In the past year my kids have taught me a lot. They’ve taught me new things and also made me come face to face with things I already knew about myself. They’ve changed me in some ways and molded me in others. I know I have much more to learn from these guys, as do they from me. But this first year with them, and first year a parent (don’t forget they were already 5, 7, and 9 years old, oh and they spoke Spanish) I’d say we’ve done ok. We kept a lot of it written here, but I wanted to share some things I’ve learned.
1. That I’m really selfish
This is probably the biggest thing I’ve learned about myself. I say it at least once a day, either out loud or in my head. I think noticing it is half of the battle, but moving out and away from it takes so much intention. Often at the end of the day there’s not much fight in me left to be unselfish so it just happens. I think that half of the remainder of this list stems from that, being selfish. We are so wired this way, and children remind me that it’s a daily “take up of your cross” and follow Him.
2. That I have my Dad’s temper
Man do I get mad easily. And over tiny things! Like sit on your BUTT on the couch tiny things! Like quit feeding the dogs crayons tiny things. Like quit talking with food in your mouth tiny things. I get mad over big things too. Please don’t steal toys from Church, not cool. Please don’t hit your sister on the head with a baseball bat. Please don’t lie to my face about something every 30 minutes. I get mad about big stuff. Now that I think about it my Dad honestly didn’t have too much of a temper. My mom was/is very soft spoken, compared to him. I just remember if he got mad it was loud and quick and I’m louder and quicker.
3. Joy everyday is optional and something to work at
See point 1. Selfish. Joy and Selfishness don’t play well together. The more selfish I am the less joy I have. My Joy should always come from Jesus, daily, monthly, yearly. It takes a lot of work to be joyful. I feel like I’m in a boxing ring with Satan fighting for my joy each day. A lot of days I loose, usually when I try to do it myself instead of letting the Lord fight for me.
Exodus 14:14 “The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still.”
If you haven’t seen the movie War Room add it to your to do list. A friend of mine once said about adopted kiddos, that before they were a part of your family Satan thought he had them in his hands, and now that you’re showing them Jesus everyday he will fight you even harder for them.
4. I’m not a snuggly, huggy, person
Ok so I knew this one while Nick and I were dating. I used to be. Like it got me in trouble in youth group a few times as a teenager. Not exactly sure where I turned the corner but I’m quite the opposite of that now. I don’t like that I’m that way. My kids literally ask me “mom can I have a hug please?” and I feel Terrible! Terrible! These kids were literally not spoken to as babies and young kids, let alone hugged and yet I can’t get through my personality walls and give them a freaking hug! Get with it Jenn! They’ve taught me I need to work on this. Karen Purvis and the Empowered to Connect team recommend people need 8 meaningful touches a day. Do spankings count? Just kidding, but really that’s a lot of hugs, pats on the backs, kisses, x3 plus Nick! I’m working on being better at this.
5. I’m always on Nick’s side no matter what
I think this one comes from the fact that I’ve known him longer, duh, and that we’re husband and wife. I think this one is right where it should be. The kids are pretty good to not manipulate us against each other. If they even try, it never works, because we are on the same team. I think I knew it before but now that we have the kids it really shows.
6. I’m actually very organized
I knew I was organized. Ok some people call it OCD, whatever, I call it organized. Maybe extremely organized. You might laugh at this when it comes to “my house will never be clean” mentioned below. Rather I was before or not, going from 0 to 3 kids would probably force organizational traits on about anyone in our shoes. We have an actual picture chart numbered 1-5 on our wall when you enter the house. They have wakeup and bedtime routines in their rooms. They have shoe drawers, clothes dividers, hampers, everything for everybody is organized as best we can. I feel like this is one way I stay afloat and can catch my breath when things get crazy. At least I know mostly where things are and ideally they know what they should be doing during peak transition times and other important times like homework time. We are also very consistent with them, it helps tremendously, but in order to be the most efficient at our consistency we have to be 1) a team and 2) organized.
