Thursday, June 14, 2012

Just a Picture

When the picture came across my news feed on facebook, I must have audibly gasped because my daughter stuck her head into the dining room.  "What, Mom?"

And for a minute, I just had no words.

Have you seen this?

Unfortunately, because it was facebook,  I do not have the proper attribution.  I don't know who took this photo, where it was taken, etc.

All I know is that the message of this picture feels like my heart for parenting in photo-form.  Something I constantly struggle to put into words.  It encapsulates all that I believe parenting can and should be.

While we're over here tossing kids into mini vans and driving all over the place to give them the best experiences possible in a madcap race against time, somewhere across an ocean a Mama and her child are slowly walking home.  She knows that all her child really wants is to learn how to be real: a real grown up person.  And she knows that including her child in real life speaks to the dignity, the personhood of this little girl.  As she trots alongside, the little one feels pride and accomplishment.  She can hold her head up because she feels trusted and strong, helping her Mama with important work.

Mama knows that childhood is not about pacifying or entertaining a little one.  It is about encouraging her to grow, gently, with love and nurturing back up with the willingness to let her try and maybe even fail.  She's not saying "I could do this so much quicker without you!," she's saying "Could you help Mama?  I really need you to carry this for me."  In doing so, she watches her daughter rise to the occasion and the confidence within her building.  By gently raising the bar of expectation, even for one so young, she is inspiring her little one to grow.

This type of parenting is counter-cultural here in the US, where prolonged adolescence is the norm.  But in my heart of hearts, I know it is the right way for us.  I hope that I can mother my little ones with the grace, faith, strength and trust that this Mama exhibits in her photograph.  By giving my children responsibilities, believing on them and encouraging them if and when they fail, I hope to raise up a crop of responsible, confident individuals.

Yes, I got all that from just a picture.

Dinah comes up beside me, wraps her arm around my waist and looks at the picture.

"She looks like a good mom."

I give her a tight squeeze.

"She does, doesn't she?


  1. It left me speechless, wow... a tiny one being just like mommy. What a tremendous responsibility and also honor. It is powerful.

  2. I needed to read this today! :)

  3. I have seen it, it is a lovely picture and your thoughts about it are perfect!

    1. Thank you, Kim! It really nailed me right in the heart. I felt like I had the wind knocked out of me, it is just so precious.

  4. I felt the same way when it was in my FB feed yesterday. And I must say, it really pays off when the kids aren't toddlers anymore and already used to contributing to the household.

    1. Yes! I baby my babies, but goodness everyone has to grow up sometime!

  5. I had a recent discussion with some online friends about what I expect from my kids. I expect them to help out around the house, but I still want them to be kids. The friends couldn't understand how that works. For me, I model behaviors I want them to do, I ask for their help and they do most of it. But I don't reward them for being part of the family. They think I should, but I don't think they need an allowance for just being a good member of the family. I am more strict than my friends in this way, yet my kids can just run and play on our property and I don't stand over them at all times.
    I don't give my kids everything they want or think they need. That doesn't teach them anything.
    And this photo really encompasses the way I feel.

    1. I feel the same. We have some "pay jobs" that our kids can accomplish, but only on top of their normal helping and doing around the house. We all help in this family, and we all work. That's just how it is. Also it is important for me to teach my kids about storing up treasures in Heaven and not always looking for what they "get" out of helping. Service for service sake is very important to me.

  6. Amazing, Lydia! What a mentor you are. You speak to my heart and remind me what I want for my children! Thank You so much!!


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