Thursday, June 07, 2007

Letters from Jeff

We heard from Jeff this week. No new photos, but lots of good news. He is doing very well and loves the experiences he is having. He seems untroubled by homesickness, and is handling the day-to-day challenges he is having quite well. He had to go to the dentist yesterday, and while I haven't heard how it went, I know he'll be fine. He was able to take care of all his preparatory dental work pretty much on his own last year. He had his wisdom teeth pulled while he was out in Provo at school, so he's had some experience doing adult things like this. I'm glad he was so motivated and independent before hand, when I was available to help him if he needed it, so that now he's not fazed by having to take care of these kinds of situations with no availability of parental help.
Being a selectively neglectful mom always gives me mixed feelings-should I do more for them? Is it really okay to let them wear dirty clothes because they didn't get their laundry done??? I'm sure I've made the wrong decisions at times and not done enough for them, but seeing Jeff have real-life success with adult life helps me see that there's wisdom in letting them find out how much they can do without my help. It requires supression of pride and selfishness from me, because a great deal of motherly validation comes from knowing your kids need you as well as from turning shiny, happy, attractive little evidences of motherly skill out into the world for all to see. When others find out that Evan chooses to wear the same socks for a week, what must they think of me? I have finally gotten to the point where I don't mind what they think of me. I know I've taught him better than that, but the time comes when I have to let him choose for himself. Hopefully if I give them leeway in largely unimportant areas like socks, I can still wield some influence in the areas from which I will not budge, like morals and modesty.
From the time Sara was a wee bairn, she has not wanted my input on her appearance. I could never touch her hair and she started rejecting my choices for clothes at the age of 3. But, it seemed that as long as she had the freedom to wear pretty much any combination of colors and styles, I was able to put my foot down about sleeves and skirt lengths and tightness. I could live with that. Sure, I would have loved for her to always look so pretty and perfect. I knew she would be my only girl. It was hard to see her walk out the door totally mismatched and looking like a gypsy. The trade-off is that from the time she was two, she's known that sleeveless, short and tight are not options, but just about anything else is. She was a modest gypsy. Now she has developed her own cute style. More important to me is that we do not argue about modesty. In fact just the other day she brought me a darling dress she gotten as a hand-me-down from a friend. It was strappy and short and she came to me with a list of alterations and solutions already in hand so she could wear it. She didn't even think to wear it as is. I was so proud of her. So, in spite of my mostly imperfect parenting, my temper, and my sometimes disorganized ways, there are successes in my mothering life that show me that my kids are being blessed and that powers beyond my own are taking up the slack caused by my worrisome weaknesses. If they need me, they know I'm here, but I'm glad that their source of strength comes from knowing they can handle every-day life.

5 comments:

  1. You know, I strive to be selectively neglectful as well. I think it's so much better -- I learned a lot from my parents, just by them not doing everything for me. Leah dresses herself every day and we get some pretty interesting outfits as a result. Everything is appropriate, just because she's 4 and that isn't on her radar yet, but when she is wearing a skirt over jeans and a mismatched shirt... I just have to laugh!

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  2. I have appriciated out talks we've had regarding this subject - it's validated my decision to not force any sorts of "organization" of Sheely's appearance besides YES wash hair before church and YES modesty. Other than that, it's basically a free for all :)

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  3. I love reading the thoughts of an experienced mother!! I'm just at the point where Evalyn is insistent at what she wears. I really like what you say that if you enforce the modesty then she can choose the rest.

    Re Elder Nuss, I'm sure everyone he associates with is glad for what he learned from what you didn't do for him! :)

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  4. Great mom post. I loved reading it.

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  5. This post reminded me of a quotation I try to mutter to myself from time to time: A mother is a teacher, not a servant.

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Thank you for sharing your insights!