A reflection from Mack’s Mom on what it was like to mother a maverick, and eight lessons she learned from raising her “Sweet Pea.”
The following is a guest post from Mack’s Mom!
I thank God for motherhood and I thank God for allowing me to be the vessel to birth the wonderful woman whose blog I’m penning on now. She is my firstborn and I knew she was special and would do amazing things. I’m continually in awe of her poise, wisdom, confidence, compassion, giftedness, talent, beauty and grace. Yes, I’m biased; heck, I’m her mother, shouldn’t I be?! But out of all those great things that she is, she is my “Sweet Pea.”
I started calling her that when she was very young. I guess I said “Sweet Pea” so much, she thought that was her real name. Funny story…She and I were shopping one day and when I got to the checkout, the cashier spoke to Chaffron and asked her what her name was. Of course, you know what she said –“Sweet Pea!” I had to fix that right then. I let her and the cashier know her given name was Chaffron. I still laugh at that today. (Side note -That’s why I don’t really like nicknames because children grow up thinking their name is “Pooky, Man Man, Pumpkin, Sweet Pea or something!) Anyway, I digress.
Lessons from My Sweet Pea
Not to toot my own horn, but I’m often complemented or given kudos for raising such a wonderful young lady. And then I’m asked how I did it. I honestly can’t say it was any one thing, magic wand or special formula. I just know that I give all credit to God. And of course my husband, who is a great father. However, the question got me thinking about some lessons that I’ve learned parenting Chaffron. So as she and I talked and I reflected, this is what I learned from raising my Sweet Pea:
Sandwich every bit of criticism between two slices of praise. This is a bought lesson. By nature, I am a very direct person. I mean what I say and I say what I mean. So some things don’t come out nice and proper all the time. Chaffron actually told me that while she was growing up I was mean. Me, mean, can you believe that? Really though, she said that I was sometimes too critical about her hair or clothes or even what she ate. I didn’t realize that then, because my intentions were good. I only wanted her to be her best self. I say all this to say, moms, double up on the praise before you give the criticism. I’m thankful that I didn’t do too much damage. She’s forgiven me and all is well.
Watch what you say, what you look like and where you go. I always told Chaffron to fix up when you go outside because you never know who you’ll meet. Be presentable and act like a lady. Today I’m proud to say she is a very respectable woman and is a fashion and makeup diva! Now see, some of that constructive criticism I spoke of earlier, paid off. (Wink, wink!)
Expose them to new things, people, places, and opportunities. Because Chaffron is gifted, she has many interests and can do a lot of things well. I knew early on that exposing her to variety was key for tapping into her potential. She could read the newspaper at the age of 4, so we bought encyclopedias for her and she read them for fun, which is one of the reasons she has such a rich vocabulary. She’s always been creative, so her grandmother taught her to sew at age 10 and she got so good that she designed her own prom dress. She played the piano and the violin. She even played basketball for a little while. (hey, she is her father’s child). But her most special gift is her singing voice that was discovered around age 4 or 5. And she’s been singing ever since. Make sure you give your child every opportunity to succeed by presenting them with many options because you don’t know which option will be the one that propels them to greatness.
Encourage them to take risks and try those new things. Don’t be afraid of them failing because they will. Give your children room to make mistakes – that’s how they learn and grow. I knew Chaffron would make mistakes in life, but I prayed that they would not be life-altering. God has kept her and is still keeping her to this day.
Teach and model the behavior you want them to have. Lead by example because they are watching you. Funny story: I remember we had this little porcelain figurine that looked like a miniature toilet (I don’t know where we got that thing from), and one day I caught Chaffron, who was about 2 years old then, trying to sit on the toilet and use the bathroom. She was just struggling to try to wriggle her little body on that itty bitty toilet. I knew then it was time to potty train! She’d been in the bathroom with me many times and she was imitating me. So yes, they’re watching all the time, even when we think they’re not.
Pray hard, and often. Pray without ceasing. Your prayers will see them through. Pray for what you know and what you don’t know. You’ll feel the need even before your child says a word. Chaffron said something powerful to me one day after one of our long discussions and prayer sessions. She said, “I know you hurt when I hurt, Mommy, because I’m your heart beating outside of your body.” That sums it up perfectly.
Engage, listen and communicate. Be interested in who they are, what they do and what they want. Develop a relationship with them so open dialogue can occur. Just have small talk sometimes. Tell funny jokes, laugh and hang out together. Spend as much time as possible with them because they grow up so fast. If you engage with them early you can be friends later. Chaffron and I talk, laugh, cry and pray about almost everything. I can truly say she is my best friend.
Adjust your reign and role as they grow older. This is where I am now and it is challenging for me and Chaffron. As I said, we talk about most everything, but as she has matured and experienced life, her journey has become her own. It’s especially true now since she’s in a serious relationship with a wonderful man. There are some things we don’t discuss unless she brings them up first. Now if you know me, that’s hard for me because I’m a need to know kind of person. So I’m learning to switch gears and be respectful of the fact that she’s still my child, just not A child.
Lastly, moms, you will miss some things, mess up and step in it sometimes, but that’s ok. They will live and not die. I promise you that.
“Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.” Proverbs 22:6
So there you have it. Lessons from my Sweet Pea. I thank her for making me a better mother.
Chaffron, I love you with all my heart.
Cassandra McCarty lives in Pleasant Grove, AL with her husband of 33 years, Constine. Together they have three children and two grandchildren. She works from home as an independent contractor. Cassandra is a self-proclaimed “information junkie” and in her spare time, she likes to surf the internet, read, shop and of course write. Her greatest desire is to pass along what she’s learned along the way.