Saturday, January 9, 2010

Sibling Rivalry (A BIG lesson learned by ME.)

As many of you know, I have a sister. A spunky, free spirit, adorable woman named Amber. We have a great relationship. In fact I count her among my best of friends. We are as close as sisters can You see, once upon a time our relationship was nothing but turbulent at best. Oh, don't get me wrong, I loved her, I just couldn't stand her very much at times.

She has spent her whole life wanting to be my age, until now. Amber is 6 and a half years younger than me. So what that means, is I was always in another stage of life than her. She was born when I was in elementary school, When I was in junior high, she finally started school, and by the time I hit college she made it to junior high. Get the picture? In other words, after the cute baby stage, she became a "brat" in my existence. Always wanting and fussing to do what I was doing, or go where I was going. She always thought I was the "favorite" because I could always do more. I always thought she was the favorite because she could always do more earlier. Of course now she is having the last laugh, because I would love to be almost seven years younger...

Anyway, my post is really not about my sister. We get along great, love spending time together and can't imagine life without the other in it, even in blog land. Love ya, Amb! This post isn't about my wonderful parents, who, bless their hearts did the best they could with us, which since we both turned out alright, I say they managed OK at the parenting thing. Love you Jim-Dad and Mommy! No, this post is about my own children and the lessons God teaches me everyday through them...

My kids are exactly two years apart, both were born in the month of October. There wasn't over six years spreading them apart. Which I don't think is a bad thing, it just comes with a whole new set of problems that I never had modeled for me as a child. My mom always had an excuse for my sister as to why she couldn't do what I was doing or why she treated me differently...her age. I don't have the same luxury. There might be a few issues that would work with, but for the most part, they are right there together. Age can't be a factor for them. Sometimes I can use the gender reason, but even in today's world with girls wanting to prove how tough they are and boys are being allowed to enjoy a few more activities outside of the sports arena, even that because a tough reason to use.

So, my problem comes mainly on a day to day basis. When my son looks at me and says; "Mom, you like Kayla better than me." Or Kayla exclaims; "Jordan gets away with everything!" Sound familiar? Then there are the knock down, drag out fights (luckily they are few and far between, but when they do happen, someone always gets hurt!), in which Kayla can still take down her brother, but just barely... Then there is the constant "Jordan stop!" and "Kayla, you are so mean!" Does anyone else out there have to suffer though this "noise" over and over again. And we wonder why us moms go and have our hair colored every few months...

I realized how much they are watching what we do, the other day. They are at constant rivalry for our praise and affection. What an incredible burden for us parents, to make each child feel like he or she is the favorite. Sometimes I do the other day. My last post was about my daughter the artist. As I have said before, she loves to draw. I asked her if I could scan her pictures and show my bloggy friends her work. (If you want to see her art, you can go back one post. I'm pretty proud.) What I didn't realize is that my son was watching and listening. You see, he loves to draw too and by me making a big deal about her work, he felt left out. He came to me later and asked if I thought he was a good artist too.

Humbling for a mom for sure. I do think he is a good artist. He loves to draw animals and has even won some art contests at his school. There is a bench at his school now, in their learning garden, that he painted. I'm pretty proud of him. But he didn't read what I wrote in my post, or why I chose Kayla's was all about passion and God's masterpieces. He loves to draw, but not like his sister. But then, it really wasn't about the drawings, in his eyes, it was about being showered with affirming words of love. It was never my intent to leave him out or make him feel unworthy of my praise.

Since then I have been thinking a lot about this parenting stuff and juggling the whole parenting act. I love and adore my children, both of them. However, they both have two very different personalities. I talk to them differently, I discipline them differently, I enjoy different things with both of them. Yet, I love them equally. I really do not have a favorite. I know it may seem to my son that I enjoy being with my daughter more, but that is natural because we share a love for all the "girl stuff." Yet, I couldn't imagine my life without my cuddly, little bear.

As I was thinking and praying for my children, I realized on such a grander scale how AWESOME the Heavenly Father really is. I mean, He loves each one of us. There are no favorites. Yet, like all siblings, we tend to look over at our brothers and sisters and cry "No fair!" How come you are blessing him that way, and why are you disciplining her like that, Lord. Why does it seem that when my friend prays, you ALWAYS listen. How come I have moments when I can't even feel you there. Sometimes, like children, we wish we were treated all the very same way...yet, do we really want that? As I said before, we are all created different, we all serve a different purpose in this world, we all are beautiful masterpieces with the signature of the Lord Almighty stamped in the corner of our hearts.

A great chapter to read is 1 Corinthians 12:12-31. Great verses. My favorite out of this chapter is found in verse 22; "...some of the parts that seem the weakest and least important are really the most necessary..." and verse 27; " Now all of you together are Christ's body and each one of you is a separate and necessary part of it."

In other words WE ARE ALL JUST PLUM SPECIAL AND NEEDED IN THIS WORLD!!! How is that for building one's self esteem?! So, as I look over at my brother and sister, in Christ, I need to take the "rose colored glasses" off and look at them for who they are. Creations of the Lord God, struggling to "find themselves" and live for Christ in this cruel and sinful world. What I might handle with ease, someone else may struggle with and so on... It is easy to compare and complain, when we can't see behind all the closed doors of everyone's heart. But Praise the Lord, He can. He doesn't have favorites, He just has extreme love. Enough love, that He died for each one of us. Doesn't get any better than that, my friends.

