I fondly remember how during my stay-at-home years, the girls would pull out their own mini-ironing boards and ‘iron’ with me. Beside stacks of warm, neatly folded t-shirts and their dad’s freshly pressed work uniforms they would arrange their own piles of miniature doll clothes. Kiddie cartoons would be playing in the background as we all worked diligently. It was my wonderful, albeit temporary era as a domestic diva. (Now that I work in an office full-time, my iron has not seen the light of day in over a decade; I figure the huge wrinkles in my clothes help to make the ones on my face appear smaller.)
But, back during our little house on the prairie days, impressionable eyes would study my every move . . . as I shook out a dress shirt; they would fastidiously dig in their water baby’s wardrobe and do the same. It was all serious business; it was Monday morning and this was what we did.
During their formative years we really did have a lot of structure to our days. In order to keep my sanity, I would rise before everyone and sit in the semi-dark living room with my Bible. If the girls snuck out of bed before I came to get them, they would peer around the corner, somehow thinking I could not see them. Depending on where my study was taking me, I sometimes ignored their presence but if I was being moved and wanted privacy, I would whisper, ‘I serve a jealous God,’ and they would take off down the hall back to their room.
One of our other precious rituals was our ‘Girls’ God time’. The three of us would read from a popular bible study and share. I looked so forward to hearing their take on the different topics. By the time they approached their tween years, we had worked our way through quite a few different books. One day, however, I caught them giving each other that sister look—you know, the one that silently says, ‘Are you going to tell her or am I?’
“Mom, can we both have our own devotions and journals to do our God time alone . . . like you do? It’s kind of personal.”
My heart broke—and grew—at their declaration of independence.
To have your children push away and establish their own walk of faith is wonderful—when they choose wisely—the hard part was respecting their wishes. Some would say I was wrong, that I should have forced family devotions, but I disagree. Our daily walk with the Lord should be personal, and intimate . . . if they desired time alone with Him, who was I to hoard in? After all, they chose to serve a jealous God!
As parents, along the way we have to let out the leash; letting our children make decisions according to their maturity. When they were preschoolers, I used to allow them do their own hair most days, and choose their outfits. More often than not they would combine prints with plaids, clash colours and break every fashion rule. They felt very grown up taking on this responsibility and I let them run with it . . . proud that at least their mismatched clothes were properly pressed.
Having made good choices—not counting the fashion ones—my now sixteen and twenty-year-old ironing princesses have earned fairly long ‘trust leashes’.
We are never done teaching however and God continues to give us fabulous opportunities to drill home the odd life lesson now and then. Like the other day, when I was heading out the door and they were both looking at old photos. Groaning, they asked what I was thinking, letting them dress themselves the way they did.
Pulling down on the wrinkles in my skirt, I absentminded replied as I rushed off to work, “I pray those pictures are a reminder to you both that the decisions you make will follow you. Ten years ago you chose cow print leggings with 100 Dalmatian tops; be sure that the choices you make today won’t make you cringe when you’re in your thirties.”
I guess it’s safe to say that if they choose to continue to follow my example, when they hit their forties, they will love the Lord, cherish their private time with Him . . . and be running out the door for work in matched but wrinkled outfits.
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