7. What hard work looks like
I am a hard worker. My parents were/are hard workers. Nick is a very hard worker. But yall… these three.. they are Hard Workers! They stinkin learned a new language in under a year. They’ve been through a lot of crap in their short lives and could be completely different than they are, and we would totally understand. But they work hard. They don’t always love school, and who does? But they work hard to please us, to love us, to be nice to others, to learn new things and new expectations, and then live up to them. Wow! I give them a hard time some days but I hope they see how proud of them I am they amaze me, period.
8. That I complain a lot
You know that saying “if I had a quarter every time someone said ___” ? Well if you had a quarter every time you heard me complain you’d be rich. If you lived in my head you’d be really rich. I guess God is really rich, because he gets it the most. Nick is a close second. He never complains by the way, like never, I’m serious. I think this is another one that follows right in line when I’m selfish. I didn’t have enough time to finish something today. I had to get up really early this morning. I had to pack 3 lunches and forgot mine. Dumb stuff yall, seriously these are the things I complain about. Not big things, I have so many blessings that I have Literally NOTHING to complain about. I am selfish though so I pick small things to complain about and have no reason to.
9. A child’s prayers are the sweetest most unaltered prayers
I knew this one from other families so mine didn’t exactly teach me this. However, our kids had not heard of Jesus until one year ago. Their default answer when I tell them that someone is sick is “mommy can we pray for them?” And they mean like right then. I got a text from Daniella’s teacher the other day telling me “whoever Lucas is she’s asked every kid in class to pray for him since he’s sick.” Yep that’s my Daniella, she can’t sit still, can’t write her name, and is super difficult to understand in speech, but you better bet she’s praying for you and God hears her!
10. That I could use another job just to feed them
They recently began to express that they were “full” at a meal. It took almost a year before we heard this for the first time. Brandon and Nick always eat the same size portion. Yes my 45lb son eats as much as my 30 year old husband. Me and both girls eat the same size portion, my girls are about 35lb each. Did I mention they usually have seconds? Seriously I need another job to feed them. Can you imagine when they are teenagers?
11. That my house will never be clean
We have dogs too, so I had sort of come to terms with this one before but it’s really true now. I’m lucky if I sweep once per week. The swiffer is somewhere packed away still. And that mop? What mop? Did that even make it through the move? Dog hair is a condiment at our house, if it’s not in your food, in your bed, or on the bottom of your socks, you’re not really a member of our family. Dusting is the most hilarious thing to me. Who has time to do that? I Love that our new house has Wood Base Boards! Who would have thought that they hide dust so well? Someone on my wavelength must have thought of those! Thank you genius person, and thank you previous homeowner for not painting them white.
12. The people that told me you can’t compare kids to dogs, are crazy, yes you can
This one just makes me laugh. We used to be in a Sunday School class when we first got married where we were one of the few couples without kids. We never
wanted to be left out of conversations so we would always chime into the kid conversations with “yea Maya, or sure Colt” those are our dogs. I say “sit” “stop” “come here” “down” “no” “eh” and “quit licking me” all to our kids and dogs daily. Yes I’m serious about that quit licking me one! We’re consistent with the dogs, they know what to expect from us. We’re consistent with the kids. If you want them to really do something you give them a treat. We just gave the kids french fries one at a time the other night each time they said their birthday or address and got it right. They all chase each other in the back yard and none of them clean up after themselves. Someone please tell me the difference, I’ll ignore you.
I know some of these are silly and some are serious. I feel we have to have a good mix of both as parents. I would go crazy each day if I didn’t just think of some things as humorous. My kids are blessings, and most days I see them as such. We have hard times, fun times, silly times, and crying times, but at the end of each day if I look back I guarantee they taught me something new.
What are some things your kids, adopted or not, have taught you? Have you ever made a list of them? I bet they’ve changed as time passes, I can’t wait to see what else ours teach us.