Tuesday, 5 April 2011

Lonely at playtime

Lord, listen.


My little girl Elizabeth has had a bad day, I think. 


Tonight at bedtime she was tired and upset and things were weighing heavily on her little heart I think and so we talked for a while and I tried to make her see how special she is and it doesn't mean that there's something wrong with her if one little boy has decided that he no longer wants to be her friend, and how proud we are that she got her 50m badge at swimming at the weekend even though another child got their 75m; no, it doesn't mean that she's hopeless at swimming.  I'm sure that someone will play with her at playtime tomorrow; they do like her, why would they not?  

It nearly broke my heart. I know she's tired and tearful and I know that I do the same; late at night when I'm tired and overwrought things look worse than they do in the sunshine.  I've just been in to see her and she looks so small and so heartbreakingly beautiful with her little pigtails, her arms wrapped round her cuddly pig.  Katy is asleep with Barney on her face, the lump on her neck sticking out at the side, and Elizabeth is snuggled up with Pig, her lonely and anxious tears dried on her cheeks. 

Lord what a responsibility it is to bring up children.  


I know I can't do it without you; even with your help I feel as if I'm not really holding my end up.  Please show me how to help my little girls to grow in confidence.  Not arrogance, not self-satisfaction, but self esteem.  Show me how to nurture in them a knowledge of how special they are; how unique and gifted. I don't want them to compare themselves with other children any more than is necessary and I don't want them to feel they have to win, to be the best, to get it right every time to be a success.  

And help me not to overreact.  It's parents' evening on Thursday and I don't want to be the Mum who is always fussing. I want my beautiful, vivacious, imaginative, energetic, fun-loving Elizabeth to be equipped to fight her own battles - as far as any five year old might be - and not have her Mummy anxiously consulting the teacher every time something might be amiss.  

I get it so wrong sometimes. I cut one of them off as they try to tell me something when they're eating their dinner and then I realise how important it was to them. Tonight I declared it was a race to see who could get upstairs to bathtime first and Katy stood at the foot of the stairs and howled as she will never in a million years win a race against Lizzie.  She sobbed to me that she was tired of always being last.  


'When I'm five, (sniff) Lizzie will be (sniff) six, won't she?  And when I'm (sniff) seven, she'll (sniff) be eight. I'm always behind.  I'm never fast enough.  I can't ever win anything.'  


When will I learn?  I cuddle her and tell her that it's not always about being fastest or first and so on and so on.  How hard it is being a little sister.  How hard it is being a big sister.  


How hard it is being a Mum. 

Lord Jesus, you were human; you came here and lived as we did.  Did you ever feel inadequate?  I can't imagine it; you are God, after all.  Did you ever feel lonely?  We know that you did.  You were rejected in such devastating terms that I can't compare our small and superficial hurt feelings to your experiences in any way; that line of thought isn't really helping me.

You know my Lizzie.  You know how wonderful she is. You've made her bright with all the gifts that she has; please, Lord Jesus Christ, help her to shine. Help her to understand the wonder of herself so that she isn't cut so deeply by another child's careless rejection, that she has the confidence to walk away if someone is being unkind to her, that she might approach a new friend with her self esteem intact and not worry that she might not be good enough.  


Father, hold my little girl close and assure her of her worth, her loveability.  Am I not doing it well enough? 

I get so cross with her sometimes.  I am not good in the mornings and she is bouncy, excitable, silly.  I would say that more often than not we are cross with each other at breakfast time. I'm irritable.  I'm always snapping at her; clean teeth, brush hair, get dressed, eat breakfast, get books, stop messing about, find shoes, put on coat, why so late to mention that she needs something, don't be silly, walk faster, settle down, quick, quick... 


I leave her at school and then walk home with the same regret and guilt that I feel last thing at night when I go in and see them angelic in sleep - how come I could have been so cross with you such a short time ago?  I am impatient and critical.  Maybe her diffidence and low self esteem is my fault.  Can I have done such damage?  

Lord heal my girls. Heal them of any damage that I have done unwittingly in my heavy handed, clumsy, galumphing parenting. I love them so, so much that I write this with tears in my eyes at the idea that I have sown seeds that might grow into attitudes that might dog them into adulthood.  


You know that I, of all people, find it horrific that I might do that to them. I'm working through some of these things myself at 40 and I am terrified that I see it all in Lizzie aged five. I've wasted years that I don't want her to waste. 

I want her to be comfortable being Lizzie. To be proud of it, not apologetic.  To know that when she's done her best, she's done well, whether she's top of the class or bottom (not that in this day and age they let the children know their rankings in the class).  I want her to be kind, gentle, lighthearted and open minded in her choice of friends and her treatment of them.  I want her to be resilient and secure, not devastated when things go wrong. 

Maybe she's just tired tonight and focusing on the negatives. Maybe I am tired tonight and focusing on the negatives.  

Let my girls sleep in your arms tonight, Father God.  Keep them safe from anything that might harm them physically, emotionally, spiritually, intellectually, or any other way. Heal them of anything that threatens to take root and hurt them, please.  Wash away the wounds and pains of being little and unsure and worried.  Assure them of your love in a way that they can understand, please.  And of mine too. 

Help me to be a better mother to my children. I need more patience, loads loads loads more patience.  I need a stronger grip on what I say and how I say things.  I need to stop and look more and hurry and chivvy less.  I need to let them be little more and stop expecting them to grow up.  One day they will have grown up and then what?

I'm going to go to sleep now and I hope that tomorrow we can all start afresh. Make it alright, Lord. I feel so unequal to the task of being a Mummy right now. Will you do it, please?  Show me really clearly what to do, what to say. Tomorrow, help me put you right in control. Give Lizzie a great day at school and Katy a great day at nursery. 


Build them up and show me how to do it. 


Make them smile. Please. 

Take the tears that have been cried in this house today and turn them into something special. 

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