Monday, August 11, 2008

Encouragement from a Stranger

Last Friday, Evelyn was able to ride on her first airplane when she and Ryan went down to SC to attend Uncle Bevan's graduation (with his Ph.D.!) from Clemson. She had been so excited about this trip and was looking forward to some special daddy/daughter time as well.

When we arrived at the airport, there were hugs and kisses to be given all around. We opened both of the van doors, so that Jefferson could see everything that was taking place because we weren't going to get him out. Evelyn gave him a hug, a kiss and an Eskimo kiss (a ritual that we go through constantly!). Jefferson then expected the same from James! James and Evelyn went through the same ritual, and then I did the same with her but held her a bit longer for my hug. Ryan and James had to say goodbye, then I had to say goodbye to Ryan. Did I remember it all?

There was a business man waiting on a bench right behind where our rituals were taking place. He was looking on and smiling, and when I caught his eye, he smiled and said, "I'm sure that you guys know how blessed you are, don't you?" I nodded and thanked him.

For all of you reading this, most of you probably have no idea how encouraging those few words were to me. When I go out to run errands with the kids, I usually get looks of disgust, rude comments or sympathetic glances. This is not because my children are poorly behaved. They do have their moments, but, for the most part, are delightful to be around. I believe that those looks and comments are passed my way when they see that I'm obviously expecting #4. Honestly, by the way that people react to my pregnancy, one would think I'm expecting #14!

Just last week, when I was at the cardiologist, a man said to me, "When I saw you head back with those three children, I really felt sorry for you!" I told him that there was no reason to feel sorry for me because I did not feel sorry for myself. I feel blessed. And I do! At the same office, I had four or five nurses/office workers tell me how well-behaved that my children are. They told me that children usually run screaming around their offices when they come. Now I felt sorry for them!

I have realized that most people expect children to misbehave, and children always rise (or fall) to meet expectations. Again, our children are not perfect, and we've had to deal with our fair share of discipline problems when we've been out in public, but they're expected to act differently. They're expected to act with respect and concern for others. They're expected to be kind to each other. They are expected to obey their parents. Those expectations seem to solve the majority of the problems, and if they don't, effective discipline is delivered to remind them the next time that they don't meet up to expectations.

I have had people say to me, "Why in the world do you want another? You already have a boy and a girl.", or "How are you ever going to do it? I cannot manage with the one (two) that I already have.", or "Did you guys plan this one?", or "You poor thing, you're going to be so busy!" Granted, I think most people are genuinely curious about our choices or saying these things to make conversation. (It is rather obvious that I'm pregnant!) I don't believe that most people intend to be malicious, but there are a few that do.

I just think it's a sad commentary that the mantra for most people is, "A boy for me, a girl for you, and, praise the Lord, we're all through!" Do I condemn those who have only one or two children? No. Do I judge them? No. But I do expect the same respect from them regarding our choices, and, often, that respect is not given. Could it be that the expectations for children are so low that people don't find joy anymore in the very thing that the Lord calls a blessing? Sure, most people will tell us that there are moments that their children bring them immense joy, but we often hear of the more mundane frustrating moments that occur on a daily basis. Is child rearing hard work? Most definitely. Do the rewards far outweigh the time spent? Most emphatically!

I've been doing a lot of thinking on this for the past several weeks (since I've been receiving a lot of comments from people), and I'm going to start doing a series of posts on what I'm thankful for with our children. I'm going to label it as Thankful Thursdays and it's going to be geared completely towards my relationships, observations and attitudes about my own children. I'm hoping that it will encourage other friends and relatives who have younger children that there is a time just around the corner when the older ones can help out immensely. I'm hoping that it will encourage me to keep track of all of those "little moments" and realize what a treasure I have with me everyday. (Yes, there are times that I forget as well!) I do not want to "despise the day of small things." I'm hoping that it will encourage my children to "continue in the things that they have learned." (James reads my blog after every entry!)

I'm aware that I tried a weekly series almost a year ago that flopped, but I really want this one to survive. I think it's extremely important for our own family to remember and rejoice in the progress that our children are making and to cherish the treasures that we've been given. I may be a day late or miss a post here and there, but my desire is to post weekly and share a specific way that our children have blessed and encouraged us or others.

I'll see you back on Thursday!

P.S. When you see another mother, offer her a word of encouragement or just a smile. Those small words or gestures go a long way towards making someone's day!


kamelda said...