So, as I'm looking at my children, each one beautiful in their own way, I realize the task before me: to be an example of the greatest parent of them all, making each of them feel beautiful and special in their own way. And when the squabbling occurs, I need to have the patience of the Lord, as hard as that can be, and realize they are just trying to find their own way in this great big world, craving a little love and attention.

To end this post, I would like to say "thanks" for going on this journey with me. Everyday, the Lord teaches me something new about myself. And as I struggle to make it real in my own life, I pray I can encourage someone else along the way. This blog has become my diary of sorts, and there is freedom in writing down the thoughts and feelings of my heart, when sometimes words can not be spoken aloud.

To close this post today, I would like to add a few more drawings. I know you might be a little tired of the artwork bragging, but you see, I have a little boy, who needs to know that is Mommy is very proud of him too. He is so very special to my heart and I am so thankful for him. So here are a few of his favorites...and mine.

Have a great weekend!


Tiffany said...

Oh, this was the sweetest, most thoughtful post! Brought tears to my eyes!

Andrea said...

This post reminds me of my own childhood. My boys were very close, but when I remarried and thereby gained 2 daughters life forever changed. Oddly, they are NOT jealous of the boys. They are jealous of each other and they are jealous of me (step mom). I think it is more of a girl thing. Our girls are grown now and the younger one gets it more than the older one. The younger one has realized the unhealthiness in this attitude. Unfortunately, we are all still praying for my/our oldest daughter who is 26 yrs old and still acting like she is a little kid. So, if you have any extra prayer time...U can pray for my oldest step daughter, Robin.

You have quite the artist. WOW..his pictures are awesome!

Blessings and hugs, andrea

Kristin said...

Wow! Your son is very talented too!

I know those days are coming too, as my girls get older and realize they have different talents. I love them each equally too, as they are each so unique. I never thought about it in terms of God loving us. I really needed to hear this post today and it has encouraged me, so Thank YOu!

I have been down lately, feeling like I wished I had learned all of this stuff about the Lord 15 years ago, instead of just now. I feel like I'm behind on HIs purpose for me, but after reading your post, I am sure this must have been all part of His plan. This post brought tears to my eyes too, as I think about how God loves me just as much as someone who has always put HIm first, even though I'm just now getting it.

I hope you have a wonderful weekend!

Anonymous said...

What a neat analogy and what a great mom you are to be sensitive to what your kids need from you.

You have a family full of artistic ability!

Amber said...

Love you, too, big sissy. And, me? A free-spirit? Really? Huh.

Love those kids of yours. More than crazy.


elaine @ peace for the journey said...

Oh parenting perfectly...

Wish I could help you. Most days, I get it very wrong. I recently had someone ask me if I would like to lead a "parenting class" at our church. I suppose having 4 kids (2 in college, 2 still at home) qualifies me for such a task.



I just laughed and said, "I'm not your gal."

Thank you for giving your all to your mothering. You are doing a good job by parenting your kids differently, yet from the same level of love. I think, perhaps, this is some of the best parenting advice I'd give to anyone (and really, I stay away from that most days).

Indeed, our Father loves us specifically, and while it sometimes seems that others get more of him than we do, it's not true and unfair for us to label God as selective. With him, we get it all! Each one of us. Everyday.

Oh Father, keep us faithful in our remembrance therein.

Keep to it, Mich. You are a blessing to me as well.


Mich said...

Compared to me, sister dear...yes, you are the free spirit of the family. A part of you I admire a lot. :)

Jim said...

How well I remember the days when your little sister was a "pain" for you, and how really delighted I am that both of you are so close now. I hope that we did what we could to provide a meansure of personal space to both of you, treat you equally, and make a difference today in how you relate to one another. I know it sure blesses my heart to see how you both have turned out and know that maybe we did something right.

And your analogy truly speaks of our Heavenly Father's care and guidance in the midst of life's myriad of different persons loved and treated as He alone knows how to do perfectly.

You both honor me much by your insight and love.


He & Me + 3 said...

Well, you have two artists in the family. That is awesome. I hear you. with three...they are always comparing and it is so hard to keep that balance. Great post.

Christi said...

I think that as parents, we all find ourselves trying to measure out the praise so that everyone feels sufficiently appreciated! I am always thankful to have my side bar on my blog, because I frequently check it to see if I'm posting too many things about one child, while leaving another out! It helps me make a point to record memorable/special things about all of them!

Both of your kids are very talented! :)

mimi said...

It's so true....God loves us equally. All the same. Just like we love our children. I don't know why, but I never thought of it like that. Very cool Mich!

Becca~TimeWellSpent said...

I remember fighting with my sister growing up and new she's my best friend! I know the days of parenting are going to get harder on some level. Your illustration of how God shows no favorites was great.
Tell your son he's a wonderful artist!!

sanjeet said...

I really needed to hear this post today and it has encouraged me, so Thank YOu!

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