Before I had kids, I remember having a conversation with a young mom. It was one of those conversations that sunk straight into my soul and I knew that for some reason, I was to remember it. This mom and I were talking about her young children who were about three and four at the time. She mentioned that they loved to play and wrestle and that her husband often did that with the kids. I asked her if she did as well (fully assuming that she did), and she said something that I will never forget. She said, "Oh no, that isn't really my thing."
I have thought about that conversation many times in my last nine years of parenting. You see, sometimes we just need to do things because it will build into the hearts of our children. Sometimes we need to do an activity because it will fill a soul. Sometimes we need to do things because it makes our children smile and giggle and it will build the invisible bonds of the parent-child relationship.
This all came to mind as I put the boys to bed tonight.
I love my boys. I never, ever wanted to be a mom to boys and in all honesty, it took me about two years to come to terms with the fact that I had a son. Now, I can't imagine life without them. I adore their energy and enthusiasm and zest for life. I love their fascination with sports and legos and flexing their muscles. I love to watch them "just be boys" and I am thrilled to be a part of raising them. But being a mom to boys doesn't come naturally to me.
I am not a rough-and-tumble, loud, high-energy person. My idea of a perfect day involves a lot of quiet, a lot of books, and a lot of sipping hot drinks. I was never a real "girly-girl" and yet male humor and activities have never really gotten me excited, either. However, I want to have the heart of my boys. I want to have cords of connectedness so strong that nothing can break them. I want their hearts to be in tune with mine and I want to be someone they long to be with. And that means doing things that don't necessarily come naturally and doing things that "aren't really my thing."
As I tucked the boys into bed tonight, I had to "find" one who was hiding in his brother's bed, I "captured" one as he struggled to get free, I was tackled, I growled like a tiger, I pretended to cry when they said—in fits of giggles—that they didn't love me, I knocked them on the head, I smothered them with kisses, and I filled their little boy-souls with rough and tumble love and laughter. And I didn't do it because it is "my thing." I did it because it fills their heart and I hope that hundreds upon hundreds of these little memories will merge into one big memory that will allow them to say, "I had a happy childhood."
Sometimes being a parent involves us stepping our of personality, out of our comfort places, out of what's easy and into a place where our actions can really communicate with our children's hearts. We have to be willing to let go of our desires and our natural inclinations and instead meet our kids where they are. Tonight, it was being silly with rowdy boys. This morning it was with an almost-nine-year old who hates math and was in tears clinging to me saying, "I just want to be with you!" This afternoon it was playing pig on the basketball court and praying I would make it so one of the boys wouldn't be out again. No doubt tomorrow it will be with a certain three-year-old who will bring be an infinitely high stack of books I have read too many times. Saying yes doesn't always come easily or naturally, but I pray each day that God will enable me to do what is best for the five little hearts I am responsible for.
Please Lord, let me say yes and do whatever it takes to hold onto their hearts, even if it "isn't my thing."