I knew it was inevitable. I knew it would happen eventually. The older Brynna gets, the more sure I’ve been of it’s inescapable arrival. It’s been happening in little ways over time but never to the extent that it was so glaringly obvious. Now is different. Now we’ve reached the day (the first of many), the point (with more to come), the great divide when she had to pick a side. Do what Mom says? Or do what everyone else does?
We had lunch with friends at Chick-Fil-A today. When we arrived, I told Brynna that she was not allowed to go into the play area until our food arrived, and she was finished eating. I reminded her that regardless of what another is allowed to do, that was the expectation we’ve always set and we will uphold it whether alone or with others. Brynna went to find us a table, and I ordered at the counter. When her friend arrived, she called Brynna to come play with her. Brynna explained that she had to wait until she was done eating. The friend suggested that she could come back out when the food came but just to play for a minute. Brynna said again that she couldn’t. The friend asked if she was in trouble and that’s why she had to wait. Brynna said no. Then, the friend reasoned, that since I wasn’t there and she wasn’t in trouble, she should play just until I came to the table. **I pause in the telling of the story to point out: I know every word they spoke because we were IN CHICK-FIL-A. I didn’t leave the building. I was 12 feet away!** What I saw over the ketchup and napkins was maybe one of my proudest moments. It’s a picture I will hold in my heart forever. Brynna obeyed. Brynna chose to do as she’s been taught even though it’s not what she wanted. She chose to say no to her friend to say yes to her mom. She was forced to do so, and she picked a side. In that moment, the divide that’s been a little obvious for a few weeks became evident for all to see.
But here’s the thing: before Brynna could reach her day of great divide, I’ve had to face hundreds of them. Before she could choose to obey when it was hard, I had to. Before she said no when everyone else was doing something different, I had to. Before she could show me what it looks like to trust the one in charge, I had to show her how. I had to be the mom who doesn’t let her wear makeup when everyone else is allowed on special occasions. I had to be the mom who does her hair everyday even when she doesn’t want to sit still. I had to be the mom who enforced the punishment even when it was more work for me. I had to be the mom who got up and left when I said I would. I had to be the mom who took it away when I said I would. I had to be the mom who sat on the floor after each instance and explained not just what she did wrong but why she needs to do differently. I had to teach her that you obey not because of who’s around but who you are. And I had to do it over and over and over again.
Hear my heart. This is not a dissertation about my friend or her little girl. This is not a judgement about the choices of other moms (We put enough pressure on ourselves. We don’t need to add to one another’s burdens.) , nor is it a commentary about the misbehaviors of kids. They’re kids. That’s what they do. We’ve been that kid, too. And we will have opportunities to learn by being there again.
This is a declaration from a proud mama!
This is a statement of truth – they will do what you do.
This is encouragement to keep going; they will learn what you teach.
But, moms, we have to DO. We have to TEACH. Every. day. When we feel like it and when we don’t, when it’s convenient and when it’s not, when we’ve got the energy and when we feel like we don’t.
I have to show her that I am willing to be the different mom so she has the courage to be the different girl. I have to stand on one side of the great divide so when she gets there, she’s not alone.