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Thursday, September 19, 2013

A Letter to Sammie

I'm not good at words of affirmation. I wonder if my friends realize this about me? I can encourage in short bursts. So, if we only chat on the phone every now and then or I only see you a few times a week, you may not know this. 

It's become abundantly clear to me as I parent: I see what needs to be fixed or improved and usually only comment about that. Regular, specific words of encouragement are REEEEEAALLLYYY hard for me.  (I'm sure that was apparent to Brian long before we had kids!)

Anyway, we've really struggled with Sammie the last few weeks. She's so kind and forgiving and sharing to everyone outside our home, but has little patience or respect for those inside our home.  She knows the way to behave, words to say or not say. I'm seeing more and more that what she truly thrives on, I'm quite horrible at giving. How can I fill in that gap? So, I've been praying about what to do. Since I'm much better and writing my thoughts than speaking them, I decided to write her a letter spelling out the qualities I love about her. 

Dear Sammie,                                                September 18, 2013
      I wanted to write in black and white, for you to keep forever, how much I love you.
      I know you feel like we only point out what’s wrong or what you need to work on. We’ve tried to explain until we’re tired of hearing ourselves talk that it’s part of our job. I believe that is true, but I know I can do much better at reminding you of all the things you do well and encouraging you in all of your gifts and talents – of which there are many! I really am working on saying more positive things than pointing out corrections. Please be patient with me as I try to consistently grow in this way.
      You really are such an amazing blessing to me and to our whole family. You have such a generous spirit; always wanting to make things or do things for your friends. When this quality spills into your brother and sister, it’s like a sweet perfume filling our home.
      I don’t know why I still shake my head in amazement at your creative ability in the kitchen! You’ve been this way since you were a little, little girl. Always wanting to stir, add something else, try some new combination of foods. That boldness in experimenting will serve you well in life. I expect to see you on the cover of a cookbook someday! Sammie’s Sumptuous Suppers!
      When you create a new lotion, face scrub or lip gloss, I wonder, “Will she grow up to make women all over the world feel beautiful?” What a precious, precious gift! When you build a doll bed out of duct tape and cereal boxes or form an entire miniature Italian meal out of modeling clay, I wonder, “Will Sammie grow up to bring joy to young girls and their love for dolls and all things small?” That too, would make me so proud.
      Many people say, and have said since you were tiny, “She looks just like you.” And I’ve noticed as you’ve grown into the sweet young lady that you are, that you are like me in many ways. (Good and bad – sorry about that.) You and I can bless our friends in big ways by doing small acts of kindness and in the very next moment, snap at those dearest to us because our selfishness rears its ugly head. I imagine we’ll both have to work on that the rest of our lives.
      When you were 5, you sang “The B-I-B-L-E” at three different services in our huge church. I knew then you were gifted musically. Then, about five years later, I remember the first time I heard you singing, when you didn’t know I was listening. You weren’t singing to impress anyone. Just singing a meaningful song, from your heart, the very best you could. I got teary-eyed at your pure tone and sweet voice. The ease with which you’ve picked up piano, coupled with your sense of timing and pitch, make me wonder what God will do with these precious gifts. Do you ever wonder?
      Your outer-beauty should probably go without mentioning, but I can’t help it. You’ve been given your father’s beautiful eyes and you look so much like my mother when I look at pictures from way back then. It’s truly uncanny. Your quirky fashion sense only serves to enhance what God gave you naturally.
      What a treasure you are!  I’ll never say it enough, I know. But I hope to remind you more and more, so you believe it from the inside out.
                                    I love you,

As I lay in bed last night, I thought of all the things I should've added. Like her graceful athleticism and sheer smarts at her age are impressive to me. I figured the world will boost her ego enough on those fronts, but also realized these messages could become a regular part of my encouragement to her.

I'll ask her in 20 years if it mattered to her.

Are there gaps in your parenting style that your kids really need to thrive? 


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