Dovey, this was sincerely a blessing to read; thank you. I was thinking today of how unselfish you and the other ladies at church who have children are; I'm glad that the self denial comes with such joy. It's a huge encouragement looking on and thinking what a marathon it all will be if God ever blesses us with children (I have gone from grief to almost fear in this area, considering how much energy and change it involves!) I am looking forward to your series (& having recently discovered how to get things automatically in my gmail reader, am happy that I won't miss any of it by forgetfulness :-).

kamelda said...

(PS. That top picture of Evelyn with her suitcase is really precious)

Dovey said...

Aren't blog readers great? I don't know what I'd do without mine, although I still don't manage to keep up! :-)

Thanks for the encouragement! I was just thinking tonight that maybe I was too strong or that people would get offended. That was not my intent. I just wanted people to know that small little words of encouragement go a long way and also that children can be and are a blessing to be treasured. Anything that's worth striving for requires work, but the rewards are worth it. We will continue to pray for God's will for you both. I'm sure that it's easy to fall into both ditches that you mentioned (fear and grief), but we will pray for your rest to be in God and for Him to give you peace as well.

Anonymous said...

I know what you mean about those "looks"-I get them quite often-and I'm not pregnant! It seems like it goes both ways though-I've often felt judged by other people when I tell them we homeschool-they look at me like, "and you only have 3 children? where's the rest of them?" :) Anyway..thanks for the reminder to cherish each and every moment of these little blessings God has given to us. Looking forward to this series!

Dovey said...

Elizabeth, unfortunately that kind of judging is all too common as well. It does go both ways and that's why this was never intended to be a judgemental post just an encouragement for moms (myself included) to cherish what we have and not to grow weary in the time we are spending investing in them! Thanks for your comment! Do you still have your blog? I can't find it anymore!

Anonymous said...

Thanks Dovey! And yes, I think every mom, whether you know her or not, needs to be encouraged. I've been thinking a lot about even just the moms from church. We need to encourage each other. I too have had encouraging comments from strangers about how "well-behaved" my children were. (Yikes! How bad are the kids they are used to seeing???) Joe usually gets the comments of how blessed you are by others he comes in contact with through the week, from talking about what each other's wives do while they are gone on the road. I am just starting my own study of all the blessings and promises God gives us in Psalms. I need encouragement daily, as we all do. Looking forward to reading more of your blog.

Dovey said...

Ann, that's great that Joe's co-workers think that he's blessed to have you stay at home! Ryan's new company is much more "family-friendly" than his former company. They were more worried about being politically correct, so the announcement of #4 was not met with many congratulations! I've often wondered what kinds of children these people observe as well. Because there are plenty of times when my children are not exemplary and yet they get positive comments. I will be eager to hear how your Bible study goes and what encouragement you have to share. Are you using a help (book, website, etc.) or no?

Anonymous said...

Very well put, Dovey! Children are a blessing! Our oldest is very strong-willed and at times her behavior and the consequences for her behavior exhaust us, but I am reminded that the Lord has created her with that will for a reason and if we are faithful, it can be used to glorify the Lord Jesus! I have gotten those looks! :) I will check in on Thursday and remember things that I am thankful for!


Anonymous said...

No, I'm not using any other book or help, other than the Lord blessing me while reading the Bible. And He has truly blessed! I was able to see a whole new outlook on Psalm 1 and 2. (Obviously, it's a new study for me!) I'll try to share with everyone on Heidi's blog what the Lord has shown me. Looking forward to tomorrow evening to read what you have to share, to remind us of all the blessings those little ones can give us. :)

cj said...

We were saddened shortly after the twins were born when people would say, "Oh! The perfect family!" or "One of each, you're done right?" or "You're not having any more, are you?" What a terrible mentality! Does having a boy and a girl instantly make it a "perfect family?" No, it takes God at the center and a family dedicated to loving Him and serving Him regardless of the gender of the children and quantity! Even then, it isn't a perfect family, is it? We're sinners!

It also takes "effective discipline" as you stated in this entry. It is effective, consistent, loving discipline that produces children who obey. Some grocery check-out ladies will say, "You're so lucky to have such good kids!" Luck has nothing to do with it! It takes lots of prayer, discipline and hard work!

Thank you for being a faithful Mommy (and Daddy-Ryan!). What a joy to count you two as our friends.