Friday, January 31, 2014

Family : Circling the Wagons

I have four kids. That gives me a lot of free passes for stuff:
“You can’t make a cake for the PTA bake sale? Honey, totally don’t worry about it. I don’t know how you manage getting anything done with four kids…”

“You’re late? That’s alright. I’m sure just getting out the door with four kids is a feat in and of itself…”

“You’re going to go run some race half way across the country? I don’t blame you. Sometimes a mama just needs to get away from her four kids.”

So yeah, a lot of times the four kids thing works in my favor. 

But it also means, with six people living in my house – 3 girls, 3 boys – that statistically, somebody’s eventually gonna go crazy. Especially as my four kids are inching up on teenagerism.

The statistics were right: one of my middle school aged kids, done lost her mind this past November and December. It was pretty vicious – the choices she was making, the way she was thinking about herself & others – and I was left wondering how I didn’t see it coming. At all.

But let me make one thing clear: it is an absolutely brutal time to be a teenage girl in our society. 

Issues of health, self-esteem, beauty, attraction, belonging and self-worth have always plagued young girls. But now it plagues them with a running commentary from everyone they know (and some they don’t) when these girls put their feelings out into cyberspace for all to see. 

I’m not saying anything new here, that hasn’t been already been said much better by other people. And believe it or not, it’s not even my point.

My point is what happened after my daughter had the mind-losing experience.

This happened:

Okay not just that. 
When my parents found out about the struggles my daughter was going through, they dropped everything at their home in Georgia, and came and stayed with us for six-weeks.  
They didn’t come up here to tell my husband and I what we were doing wrong as parents (although I’m sure the list was long) or to be voices of criticism to our daughter.   
Instead, they came up and cooked meals and did chores so I could spend much needed one-on-one time with my daughter and not have to worry about what the rest of the family would eat or if the laundry would ever get done.  
They played games and watched movies with my other three kids so they wouldn’t feel left out, as mom and dad had to spend more time with their sibling. 
They went and ate lunch with my kids at their school sometimes 2-3 times a week. Bringing – much to the kids’ delight – fast food or sub sandwiches for them to eat, rather than the cafeteria food.  
They sat with my troubled daughter some evenings and told funny stories of the mischief my brother and I got into as kids.  And helped us pry my daughter’s smart phone out of her hands so she could learn to reset and live without it.
But most of all, they came in and spoke life and encouragement to me and my husband and our kids and our house. They hugged and prayed and smiled and loved. Day in and day out, over and over, for six weeks. 
My parents left today – having done, I think, what they set out to do: help me and my family get back on course. And I already see a positive change in my daughter that I want to continue to foster. 
Most importantly, my parents proved to my daughter, without ever having to say the words, that nothing was more important to them than her.  That when family needs your help, you stop what you’re doing and give the help that’s needed.  
Circling the wagons. To protect what’s precious within.


  1. What a wonderful, thoughtful thing for them to do! Hugs, Janie! So glad your daughter is doing better! :)