Tuesday, May 15, 2012

::Collecting my Kids::

When I read, I read to be swept away. If the characters are rich in depth, I'm in. That's why I've never been one for manuals, textbooks, How-To's or anything of the sort. Bleck. So I really shocked myself when I went and read an entire book of secular psychology from cover to cover. I was propelled forward by the importance of the message:
We have to remember that children are in need of being oriented and we [parents] are their best resource, whether they know it or not. The more we orient them in terms of time and space, people and happenings, meaning and circumstance, uniqueness and significance, the more inclined they will be to keep us close. We must not wait for their confused look but assume our position in their life as guide and interpreter. ~p.231
I first heard of the book "Hold Onto Your Kids" {by Gordan Neufeld}, during a CAS training session. I flipped through and read that:
Our children are not manageable, teachable or maturing because they no longer take their cues from us. The result is that children are being brought up by immature persons who cannot possibly guide them to maturity. They are being brought up by each other.  ~p.6
And I thought, really, isn't this a God story? We were created to be oriented to our Creator, revolving around Him in an endless dance of satisfaction and completeness. But we lowered our eyes from the Glory, and our gaze was help by some little shiny bobble that slowly captivated us and held us enthralled. . . And kept us stunted.

What's being dealt with here is misplaced affections and bonds. Specifically, the why's and how's of the loss of our children to peer-oriented lives. The entire structure of society is now set up to weaken, and even sever the hold parents once had on their children. Kids are now being raised by other kids because attachment abhors a void.

Often I read these things and react a lot like that Pharisee. Thank you so much God, that this is in no way relevant to me. But this book offered little shining windows of warning and encouragement. My heart latched onto a particular tidbit concerning false assumptions. One of them being that the bonds with our kids only need to be diligently nurtured for the first few years to make them strong and permanent. But how can this be true when God, the ultimate parent, makes promises to always be near. He, the ever-present One actively lifted our gaze to Him. Constantly sweeping us into fellowship with his gathering-wings.

The author s term "collecting," to describe the repeated gathering-in of our kids. We "collect" babies by making faces until the smile. We "collect" toddlers by reading them stories and teaching them their letters, applauding and cheering when they finally understand. But as our kids grow older, it can all start to unravel. In a society where independence is valued, we seem to want our kids to grow up really quick. We spend less time "collecting" them, so eyes meet eyes, and smiles encourage smiles. And, often without being conscious we are doing so, we are teaching them to make it on their own.

Most of us see don't see it slipping away, I think. One day our little one is waiting for the bus with his arms wrapped tight around our neck. The next, he hops off the bus with a cheerful 'hello' and flies past to find his bike. Then comes the day he lets himself in the door, puts away his stuff on his own and quietly settles into home without you.

I've been reminded to "collect" my little people under my mama-wings in the smallest moment. Moments I have been letting go by. Collect them in the morning before they even set feet on stair. Gather them around until their groggy eyes really see me, so we can tackle the day together. Hair tussles and sleep-warmed hugs. Collect them at each meal by sitting down, no matter how many dishes need to be done so I can meet the eyes of every single one until they can no longer contain the story of their day, and it burbles out between bites from eager lips. Collect them when they return to me from being under someone else's wings. Make sure they know that the hollow place that had opened up in me when they stepped out the door was just made whole again when small arms went round my waist.

And to the mother whose child may already be untethered. Lost.
We can make is as easy as possible for the "lost" children to return and as difficult as possible for the competition to hold on to them. . . The more defiant-- the more they are indicating their need to be reclaimed. . . " ~p. 232
God is a lost-gatherer. And He never rests or sleeps while the lost are still lost. Therein is deep, deep hope. Therein is the strength to keep wings outstretched to our restless chicks so they always turn back for home.