One of the hardest things I've ever done as a parent is letting Kayci go to Kindergarten that very first day. It took so much faith to leave her in a stranger's hands for 7 hours...waiting in car line that day for her little face to appear at the door, I didn't realize I was holding my breath until I saw her. I was so scared to let her go...to be on her own, in so many ways, for the whole day. Four and a half years later, we have new things to worry about as parents, but even back then I had enough worries to keep my mind busy.
My focus has changed since then, and I find I worry less.
Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. Matthew 6:34
I realized this week, though, that even though I don't worry, necessarily...there are some things I need to think about. Be afraid of. Guard against.
I tried to articulate this to the MOPS group yesterday, but I think I failed miserably. I don't know that I can do it here, but I wanted y'all to think about this, too.
Wednesday morning, Kayci and I got crossways as we were in carline, waiting to drop her off. It was over something silly (Disneyland v. Disney World) and she got huffy. So I got huffy. And when she got out of the car, it was clear she was pretty happy to get away from me.
That's not the first time we've ended our mornings like that. I'd say it happens once a week, maybe a little less. But it always feels TERRIBLE.
This particular morning, I was fighting an ear infection so I had plenty of time to think and pray as I waited at the doctor's office, waited for my prescription...you get the idea. A verse that really resonates with me came to mind:
Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. 1 Peter 8:5
Sidebar: when I first started on my Christian walk, I had a really, really hard time thinking about the devil as anything other than a cartoon. But I've come to realize that he's real and hard at work in our world, our lives. I try not to help him out too much, but I find that I have to recognize his evil in order to see God's good...if that makes sense.
Anyway, think about that verse. Our family is the herd--there's strength in numbers. If we stick together and move in a coordinated direction, predators have less chance of taking one of us down. But when Kayci and I argue, she pulls away from me. Or, in this case, pulls away from the herd to get away from me. This leaves her exposed, alone...at risk. When she gets out of our car and heads into school feeling like the last thing she wants to be is like me, the last place she wants to be is in our family...she's open to whatever lies anyone wants to tell her that day.
Think about middle school...if we have one of "those days" and then one of her friends says, hey, let's get out of here--nobody's at my house. What if she says yes, to spite me? What if she says yes, because she feels unappreciated? And if that kid's a boy...what if she says yes because she feels unloved? Shudder, right?
All of this was on my mind Wednesday morning as I dealt with my ear...and I've been praying about it since. The first thing that was clear was that our morning routine had gone to pot this week, with everyone getting around late and then rushing, which often leads to snipping at each other and even arguing. The second thing that stung a bit more was realizing that we bought Jesus Calling for Kayci, but I haven't taught her how to make a devotional part of her routine. OUCH. I know that I don't do well without my quiet time in the morning--why would she be any different? So Daddyboy and I talked about how we can get some Jesus into our mornings.
After school on Wednesday, Kayci got into the car so happy. This is pretty normal, but on days when we part on not-so-happy terms it seems amplified. I realized that it's probably a relief for her to physically be back in with the herd after fending for herself all day...and on those days, even more so. It's like she breathes a sigh of relief, literally, when she climbs into the car. And I do, too. This just confirmed what I'd been thinking and praying about.
When she got out of the car for piano, she turned around and said, "I love you." That was the BEST part of my day, for sure. After piano, we had a few minutes together and I shared with her what I'd been thinking and praying about. We talked through the analogy of our family, the herd, and predators, I showed her the verse and talked to her about how I feel when we argue in carline, and how I think it could affect her day (I left out the middle school boy part, of course). She really got it. I kept it to a herd of gazelles and a hungry lion, no need to fill her mind with human predators. She doesn't really need to know the evil lurking in the 4th grade hall, right? (Kind of joking.)
Kayci decided she wants to do her devotional at breakfast. This works well for us, and yesterday I handed her my phone and she looked up the Bible verses on our drive to school. We'll see how it goes, and adjust if necessary. But one thing is clear: we're definitely keeping Jesus in our routine. Kayci may not physically be safe with our family when she's at school and apart from us, but she can be close to us emotionally--I think that will make all the difference.