July 29, 2013

Meeting Them Where They Are

Mothering is a vocation filled with constant learning, one of which I have been blessed to belong to for over sixteen years. I am by no means an expert, nor do I claim to be, but through the years I have learned something very important about the balance between consistency and individuality.

It first occurred to me one day when I saw that once again my sweet Peyton had straightened the entire downstairs. Peyton is my little nanny/personal assistant/ housekeeper. She folds laundry, sets the table, takes care of Flynn, and helps with the overall running of the house. I immediately began to think that Madison never does these things without being asked. Again and again. And again. Then I had a moment of clarity. A honest to goodness light bulb moment.

As much as it is important to be fair and consistent in regards to chores and responsibilities, it is also equally important to recognize each child's individuality and interests. Children are indeed individuals. Each child has his or her own interests and strengths and passions. It is hard to remember that sometimes, and children often get grouped together and expected to respond and behave in the same way.

As I looked around that morning and saw the work Peyton had done, I realized that Peyton enjoyed straightening and baking and pushing Flynn on the swing for hours on end. Rather than become irritated that Madison rarely seemed to help with these things, I thought about all the things she DOES do. Madison loves to help me with my hair and makeup. She always makes sure I look my best when I have a special place to go. Madison paints my nails and Flynn's too. Madison is also a very social person. She spends a lot of time visiting with my mother and helping her around her house. She plans and hosts parties at the senior center too. These are wonderful things and I realized they are equally important as the household chores Peyton does for me.

Rhett also does his share, and while it isn't exactly the same as the girls, it is part of who he is and what he enjoys. Rhett is very close with my father, and spends a great deal of time talking to him on the phone about movies and baseball and soccer. He is extremely loving and patient when my sweet father repeats the same question or gets slightly confused. Rhett also makes sure that my refrigerator is well stocked with my favorite drink of choice...Cherry Coke.

Flynn, as young as she is, shows tendencies toward organizing and home keeping. She loves to help with the laundry and is a pro at making my coffee. Oh, and did I mention she loves to Swiffer the kitchen floor?

This does not mean that my children always love what they do. Of course, Madison still has certain responsibilities like unloading the dishwasher or vacuuming that she is less than excited about. Rhett still needs to be reminded to replace the garbage bag several times. And Peyton still needs to be prodded to call her grandma on the phone, because that is just not her thing. It means that I have realized how important it is to meet my children where they are, and to celebrate their gifts and strengths and interests. It also means that I have found that my children seem to do a job better and with less grief when it is something they enjoy. ; )

Motherhood is indeed a blessing...a vocation...and a chance to learn as well as teach. And I thank God everyday for allowing me to do just that.


  1. This is so sweet. What a nice tribute to them listing all of their gifts. After a weekend of only seeing the negatives in my kids, this will help me take a step back and look closer to the "good".

  2. You have such wonderful kids, and we all know those apples didn't fall far from your tree!

  3. Oh my goodness I so needed to read this right now. It's so true! I also have a really hard time treating my kids differently (especially my the 3yo who I constantly treat the same as the 4yo, forgetting he is a whole year younger).

    Thank you so much for sharing your wisdom. I think I need to bookmark this post for safekeeping!!! You may not think you're an "expert" but it's awesome that I can benefit from your light bulb moment NOW instead of many years of frustration down the road.

    Much love to you all and those special, unique kids :)

  4. Oh I love this! Lucia is definitely my helper and is good at patience, but Joseph always remembers to hug and kiss his younger siblings and is always the first to give me a hug out of the kids.

    Those girls have some beautiful hair. I especially love Flynn's wavy curls!

  5. I loved reading about each of your sweet kids. It is so interesting so each one is so different. I also find that they way I need to respond to each one is different as well.

    I could not believe when I read that your favorite drink is Cherry Coke....that is the only soda I drink!! How did I not know that was you favorite drink?

  6. Oh, I loved this post. It's such a great reminder Billie Jo. I find that sometimes I'm comparing and wishing that one daughter had a bit more of another's qualities. But then I think the same as you. They each have their own. It's a good reminder. I might just have to come back and reread this post once in a while!

  7. This is a really beautiful post, Billie Jo. I get stuck sometimes in thinking that all four of my kids need to have the same experiences and responsibilities and that they should all turn out relatively similarly. Isn't that crazy? They were all completely different babies who have grown into completely different teenagers, and I am grateful for all of those differences. Thanks for reminding us that they each have their own little handful of talents and strengths. When I focus on the way that they're unique, it definitely helps me appreciate them more. <3

    1. I agree :) And I also need to remind myself of this (almost) daily :)

  8. Great insight. You are training your kids right. Thanks for sharing.

  9. Oh, what a sweet post. I love the differences each child brings to our family. It's something so special about having lots of kids, all the personalities and strengths they bring to complete our family!

    Great post Billie Jo!

  10. Love this! It is something I really need to keep in mind as my little ones grow. They are still really little, but I can already tell the differences in their personalities, skills, and interests! Thanks again, Billie Jo!


Thanks so much for saying hello!

Billie Jo