after I hung up I really started to thing about it. I thought, you know he really believes that he has to do the BEST and be the BEST to earn love. Why is that? I began to then think about how I used to live out my Christianity many years ago. I walked around head held high trying to do everything perfectly. Trying to make sure people SAW my good deeds; that people HEARD me sing for God. I made sure that people KNEW I was reading my Bible and doing a Bible study and going to church and being at potlucks and parties and on and on and on. I would read "Christian self help" books and Women's books on how to be a better pastors wife or how to be a better "woman of God" or how to "Love God more". It was this never ending cycle of attempting in some ways to "earn" God's love and "earn" my salvation. I got to tell you. I do NOT read "Christian self help books" anymore. I do not attend "Let's learn to love God more and be perfect women of God" conferences or studies either. I stopped running in place on a treadmill of trying to earn brownie points with God and started running, sometimes walking sometimes falling down on the path and just resting for a moment race towards God. I rest each day in knowing that I do not have to "earn" God's love. I do not have to "be the BEST" Christian wife,mom, woman in order to have a relationship with God. Just like Gideon with his seatwork, I would work myself up into thinking I was under the oppression of having to be something that I can never be.. perfect. I am perfected only through Christ. I am only strong when he is strong, and I can only BE who HE created me to be. And that is ok with my daddy so it should be ok with me.
Gideon is at school today, a little less stressed and hopefully not having a panic attack about now. I am so thankful that God is a father who loves us unconditionally. I shared a little of all this with Gideon last night before bed. I want him to know that not only do I love him and not expect perfection but even more than I ever could, GOD loves him and is always going to be there when he needs him, no matter what.