Monday, January 3, 2011

Celebrating Progress

Right now, Ruthie is in full-on explorer mode. My busy little bug loves to clean my floors by locating every single tiny particle of anything to insert in her mouth.  She delights in locating Jake’s water bowl.  Shoes?  Why, they’re a tasty snack!  And any time she disappears, even for a moment, there’s a good chance I’ll find her playing in the potty.  (Thankfully, Phoebe is hyper-vigilant about flushing.)

For me, this is one of the hardest stages of early childhood from a parenting standpoint -- the constant watching and training, the redirecting, the lack of communication skills, all of it.  We obviously survived this stage with both of the other girls, but I remember it being very, very difficult.  I mean, you can only contain the child for so long during a day... right?

For Nora especially, this stage was a real struggle.  Training her was really, really hard because even the tiniest amount of discipline would send her into a ten-minute-long explosion of tears.  Fortunately, none of the big girls are now aimlessly wandering into the bathroom to play in the potty, eating things off the floor (at least most of the time), nor are they trying to lick the bottom of their shoes.  We have made progress!

I’m reading a lovely little book right now called Loving the Little Years: Motherhood in the Trenches.  It was a Christmas gift, and I picked it up the other day as I collapsed on the couch, desperate for some encouragement.  What a rich, happy book this is so far!  At any rate, the author said something that really struck me:  “It is very easy for us to forget about the progress [our children] make and to ignore the problems they no longer struggle is very easy to demean their progress by demeaning the struggle.” - Rachel Jankovic in Loving the Little Years: Motherhood in the Trenches

Oh, how I tend to do this!  I’m so busy noticing the thing that needs training that I forget that we’re no longer struggling with shoe-eating and basket-dumping.  Our children are overcoming very real temptations, and I fail to celebrate them!  I am purposing to notice, to recognize, and to tell our girls when they are overcoming temptation -- they need to see it, and so do I.

But then I realized:  that’s exactly what I do with myself.  I envision this perfect woman, and then I start deducting points from myself for all of my demerits:  dust bunnies in corners, stacks of papers and books on top of the china cabinet, sharp tongue, poor use of time, or whatever the failure of the moment may  be.  I certainly don’t look like the Proverbs 31 woman... and yet, the Lord is doing a work in my heart.  But He is in fact doing the work of sanctification, even if it’s slow (by my standards) and difficult for me to recognize.  I’m going to purpose to see His work -- in the hearts of my Littles and in my own heart -- and celebrate the sanctification, not groan at the work left to be done.


Jenny said...

Thank you for the reminder...I will be smiling a little bigger as I approach my to-do list today. I had been feeling a little overwhelmed.

Love you!!

Laura Gail said...

Great post! I forwarded to a couple of my girlfriends and one cried. I want to get that book.