Learning from Each Other
On Tuesday, Grace attempted to be me for a whole day. It was funny, and hard, and something we both learned from. It was something that started as a joke around the dinner table, but became so much more. If you missed the blog post about Grace’s day of trying to be me, you can catch up here: https://becomingblended.com/2017/06/21/i-could-do-it/
I told Grace that she hasn’t truly finished a day of being me until she “Blogs” about her experience. Haha. I asked her to write something to all of you about what she thought about the day and what she learned, if anything. This is Grace’s reflection on her experience:
“Yesterday was interesting. That is for sure. I had no idea what was going to happen because kids can be unpredictable. Yet, I personally was surprised on how the day went. So, my mom, the irreplaceable, unpredictable, loving, kind, yet firm, and fun, amazing mom wants me to write about how I felt the day went.
In my eyes, I thought the day could not be more perfect. Some people would say “but I’m sure you had yell and get after your siblings.” I would say “that is what happens every day, but today is as perfect as it gets.” My siblings were amazing. They were sometimes, most of the time, kind and fair to each other, so I could get the list of things my mom had given me done. But during some parts of the day I thought I would “die” because some parts of the day were extremely hard. But I got through the day knowing that my mom and dad do this all day so I can do it.
Some of my favorite parts of the day was when everyone was asleep. And when Josiah and I sat on the floor with our arms crossed to see if Josiah would take a nap or I would let him slide on the nap. I won. But mom did have to come in and say some firm words to keep him in the bed. And when we built a fort and watched Lilo and Stich.
Then there were the least favorite parts of the day. Like when I had to raise my voice, when I would have to punish them because of their behavior. And when I had to be mean and I hate being mean.
Even if you have favorite and least favorite parts of the day you will always learn something new or/and about yourself. I learned my parents job being our parents is really hard and stressful and the fact there is a lot more to being a mom and dad, than yelling and being fun. It is that they make sacrifices every day for you. And they love you with all their hearts even when you get in trouble. Also, that they only want the best for you. Then I learned you can have a lot of willpower, patience, and kindness in the easiest and hardest times. Also, no matter how big or small a problem is the kids will always be important to them, so you have to handle and solve the problem the best you can.
I think other kids my age (+13) should do this. Because it will teach them to respect their parents so much more and what they do for us. Also, they will learn so much. And they will learn things about themselves.
The after effect of yesterday was…. okay. But my feet hurt a lot. My back has an aching pain. Then I cannot even sit down without my knees hurting so much. Other than that I feel perfectly fine. So, I cannot really complain about anything else other than that.
So, my mom asked me if I would act any different since this. And here is my answer, I will really try not have a negative attitude during the day about things and I will be of considerate about things. I will also be more patient with my siblings and parents, and I will be more kind during disagreements. And I will never say anything bad about dinner or give noises that can hurt my parents’ feelings. And I will work on what time I wake up in the morning, also I will work on the way I react to things. I hope my siblings can do the same, too.
So, my idea of the day was as perfect as it can get. How everyone acted was amazing. I loved it. And I cannot wait to do it again or something completely different. But I am full of energy and hope. And I cannot wait see what comes next.” – Grace, age 13
My reflection on the experience:
I didn’t go into this expecting to learn anything. This was after all, about teaching Grace something. I was ready to sit back and watch her learn, and be there to help her and guide her to see and think about things differently as she went. I know now that this was as much for me as it was for her. As I sat back and watched her on Tuesday, I took moments to pray for her. I prayed for her childhood to be filled with the opportunity to just be a kid in this chaos and not feel like she always has to be an authority just because she is the oldest. I prayed all the changes in her life recently would affect her in only the most positive ways. I prayed for the mother she would be someday. I prayed I would be a mother she could emulate; one that displays patience, gentleness, kindness; one that gains respect from her children without forcing it; one that openly displays love to her children and shows that she is proud of them; one that points them to Jesus. I don’t need to be the mom that does everything right, always has fun activities and grand dinners, or has complete order in her home. Those things do not define a good mom and those things are not what Grace and my other children need to learn from me.
