I was thinking that I (Jennie) would like to start a new series on Tending Our Gardens, with an occasional post. Over the years, there is so much that I have learned, from others, through the guidance of the Holy Spirit and from watching my girls raise their children. I occasionally wish I would have known these things as a young wife and mother, and that I could go back and do things differently. Well, we all know that isn't what God has intended for us, so instead I thought I would write a few of these things down and from time to time add a post in a series of 'Things I wish I would have known...'. Maybe God will use these ideas and lessons learned to spur on others in their lives, and they will know much earlier than I did.
The first thing God brought to my mind that I wish I would have known is that working children are better than playing children. In the culture that I grew up in, which was the 1950's and 60's urban life, kids had a few chores that they did for allowances, but mainly they spent their time playing. Before they started school, then after school, on week-ends and all summer. My Mom sent me to my room to play, down the basement to play, or outside to play etc. It was fun and good, but my friends and I got into a lot of trouble along the way, and I grew up thinking that was what kids did with their time. I didn't bother my mother, but I also didn't help her with anything and did not learn much, either in the way of housework or gardening or yard work. I thought that playing was a child's right, not a privilege.
After getting married, and having three daughters of my own, I just repeated these same ideas. The little ones played all day, made messes around the house which I picked up, and generally spent their time playing together and leaving me to my 'work' alone. Oh, how I wish I could go back to those days, and change that. Having a little one with Mommy, doing what Mommy does, working alongside her and learning from her is the best, the very best mentorship possible. That time is precious, so precious. Keeping small ones and big ones busy, working at projects, or learning lessons is so very much more profitable than playing with endless toys. When children are small, it's hard to visualize the adults they will become. But the only way they will become adults who are equipped to face the world with the skills and knowledge they will need, is to teach them each day, every day and spend the time with them, supervising them. I have come to see that children sent off on their own will usually come to mischief and laziness, and children sent off to others to oversee will never develop the same relationships with the parents or the skills the parents want to instill. Very small children do need some toys of course, but not anywhere near as many as I thought they did when my children were little.
Is this way harder? Yes, yes and yes. Will it last forever? No! The time goes by way faster than anyone can ever dream. Are the results worth the effort? Oh yes. What better thing could any woman ever pour her time into, than the growth and education of her children? Can small children really work? I wish you could see my grandchildren. They know how to clean harder than mama and grammie. They know how to cook so well, that they can make a breakfast of eggs benedict, fruit salad, toast and tea all by themselves. The boys can landscape the yard (see photos), build a fence all around the vegetable garden, and take care of their younger siblings including a baby sister. They have taught me just how much children can learn and are capable of. I have seen how much happier they are when guided and working on a project alongside mom or dad.
These ideas you will not find in our general culture today. I'm sure I don't need to tell you what you will find in our culture. But I think fighting our culture in every aspect is worth the work, effort and intention. I'm so glad that God has brought my daughters further along that I was at their age. I'm so glad that I have daughters willing to be different than what they saw from me, and what they see around them. It's called GRACE.