Monday, October 06, 2008

My Baby Goes to Youth Group?

11 years ago, holding my sweet baby girl, I vowed to treasure each moment of mothering her, and to never wish a day away, no matter how exhausted I was. I knew, even then, that the time with my child would be fleeting, and I wanted to remember every second.

Occasionally I have broken that vow, as I prayed for bedtime's speedy arrival, or whisked them off to Nana and Papa's before collapsing in solitude, but overall I have honored that desire to relish these days. The dilemma, I've discovered, is that cherishing them doesn't make the time pass by any slower.

So this fall, I am faced with a "baby" who is in middle school, and a part of our church's youth group. Wow! How did that happen?My own memories of slumber parties, Bible study, and camp are still so vivid in my mind, it can't be possible that my own child is now creating her own history of youth group fun times. Yet, it is a fact. Cailin has a full schedule, now, of cookouts and mission trips, sleepovers and fund raisers.

We are on the verge of independence, and although I still have several years with her at home, I recognize that my days of guiding her are inevitably waning. So I examine and question my parenting, hoping that I am still training her up in the way she should go. Praying that she will retain her teachable spirit through adolescence, and learn well the lessons we impress upon her. As I watch her navigate these new waters, I am so proud of who she is becoming. So proud of what matters to her.

This weekend Cailin attended a youth group bonfire and outdoor movie with lots of girl friends, and after she was home, we held a debriefing. (This is my official name for questioning her endlessly about everything that happens to her without me. She adores this, you can imagine!)

Anyway, she told me she had received the greatest compliment ever, and I want to remember it, because it is one of those reminders that (1) she is "getting it", and (2) that God loves to delight our hearts and build us up when He knows we most need it.

The best compliment she could ever receive, her words, was given by the mother of a friend from theater. This Mom told another girl, new to Cailin's school, that she should meet Cailin because she is super nice and a friend to everyone. Wow! When she shared this with me she was literally beaming, and went on and on about how much it meant to her.

I love that an adult said this about Cailin, because my desire is that my girls be known for their character above all else. But even more, I am thrilled that Cailin esteems this as the highest compliment she could receive. Better than accolades for her beauty, athletic ability, popularity or grades, she sees making others feel good as the greatest thing to be.

It is also a gift straight from God, given to encourage Cailin after a summer of unkind things said by a neighbor, that even though untrue, hurt nonetheless. In the face of those trials, many days I was bitter and wanted to insist on apologies and making things fair. But instead I trusted in God's goodness and promise to make all things right, knowing His way would be so much better anyway. So I praise God that He orchestrated this opportunity to encourage Cailin, and reward her loving heart, and I thank Him for every chance to show her His faithfulness. God is so good!


Melissa @ Breath of Life said...

That is absolutely wonderful...that she got the compliment & recognized its value. Kudos for that adult for giving it!

I know it made Mama feel good, too ;-)

Jenny said...

I bet that really made an impression on Cailin. Sometimes compliments from others carry more weight than when they come from Mom. :)

I think it's great that she complimented her on her character. Those words will stick with her.

I read a book years ago called Silver Boxes. It is an excellent book about encouraging others through our words. The author makes the comparison of encouraging words being like little silver gift boxes tied up with a bow.

When I taught school, I kept a little silver box on my desk to remind me that my words could and should be a gift to the kids.

I try as a mom to be the encourager my girls need. But I think that I need to go find a little box and wrap it up to sit on my kitchen counter. A little reminding on long days would be a good thing. :)

Gretchen said...

Oh, I'm so feeling you. All of it. The wish for them to be known for character above else...The wish for the days to slow down. The pride and joy in Jesus for all He is within our children. I didn't have have a relationship with Him at my kids' ages. I am so excited for their nows and their futures.

Very touching post. Good for Cailin. Good for you.