As a young parent, I used to think this parenting journey would be filled with creating learning experiences that would teach and train my children. If I read all of the best books and blogs, I would know exactly how to raise my children “right.” Throughout the years, I have realized that this parenting journey is in reality co-learning with my kids. Daily they teach me just as much, if not more than I teach them. Full disclosure: in case I falsely create a misconception that I am a Momma who creates Pinterest worthy crafts and sweet treats with her kids, let me set the record straight: my kids thrive when they create, and with a healthy dose of growth mindset and setting aside my own anxiety of messy projects, we embarked on our second year of baking Christmas treats and creating homemade ornaments for grandparents. Through this experience, my children taught me an important lesson that not only applies to snowflake ornaments, but also to parenting unique children and experiencing God’s glory in the process.
Our oldest daughter loves to create anything and everything and embraces utilizing any types of art supplies. This year, she embraced the role as the leader of our Christmas crafts. She has such patience for leading her siblings with the process of creation and such a teacher’s heart for taking the projects step by step. As she led us through the process of creating snowflake crystal ornaments, the Lord taught our hearts about the unique ways He has created us and how to embrace the process of growing new skills. The fascinating part about this experience was watching the reactions and interactions between our other three kids as they participated in the experience.
Our younger daughter is a natural baker. She finds so much joy in watching baking shows, researching recipes, pouring through cook books, and trying out different techniques in the kitchen. She regularly reminds me to clear off the excess batter or to make sure our piping bags are ready to decorate the delicious cupcakes and cookies. While working on making sure her pipe cleaners where set into place just right to create her snowflake ornament, she sighed and said, “I am just not great with art. Someone always has to come behind me and fix my mistakes. I never get it right the first time.”
As soon as she said this, I had to pause and allow her words time to process in my mind. She is such a creative, growth mindset oriented baker. She loves to experiment with new recipes and soaks up new baking techniques like a sponge. I didn’t realize that this artistic love for baking didn’t transfer into her confidence with other art forms. I made sure to make eye contact with her and reassured her that anytime we learn something new, we benefit from someone else coaching us along the way, helping us see the beauty in our attempts and helping us learn new ways of doing things. Although her joy comes from creating treats, she can also be confident as she creates other things in her life.
Creating these crystal ornaments out of pipe cleaners and borax, reminded me of the simple, but profound truth: just as no two snow flakes are the same, neither are any two children. As a momma of four unique, strong willed, creative children, they all express their creativity in unique, but equally valuable ways. I am so grateful for the unique ways the Lord fearfully and wonderfully made each one. In our comparison culture, we seem to value making sure all of our kids meet a specific mold. I have to continually remind myself that this isn’t God’s plan. He has a unique plan for our each of our kids and never makes mistakes. It’s through their unique characteristics that we get to see glimpses of His creative glory unfold!
A dear friend of mind recommended the book Different Children, Different Needs by Dr. Charles F. Boyd. Boyd offers excellent perspective on parenting the unique children God has trusted us with fairly, but not equally. He offers as fascinating paraphrase of the popular verse Proverbs 22:6, a common verse included in parenting blogs and books, “Adapt the training of your child so that it is keeping with his natural design; when he comes to maturity, he will not depart from that pattern of life” (p. 18).
Sometimes when my eyes read familiar verses, I breeze past the deep truths out of familiarity with the content. To stretch my thinking, I kept Boyd’s paraphrase in mind as I re-read the verse in the Message translation: “Point your kids in the right direction–when they’re old, they won’t be lost.” This made me reflect on each one of my kids. They are so creative in different, but equally valuable ways. Our oldest loves to create with different art mediums. Our second born is always creating something new in the kitchen. Our third child is constantly sketching something new. The boy could definitely be an author and illustrator some day! Our youngest tells the best stories with such imagination and when he plays, the script he creates in his mind comes to life! If I tried to pigeon hole my kids to channel their artistic abilities in the same way, they might feel stifled and inaccurately believe they lacked creativity. Through being an observer of my kids and trying to see the world through their eyes, I am beginning to embrace what sets their creativity on fire and point them into the right direction, so they won’t feel lost.
In every season so far as a Momma I have struggled with the comparison trap. Whether it’s making sure they were sleeping as well as they should or growing physically, mentally, socially, emotionally, and spiritually as they should. Every where I turned there seemed to be this unattainable measure of success as a parent. I felt like a failure when one of my kids didn’t seem to fit “the mold” and trajectory as other kids. Like my sweet baking daughter, I questioned why I couldn’t get it right the first time, and why I needed to continue to refine my strategies and fix my mistakes. I am beginning to embrace the unique ways the Lord has created each of my children and instead of worrying about their differences, I am learning to embrace and celebrate their differences. Embracing the uniqueness of the students I work with seems more natural to me, but I want to extend that same grace to my own children.
That’s where this blog fits into my small space of the internet. I want to share how the Lord is helping me to embrace the differences between my own children and the children I am blessed to teach, and to recognize the ways the Lord demonstrates His glory in their uniqueness. If you want to also embrace the differences, and set down feelings of guilt or shame that our society tries to pour out on us, come join me. Let’s find the joy in watching our kids grow on their own unique paths and watch the Lord grow their hearts and lives. His glory will be revealed in the process.