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I am not an expert on child rearing and I fail a million and one times a day.  Watching my two year old cross her arms and sass back at me is because she is two, but even more than that, it is a reflection of what I show her. Daily.  My older children, when they speak, I can literally hear my own voice complete with correct intonation as they display their distaste for the current situation life is presenting them. I am still grasping at straws, trying to hold on to my sanity and reading every educational “how to” article I can get my hands on, all the while secretly wishing there was a simple instruction manual for my children.  Do this than this will happen. Don’t do that or this will happen. Every parent wants one of these, it would make life easy. 

My children on the other hand are experts on me. If there was a PhD in mom they would not only have it but be able to give in depth lectures, complete with pictures, examples and data. No manual need apply.  No article on how to deal with mom would help. They know me. They have spent every moment studying, absorbing, watching, listening and growing from me. We have all heard that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, it is also the greatest wake up call. When the imitation comes in the form of your failure, imperfection and down fall, we aren’t flattered. We are disgusted, discouraged and sorrowful. This molding a child is not working the way we had envisioned. It is hard in a I just might not survive kind of way. Our kids are oozing out of a cracked mold of our imperfection.

There is still hope. We haven’t ruined them yet! Something I think I say thousand times a day to my husband.

If I am wise I do not need to just teach my children to love. I need to study them as well as they have studied me and mimic them. No I am not going to throw a hissy fit in the middle of target because they are sold out of pumpkin spice creamer and that seemed to be the only bright part of my day. Sure I will die right here and now. We have all had that melting child in the isle. What I mean is, there is so much of this loving thing that my children know which has been lost in my adultness. Before you roll your eyes, just humor me and follow my logic for a moment.


Love big.  If you watch your child or any child for that matter, they do not just say that they love you. They use everything they have in them, from the top of their head to the tip of their toes, to express they love you.  They love big. Arms stretched as wide as they can make them to squeeze which ever portion of your body they can encapsulate first with a strength known only to body builders. Lips in position, saliva activated and rising to the brim in order to properly give you nice wet smooches that never seem to dry. A face shining so bright with love because you mean that much to them. They might just burst.

Some where along the way adults have lost this. This loving with no inhibitions.  Pushed to the way side by hurts, insecurities, social norms, and plain business of life. Now I don’t recommend that you run out in the exact manner that a child would. Those receiving your love might not like a wet kiss, being squeezed by your embrace so hard they might pop, or blinded by the joy on your face. Do however, take your child’s example and show them love knows no limits, no hesitations, and no end.  It is not one size fits all. It doesn’t have to fit in a carefully crafted box. It is given deserving or not. Love big.

Love authentic. Let me be the first and not the only one to say Pinterest has ruined us.  For all of  its good points there are so many bad. Swept up in the perfection of our Pinterest boards reality is lost. Hours slip away faster than we could imagine finding, clicking , organizing seemingly perfect ideas. What is meant to be an organizational tool has become an unreachable unrealistic standard of living. Staged and crafted moments with filters and edits taking away reality and replacing it with delusion.

Take the pin, the idea and use it. Listen to your children. They have no standard to live up to except for the one you are teaching them. No social norms that have thrust upon them until you open the door and let them in. The opportunity to teach them ideas are great, failure is a learning experience and we try again. It doesn’t have to be perfect we just have to try. The motivation behind using a pin is to help. It is ok if it doesn’t look exactly like the picture.

We have lived in the same house for 8 years. Almost 7 of which has been with children.  We know ONE neighbor. If I had opened my ears and eyes this would not be the case. For years my children have been asking “can we go to our neighbors house”? “Can we have our neighbors over?” “Can we bring our neighbors cookies?” My answer every time is…no. I am too busy. I don’t know them. The kids didn’t ask at a good time.  The excuses are endless. In truth, brutally and honestly, I just don’t care and I don’t want it to suck.


How am I to teach them to love authentically when I don’t want to. I have lost the desire to love allpeople and not just the ones I want to.

Children have authentic love. They know nothing else. Curious. Inquisitive. Excited. Real. They have not learned the things I have yet. The hurts and barriers that I have are not there yet for my children. Why not take this opportunity to teach them all those things, the bad stuff,  are not road blocks to loving someone. They are opportunities to show Christ. We don’t have to be perfect or polished. We need only to be present.

Love unending. It is so easy to get caught up in what we are shown everywhere in this day we are living. We are shown that love is a feeling. One that we fall into and then can be taken away in the blink of an eye. Love is not a feeling.  Any couple that has been married for a length of time can tell you, the warm fuzzies wear off. Love is a choice to die to self daily in service of another. Not being the right person but becoming the right one.

For a child all they know is unending. I am busy and distracted, working on all the things that I need to do in a day. Half the time I am running around like a crazy woman frantically trying to cross items off my never ending and ever growing to do list.  What I often miss in my whirlwind of “important” things is the child. The picture they drew me and are desperately trying to slow me down to show me. The mess they “cleaned” up trying to help me. The ” mom, mom, MOM”, I hear that blends into the back ground because they just want me. No matter how many times I brush them off, yell at them, belittle them,  or discipline them, they are there ready to express there love. It is never ending. This is so very hard to remember when the youngest has peed on the floor for the 27th time that day, the oldest is giving me sass that should only come from a 16 year old and not a 7 year old and my middle one is so angry I am sure his head will pop off as he leaves the room screaming. The last thing I want to do is show them my love. I don’t want to color them a picture, call there name to get their attention to spend time with me, or clean up one more mess they have created.

I need to take their actions, die to myself and show them how this love thing works.

Love and community. One of the hardest things to do as a parent is to teach your kid to love others .Not like others but LOVE them. Even at 2 my youngest gets that she doesn’t like things. I will catch her whispering ” You are stupid. I don’t like you. I don’t want to play with you anymore.” Where these are not ok words to say, she knows that something is happening and she doesn’t like it. Showing her and all my children that it is ok to not LIKE something that was done and it is not the same as not loving the person who did it. I do not like  your behavior, your choice but I still love you.
 This is the foundation of reaching out to other people.  If that kid, the one you are raising, has no love for others then they are not going to give a crap (yes I said crap you may gasp now) about anyone else.  It is easy for them to love you because you are their world serving, giving and teaching them. Sometimes seemingly to no avail. That person that is a little different than they are, the annoying kid on the bus, the next door neighbor or even the teacher they don’t like at school, those are the hard ones. Joining someone in their mess, walking with them and loving them where they are, that is what it all about. People are messy.  Having someone come beside you, join you in your mess and love on you, takes a heart for people.
 muddy mess
It is not the action but the heart.  When our heart is rightly motivated the action follows naturally and is with pure motivation. Not because we should, it is the right thing to do or we have to, but because we want to. We love because Christ first loved us. We are annoying, weird and hard to love but, HE still does.  HIS  heart is for us. ALL of us.
So I will keep encouraging my children to make cards for the sick person we read about on Facebook. I will let my oldest make a necklace for the girl on the bus who doesn’t like her. She must be sad, hurt, lonely and need someone to love on her. I will give my son unending praise as he gives up his turn and compliments his sister. I will not tell my children no when they want to do something for a neighbor. I will get out of my own way. I will follow the basics of their examples, showing them it comes from the heart. It is not earned, have requirements or taken away. It is freely given.