Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Thankless

Such a thankless job, parenting. If you are reading along here, you likely know this to be true. We work for our families day and night; washing clothes, cleaning the house, wiping noses and brushing hair. We read repetitive books, draw with chalk, sweep up Cheerios, and change more diapers than we can count. While we do this all out of love for our kids, the reality is that very seldom do we hear a word of gratitude. While we may not work in hopes hearing it, sometimes the silence is deafening.

When Elizabeth came home from China, Noah was 7, Benjamin was 6 and Josiah was 2. From the outside looking in, we had a bunch of very young children. They seemed close in age and while it was very busy, we loved being surrounded by all those little kids.

I am not sure how I didn't see it coming, but honestly, I had no idea that someday we would have a kindergartner, a first grader, a fifth grader and a middle-schooler, ALL AT ONCE. What looked like a pile of little precious, people 5 years ago turned into a busy bunch of beloved babies, growing, grown and going in a million directions at once. On a regular day, I can find myself reviewing letter sounds, teaching spelling words, refining leadership skills and contemplating the effect of hormones on a preteen mind. There is a span to it that leaves me both loving my varied life and wishing for a nap.

Last week was busy and stressful, to be sure. The end of the academic quarter necessitated a lot of tests and Mark and I both helped children finish projects, review for quizzes and get ready to wrap the whole thing up. Most of the kids handled the schedule fine. The older boys, who have more things due at the end of a quarter, had a harder time. We reviewed good study skills and tried to help them stay organized. By the end of the week, it was unraveling for Noah. While he does well in school, keeping track of all that is needed takes up a lot of room in my boy's head. He was tired and weary and worn.

A fresh start is good for everyone. Tuesday, school returned and with it came a new quarter and new classes and new assignments. But before we could jump into all that, I sat with Noah on Monday night and asked to see his assignment book. We went over ways to make it work better for him... ways to think it through and track his work so he does not feel overwhelmed by details slipping by. I offered him an incentive to stick to it and told him I would ask to see it on Tuesday night.

He was excited after school the next day to show me what he had done. I looked and listened and encouraged him to keep it up. He went about his day and I went about mine... books to read, dinner to cook, kids to hug and some to scold.

Before I go to bed, I always go and look in on the kids. I love to watch them sleep. I will stand in their rooms with a little flashlight, cover them up and pray for them, one by one. Last night, I did just that. Elizabeth had a hard night and I spent a few minutes praying in the dark by her bed. Then I tip-toed quietly into the boys room and did the same. Prayed for their friends, their difficulties, their gifts, their spouses-to-be. And then I headed off to bed.

You know, by now, that in the hallway hangs a dry erase board that I use to write notes and reminders and words of encouragement to my kids. As I passed this board, I noticed a bit of handwriting that was not mine.

It read, "Thanks for helping me with my assignment book. It made my day a lot better."

I stood in the hall and smiled. Yes, this is a thankless job. Maybe that's okay because when one comes, spoken or written or whispered, oh it tastes so sweet.

Little things matter... they matter a lot. And what you did today made a difference to those you love the most. Whether they said thank you or not.

Blessings on your day.

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