Years ago I attended a MOPS convention (Mothers of Preschoolers) where I had the opportunity to hear amazing women speak on a variety of mothering topics. One class in particular resonated with me and the message has stayed with me through these last 8 years. She spoke on the importance of letting our children serve as “teachers” rather than “trophies.” Children are not given to us so that we can prove to the world our own value through their talents, gifts and good manners. I will be honest, this is something that I have always struggled with. I am a people pleaser, I am a controller, I crave approval, I’m a “typical” first-born child that assesses my value and worth by the comments of others..it is a sin that I struggle with. Knowing this is a sin I struggle with I have tried hard to remember the words of that speaker and remember that these children that Heavenly Father has blessed me with came to me not to be a trophy that I could hold up to the world and say, “See, look at how good a mother I am,” but rather teachers that would helped me learn and grow and become a more Christlike woman. None of my children have served as a teacher more greatly than Tyler. From him I have learned the lessons of patience, humility, and unconditional love. This week’s lesson: Letting go of the things I can’t control and trusting God.
Last week we received a call from a friend with some exciting news. The first counselor of the Primary general presidency of our church was going to be in the area with other church leaders to do auxiliary training with local leadership and she wanted to bring Sister Jean Stevens to our home to meet our two primary age children, Rusty and Tyler, and to share more about Tyler’s story and our adoption journey. While thrilled at this opportunity I also felt the weight of dread settle in the pit of my stomach as I considered all that could go wrong with her visit. I just never know what I will get with Tyler. Some days he is all joy and giggles and other times we spend the day working through the scars of his past with tears, frustrations and visits to the fence post for time-out. I was kept awake at night with visions of him throwing dishes, having a meltdown over having his picture taken, or him hiding under the bed refusing to come out. I became even more concerned as the week went on and I tried to prepare him for the visit by telling him that some special ladies were coming to visit him on Friday and he would respond, “I think I’m going to be busy that day.” 🙂 After days of fretting and many sleepless nights worrying about what may happen or what he might say I finally knelt down and gave it to God. I prayed and prayed..not for a perfect child (although I was hoping that we wouldn’t be visiting the fencepost while they were here) but that these women would see in this little boy what I see.
God has brought me so far as a mother..(although I still have so far to go!). Through Tyler He has helped me see that I don’t need others to view me as a good mother as much as I once did. He has humbled me and has taken me from the woman who would watch a child having a meltdown in the grocery store with such judgement in my heart to the woman with the child having the meltdown. I could cry when I think of the many times I have passed judgement in my heart on another woman’s parenting or another child’s behavior without knowing their story or the scars they carry. I am now walking in those shoes and often feel the judgement of others as my son screams and throws himself down on the floor in anger. It has been a lesson in humility and letting go of the need for other’s approval and I am grateful for that lesson…that hard, hard lesson.
Friday arrived and I felt more at peace. I recognized God’s hand in this visit. This wasn’t something I sought out so I had to trust that God had a purpose in it. When the car pulled down the driveway with Sister Stevens in it the kids were feeding the animals. After first greeting me Sister Stevens, Laura, Kaye and Ken then went to the fence to greet the kids. Tyler did not want to say hello initially but quickly warmed up to them and began showing off his animals. He brought them the pig and a chicken to meet and then disappeared into the chicken co-op. He soon came back carrying two of the chicken eggs he collects and sells to others. He handed an egg to Sister Stevens and my friend Laura. I was so surprised by how quickly he warmed up to our guests and his desire to bless them with a gift of love..an egg.
I asked if we could get a picture with our special guest but Tyler didn’t want to join us.
He was busy trying to catch one of the goldfish that lives in our water trough to show our new friends. While he was working on that we headed inside to get out of the sun and have a cold drink while we visited. We had a wonderful visit and Sister Stevens was amazingly gracious. Soon after we moved inside Tyler came in carrying a bucket with one of the goldfish to show Sister Stevens.
Tyler didn’t want to sit and visit. I think he was afraid of the questions that would be asked of him. Sister Stevens did ask him what he liked about primary to which he promptly responded, “nothing!” *Cringe* but he was eager to make our guest feel welcome. Without any prompting on my part he carried sliced lemon bread in on a tray and proceeded to place the bread on napkins to hand out. The ladies lovingly accepted his offering without any comment about the dirty little boy hands that were grabbing the bread and handing out the slices. As I watched I thought to myself, “Oh, if they only knew how huge a love offering this was from him.” He then gave Sister Stevens a gifts of chocolate covered pretzels from our local candy store that he had picked out. She asked him if he wanted to open it for her which he eagerly agreed to.
While sitting in the livingroom the other kids had a chance to visit with Sister Stevens as well. She was so generous with her attention, questions, and the interest she took in each of the children, making them each feel special. She asked Rusty about primary and what he enjoyed. He didn’t answer, “nothing.” 🙂 Thank goodness!
It was soon time for them to go and head to another meeting. We said our goodbyes and Sister Stevens hugged each of the older kids goodbye. Tyler wouldn’t come out and instead yelled “goodbye” from the other room but as I saw this lovely, classy woman walking toward the car, carefully carrying that dirty farm egg from Tyler, I counted my blessings. I couldn’t have imagined things going as well as they did. While not perfect or ideal according to my “pre-Tyler” mothering standards it was a beautiful, blessed visit by Heavenly Father’s standards. Here is a little boy who has come so far in his journey..a little boy who came to us broken, scarred and with very little to call his own..giving the ultimate token of his love to a stranger.. the gift of an egg…a gift from his heart…and for me, the gift of another lesson learned.