I leaned a lot about Grace. I already knew she was an incredible kid. Flash back with me to when David and I first started talking. He told me he had 3 daughters and that one of them was 12. Almost a teenager. Fear rose up in me-teenagers are scary! I began to worry about all the ways this could go: she could hate me, she could be moody, she could be bitter about my entrance into her life, she could give me a hard time, she could say nothing to me. I worried until the day I met her. Her dad told her and her sisters about me and that we were dating the day I was to meet them. As I was going about my day and trying to mentally prepare myself for meeting his parents and his three daughters, one of which was a soon to be teenager, all at the same time, I got a phone call from David. I answered and heard, “Hi! I’m Grace! My dad just told me about you and I couldn’t wait until tonight to meet you so I had to call.” We talked for the next 20 min about my likes and dislikes and how excited she was. She has continued to show the same amount excitement about my presence in their lives. She is respectful to adults, she is helpful, she loves to make her family proud and works hard to do so, she thinks hard about things with a maturity that many kids her age do not have. She is pretty amazing. All of this I already knew. I also knew she wasn’t perfect. She is still just 13 and has moments of being very 13. And that is to be expected. But, while watching her, I learned even more that she is still a kid and that is a beautiful thing. Watching her 6 siblings is a lot. Many would expect that a day with our 6 youngest would be stressful and exhausting. While Grace has moments of frustration, within a few minutes she was back to being care-free and happy. Like a kid. As adults, we let it mount and build all day, unable to let it go, until we feel like we can’t take anymore. I was relieved to see that not happen for her. I learned Grace needs to be a kid more than she realizes. Even in a day in which she was determined to reach her goals and be an adult all day, I watched her build a fort and spend time perfecting it and forget her responsibilities for a bit. I watched her try all day to make slime happen and finally settle on homemade playdoh and she has continued to carry that playdoh around with her and enjoy it. I watched her desire so much to just sit and watch Lilo and Stitch with the kids and play outside. I think she forgets sometimes how much she enjoys being a kid because she wants to be one of the adults, but I hope to keep reminding her for a few more years.
There were moments in the day when I saw glimpses of myself come out of her. Some were good and some I was not so proud of. I learned that I am already influential in helping form the woman she will be. Until now, I have always been a mom to small children. My oldest (well 2 oldest) before David and his girls came along was 5. I have been able to tell myself I had time to work on the habits of mine I didn’t want to pass on before they really started to stick in my kids. I told myself that it was okay that I wasn’t the mom I wanted to be yet because life as a single mom to four was hard and I just needed to survive. I learned I should no longer be making excuses. Let me be clear though, the goal is not perfection. A life of striving for the unreachable goal of perfection and the vain effort that leads to disappointment and discontent is also not what I want to pass on to my children. I will always be learning from Him as they are learning from me. It is my job as their mother to be seeking God always in how to do this job I’ve been entrusted with as He intends. It is my job to love Him and love my husband and love my kids in a way that is a picture to them of His love.
I learned about myself as well. I miss being able to let things go the way she still can; to be able to bounce back from the frustrating moments and still have the pure joy kind of fun with my kids we all would benefit from. I learned I CAN let go of control (even if it meant actually sitting on my hands at times and covering my mouth at other times to keep from opening it!) and it is probably healthy for me to do every now and then. I have a really hard time letting go because I like routine and order. I convince myself the kids will thrive best that way and it is my job to establish it. I now think they can learn a lot from me stepping back sometimes too and letting them figure it out. That does not mean it will be any easier to do, but I can try more. I learned that what I do is commendable, and important, and valuable to my family. Through all the talk in our home and outside of our home, not about me, but just about the role Grace was to play, I saw just how much my husband and family see me. That is a good feeling. I have spent a few days now thinking on all of these things and praying that they will change me the way Grace’s experience will cause some change in her.
Another thing this experience brought me is a smile. We have been an official family for less than a month. We have been “becoming blended” for 6 months. We have all known each other for less than a year! (In 7 days it will be a year!) But I was able to step back for a whole day and watch my kids function as a team, work with each other, love each other. The day was not without hiccups, but overall, they were a beautiful group of siblings you would assume had always been siblings. Then when David came home, watching the way a natural shift just happens as he jumps in and is an incredible helpmate and dad. I believe we are a family that was always meant to be. I love every one of these 7 kids and am so proud to be their mom. We are blessed and blended. Blessedly Blended.