Ninja Turtle Backpack

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Our twins start middle school in one week. When we were discussing the school supplies to be purchased, I asked whether their backpacks were still in good shape from last year. Tanner’s mind reeled and then his eyes widened and he said, “No way! I need a new backpack.” I was perplexed by what appeared to be a look of mortification and asked him, “Why? What’s wrong with your old one?” And then I remembered…. Last year in the 5th grade, he selected a teenage mutant ninja turtle backpack that resembled a turtle shell. 

He loved that backpack when he picked it out. He even convinced me it was worth the extra buck$ to buy it for him. And now one year later, not even in middle school yet, he intuitively knows that a turtle shell backpack is too “childish” for middle school. 

As a mom, I am both happy and sad. Happy that my young man understands what it is to mature and embrace new seasons in his life. After all, it would be odd to see a 35-yr old business man wearing a turtle shell backpack to work. A man needs to let go of things like that at some point in his life. So in that regard, I am proud of him and the young man that he is becoming. But as I stand here in happiness and pride, I also feel the tug of motherly lament. His season of little boyhood is dwindling. This puts a knot in my throat. 

Every mother knows the feeling. It’s simply beyond words. It’s hard to keep the tears from welling up in my eyes as this season in life begins to turn. But in the tears, there is also joy and admiration. I pray he continues to mature and move through life in a healthy way as every strong and successful man should. 

I joked with him and said,”Your backpack is in perfectly good shape. You really should use it.” We all giggled and imagined what that would look like on the first day of middle school. I guess that scared him a bit, because when I walked by the backpack hooks in the utility room, I noticed the space was void where that turtle shell backpack had hung all summer. I guess he hid it for fear I might not have been joking. 

To all the moms this new school year, whether it be kindergarten, college, or something in between… You’re not alone. Look up and thank God for the healthy development of your child and know that we are all shedding a few tears of mixed emotions with you.

Slip Sliding

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Got kids in school? What do your mornings look like before school and work? If it’s anything like my house, it is usually scurry, hurry, scurry and hurry some more! We have five people running different directions with a dog barking at the cat who taunts him from high places. We try to fit in a morning devotional, but sometimes it’s simply me whispering under my breath, “Lord, please help me.” It really is an organized chaos…. Well, mostly organized.

One morning we were all running later than usual. I hear my 10-year old daughter yell from her bedroom to no one in particular, “Has anyone seen my pink sneakers?” I begin to think of all the places I might have seen her favorite pink sneakers, “Living room floor? No. Entry way? No. Backyard? No. Laundry room? YES!” So I holler back at her, “Check the laundry room!”

Then I start to become even more frazzled when my 9-year old son says, “Mom, have you seen my hoodie? I can’t find my hoodie.” Now you can imagine what my self-talk was at this point. And please don’t lecture me about night before preparations. We actually do pretty good most mornings, but this was just an off day and my exasperation was growing.

As I am giving the “FIVE MINUTES UNTIL WE LEAVE!” shout-out, I am feeling like we really need to get going. In all my hurriedness, I look up and notice my daughter running through the kitchen and sliding in her socks around the corner singing as loud as she can with a big smile on her face. She gives a little jump of glee and exclaims “There you are!” as she sees her pink sneakers.

I furrowed my brow and thought to myself, “We don’t have time for such nonsense. Doesn’t she know that we are in a hurry?” And then it struck me like a lightning bolt. Time is going to pass at the same speed and we are going to accomplish the same things we need to accomplish no matter our attitude. We can be hurried and scurried or we can be happy and glad. My daughter had it down. She was being joyful and expressing glee. She was not going to focus on the fact that she could not find her sneakers. Rather, she preferred to express joy for finding them! She made me smile.

Of course we have time for such “nonsense”. I felt ashamed that I was the window for the enemy to bring impatience and frustration into our home where it did not have to be. Wouldn’t the world be a better place if we could all be as joyful as our children? All too often we trade our glee for the hurrying and scurrying of our world. And then as parents, we can sometimes use our exasperation to stifle the joy in our children’s hearts.

So the next time your child is being joyful amongst the chaos, just remember, the expression of glee is Jesus in their heart! Embrace that joyful “nonsense” and maybe sing along with them.

Luke 10:21 (NIV):
At that time Jesus, full of joy through the Holy Spirit said, “I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. Yes, Father, for this is what you were pleased to do.

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