Fast forward one year.
School will begin in a week. We'll be shopping for school supplies, making sure there are shoes that fit, sucking the last life out of summer's freedom.
We'll be hitting a milestone as a family, too. Our first little bird will be leaving the nest to attend school outside of our home. The next year it will be another. And so it will go on.
I've been thinking a lot about what that day will be like. What is it that we need to accomplish this year to prepare for the next stage? What ground have we not covered academically, spiritually, emotionally, socially?
I'm no fool to think that there is a magic formula or a simple checklist. God has directed and equipped us. We've applied ourselves to the task- sometimes with great failure and other times with success. She belongs to the Lord. He will take her through her own roads of this life. We are trusting Him for the results.
The one thing has been on my heart recently is the need to focus on our relationship in this coming year. It is so hard at times to span the gap of ages. A three year old has drastically different needs than a preteen. It is very difficult to take off my micromanaging toddler hat and relax enough to actually listen and exchange ideas with the older kids. It would be much easier to treat them as one unit. I am guilty of this at times, yet they are growing into young ladies with their own opinions and dreams. The days of constant care are gone. Now is the time to build them up and send them out.
For this reason The Five Love Languages Of Teenagers caught my eye at the library. I was thinking that I'd just skim it through. I know my kids already, right? And certainly they know they are love.
Wow, has it been not only convicting, but instructive. It has made me much more aware of body language and responses that I am given. More than that, though, this book has brought to light my own assumption that each one of them interprets my love the same way. This simply is not true. Moreover, the things that I do not do (or do poorly- like tone of voice) actually has a negative effect on their perceptions of my love.
I've spent some time this week just asking them randomly about some of the content of this book. I've asked them two questions: "When do you feel most loved- the kind of love that makes you smile later when you think about it?" and "When/ or what has happened when you are not sure of my love for you?" They were honest with me and I am excited about the conversations that resulted.
Yes, we still have 180 of school to work through this year. There are still some loose ends that need to be tied up. But in the short time that I've been trying to love them a bit more intentionally, the response has been joyful for both of us.