Our newest addition to our family, Daughter of Purpose, is named such because she seems to be the most content in life when she is doing something that has purpose–something that contributes to our family. Typically, her jobs (or chores) each day are to make sure the shoe basket by the front door is tidy and to take out the recycling. I’ve noticed that she’s ready for something more, but just hadn’t gotten to thinking through what she could do. I guess she got tired of waiting for me because recently, all on her own initiative, it seems she found her new purpose in life is to feed the cats.
Did I say she really likes to feed the cats? I mean really, really likes to feed the cats. She’s a little obsessive about feeding the cats actually. About once per hour she goes outside and feeds the cats. She gives them food and makes sure to give them water. Every time she does this, however, she fills up the current bowls and then comes inside and gets another food and water bowl and fills those up too. It’s quite a sight–bowl after bowl of food and water lined up for the cats.
What I found interesting about all of this as I observed this sight one day while I was outside was that while Daughter of Purpose was taking care of the cats food and water, one of the cats itself was there and ignoring the bowls. It was rubbing up against her constantly and practically tripping her while she did her work, begging to be petted. Yet, she did not waiver in taking care of the physical needs of the cats.
It hit me as I watched that this is so like as us moms. Isn’t it like us to be continually focused on the task of meeting the physical needs of our children–doing laundry, making meals, helping with homework–yet their emotional needs go unnoticed? Sometimes our children are so obviously needing us to throw the physical needs out the window and just focus on their little face yet we can’t see it because we’re so focused on the job at hand. Just like Daughter of Purpose was oblivious to the fact that the cat could care less about the food and water.
Sometimes only the outsider will notice the most obvious things. Maybe it wouldn’t hurt for us to take a step back from our lives every once in a while and see if we can catch a glimpse of what is really going on in our home. Maybe you can do this on your own, but for true growth as a Mommy, don’t be afraid to ask a friend if you have any blind spots that you are missing. It may not be easy to hear what your friend is seeing, but I believe a true friend would tell you the truth even if it hurts. Don’t be offended. Take it in stride and learn something from it.
As I made this observation about the cats, I tried to show Daughter of Purpose and show her what I saw. The problem is that she didn’t see it. Just like the cat has more needs than just food and water, so do your children. Don’t worry–I’m learning it too.
As Daughter of Purpose has recently joined our family, it has hit me straight on that I was doing the same thing to her. I was giving her a family, making sure there would always be food provided, showing her that there are plenty of clothes to wear, providing a warm bed to sleep in and even throwing in a hug here and there. But what I realized was that those things were nice, but they weren’t what she really needed. What she really needed was beyond a care taker. She needed a mom. On a daily basis, she needs me to engage with her emotionally, physically and to get to know her. It’s strange to be raising a child that I did not birth. Someone that I missed 4 years of her life. At times I feel overwhelmed with how much I know her, but yet how much she is still a stranger to me.
At this point, I think she knows her physical needs will be met. Now it’s time for me to engage in being her mommy–the one who knows her best and loves her just as she is. As I begin to uncover the treasure God has given me, I encourage you to do the same. It doesn’t matter whether you’ve known them since birth or not there’s always a nugget in each day of discovery with our children. It’s just a matter of where our focus will lie. Will we be bogged down by the tasks of the adventure or in the delight in the discovery of true treasure?