Faithful Daughter Author, Ami McConnel Guest Post!
My beautiful, determined sixteen-year-old daughter Maddie recently got her driver’s license. Friends ask me if I’m worried. Truth is I might be—if I wasn’t so delighted.
I’ve been driving my sweet kids around for over twenty years. My husband and I still have four living at home, so I have lots of driving ahead of me. The way I see it, Maddie’s driving is nothing short of divine grace. She can drive her sisters to lacrosse practice, run to the grocery store, and pick up that prescription.
I’ll sit and catch my breath for just a minute. Breath in this new season of motherhood.
Meanwhile my friend Claire just welcomed baby #2 into her family. This is joyful news! They’ve prayed for this for years. I cannot wait to hold that sweet baby.
But zero percent of me pines for the days when multiple littles needed me 24/7. It wasn’t long ago that I’d be so bone-tired by their bedtime, I’d fall asleep fully clothed, on top of the covers—in one of their beds! The love in my heart was enormous, but so were the demands. I packed diaper bags like a pro, kept my van (ugh) stocked with equipment for every possible scenario: wipes, sanitizers, diaper pads, change of clothes, mittens, snacks, extra diapers, plastic bags…
All. The. Things.
And all the lists! Who wore what size, who took what dosage at what time. So many things required attention.
I anticipated scenarios like a military scout, attempting to avoid spills, falls, cuts, and tantrums.
I scheduled life around naps, avoiding places that couldn’t accommodate double strollers, chose restaurants with kids meals and indoor playgrounds.This mentality became habitual. As my littles started to grow up, I found it was a hard habit to break.
A Little Frustration Is Good for Kids
The light bulb came on when I read that kids who experience frustration and solve problems without assistance are more optimistic and less prone to depression and anxiety. https://www.publishersweekly.com/978-0-395-69380-3
This was a huge eye opener for me. I realized I wasn’t responsible for smoothing the way for my kiddos. They can pack their own lunches, do their own laundry, and pick up their own shoes before the dog chews them. I need to be the “non-anxious presence” while they puzzle things out for themselves. Mistakes are par for the course.
Sometimes shoes get chewed up. And that’s okay.
When they were tiny and upset, I ran through the checklist for them: Is she hungry, angry, lonely, or tired? Then I’d meet whatever need I discovered. Now that job is theirs.
I can say, “You seem cranky. Is there something you need?”
Articulating Our Needs Is a Huge Step
Instead of forever anticipating, I need to wait while they figure out what it is they actually need/want.
My daughter might say, “I need my jersey washed, but I have too much homework.” So I say, “Okay. How are you going to handle that?” Turns out even my youngest can meet her own needs 99% of the time. Sometimes, if they ask very nicely and respectfully, I can help, I simply require a thank you. That said, my parenting goal is to work myself out of a job.
This whole idea has me thinking about Ephesians 2:14 in a new light.
“Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need and thank him for all he has done.”Ephesians 2:14
Moms have needs too.
Sometimes my challenge is getting quiet enough to identify MY need. I’m learning to say, “Hey, self, you seem cranky. What do you need?”
Today, it was a walk to clear my head.
Then I needed to ask for help getting dinner in the table.
I needed to call a friend.
I needed ice cream.
Maddie, my new driver, volunteered to help with that last one. If I’m honest, this growing up thing is working out pretty well all around. I am all about the ice cream.
And someone else going to get it.
Ami McConnell is a Nashville-based writer & editor. Her latest book is Faithful Daughter: True, Inspiring Stories Celebrating a Mother’s Legacy and Love. She founded and directs WriterFest Nashville. McConnell formerly served as Editor-in-Chief and VP of Howard Books/Simon & Schuster. She acquired novels for HarperCollins for over a decade and helped launch an imprint there. Her editing credits include many New York Times bestsellers as well as numerous award winners. A prolific ghostwriter, McConnell co-authored the USA Today Bestseller Kind Is the New Classy by Candace Cameron Bure. She lives with her family in Franklin, Tennessee.
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