If I want to stay engaged with my children, I must work at it as with any other relationship I’m entrusted with.
The Muffins with Moms event at Audrey’s school had her and I pulling out of the driveway forty-five minutes earlier than usual. Mark stayed home so the littlest two Dykemas could keep snoozing.
As Audrey and I drove to school, the dark of morning still enclosing us and a steady rain making it difficult to hear her little voice in the back of the van, she told me that Muffins with Moms is making her wish come true.
“Wish?” I asked.
“Yeah, remember at school we wrote on a rainbow five things we’d wish for if we found a pot of gold? I wished for more time with you.”
At school, we found a place at one of the many cafeteria tables near one of her friends. The friend’s mom was engaged in conversation with the mom across from her, but I made a mental note to catch her eye and introduce myself (since we are new to the school this year) when a chance arose.
With our muffins & apple juice in front of us, I turned towards Audrey and made conversation. Catch that? I made conversation. Audrey is an easy person to get along with and talk to, but she is seven, and engaging with her takes intention & thought. Over Audrey’s shoulder was the mom of her friend still talking with the other mom. After 10 minutes of Audrey and I talking, I could not help but notice the two moms were still only talking to each other, and hadn’t said a word to the kiddos that came with them.
I continued chatting with Audrey, asking her things like, if you could only have one kind of muffin everyday for the rest of your life, what would it be? All the while, I burned inside with judgement and indignation–how could those moms so easily ignore their precious ones and this little pocket of time?
And then, a mom I know from church and her daughter sat down across from Audrey and I. And, we easily found ourselves in a conversation about our girls, about school, teachers, all the things moms discuss. And though the conversation was only minutes, and we paused to address the girls, I realized how easy it would be for me to do the very same thing for which I was judging other moms. Humbly, my heart recognized that it is easier to cultivate relationships with people who are similar to me (like moms).
From indignant muffin chewing to humble apple juice sipping, the Lord showed me some important tidbits from this time in a school cafeteria.
1) Splinters & Planks: Many of us are familiar with the scripture that reminds us not to be so quick to point out where someone else is falling short, before being keenly aware of how we are falling short ourselves. (Matthew 7:3). When I see a mom falling short (in my opinion) of how she should be behaving with her kids, I will thank God that He covers all my shortcomings with my own kids.
2) Do the Work: Engaging with our children will naturally be more work & require more intention on our parts than connecting with moms who are like us–share interests, struggles, & the same need for coffee. But, it is vital that I do the work of engaging with my little people and fostering our relationship because my relationship with them is part of what opens their hearts to a full & intimate relationship with their Heavenly parent, God. (Read more on that here, “Our People Need Our Attention More Than Our Service“)