I am a book junkie- it's a problem. I read everything. I read while in the bath, while blowing my hair, while working out on a treadmill, while my kids play in the sandbox, I read. I read when I should be sleeping because when else can I finish my book?
One of my favorite quotes from any book I ever read is this, "You is kind, You is smart, You is important." From Kathryn Stockett's book, "THE HELP", a maid named Aibileen Clark says this daily to the small child she is raising. And it has stayed with me years later, millions of written words later, this small simple sentence with poor grammar still makes my grow heart warm.
I read this book for the first time when I had a two year old baby and I had just miscarried again at 14 weeks. I was devastated, depressed, and feeling so frustrated. I wanted another baby to add to my family, and I kept dwelling on my losses. But as I learned to love Aibileen and Minny as so many who have read this book, I was struck by my incredible blessings. I had a beautiful daughter who brought me incredible joy. This was something so many people struggle for and wish for and I had Blake, and she was mine. I decided then and there that no matter how many children I had, I would teach them each that they were kind, important, smart, and loved.
I started making a more conscious effort to praise her, not incessantly and to the degree that she believes she is infallible, perfect, and deserves a small crown upon waking every morning. But I wanted her to know my love was constant and that she was a good smart person. Not a perfect person, but an important person.
Once when she was about three and I really got mad at something she did, I lost my temper (shocking, I know). At the end of lengthy talk about why her behavior was completely unacceptable, she looked at my with watery eyes and tear-stained cheeks and she asked, "Do you still love me?"
Firmly, clearly, I responded, "Blake, no matter what you do, how many bad choices you make, and how sad I am, I will always love you." But her fear shook my parenting core. I realized I needed to use both the positive and negative times to reaffirm that she is a good, kind, smart person whom I love. When I am proud of her, I try not to praise the behavior but her character, focusing on the beautiful person behind said accomplishment. When I am disappointed in her, I try to focus on the good, kind person who made poor choices and who I am sure feels terrible (even when she doesn't).
There is nothing more refreshing to be around than someone who recognizes the special gifts of their children. Notice I didn't say their accomplishments or trophies- I am not talking about the mom who is constantly using her child's early milestones as bragging rights for a superior gene pool! But the mom or dad who sees something special and unique in their child and embraces and loves it.
My husband and I just returned from a Disneyland trip (amazing) and my dad and mom came with us. My dad snapped this picture of my middle child that describes her perfectly. (This was taken during the California Adventure Evening Parade and I recommend everyone who goes there partakes in the Parade- PRICELESS)
I want to be the kind of person who reminds my children often that they are kind, smart, and important. But I need to be the kind of person who tells them why. As children of God first long before they were children of mine, they were blessed beyond measure with gifts of grace and love. They have unmeasurable potential in life and in eternity. They are heavenly spirits whom I have been given to raise and to nurture.
I hope I can always remember, especially on the hard days, the amazing spirits that reside in my home and treat them as such.
When they are screaming, fighting, tired, grumpy, and refusing to eat the many meals I prepared, I hope I can still find moments to let them know, "You is kind, You is Smart, You is Important."