This happened in the order I would have preferred; love then marriage then baby carriage, only it happened sooner than I had imagined. I wouldn’t change any of it though, so I am not complaining. Just explaining.
I was parent of two by the time I was 22 years old. And mom to four at 27. Really, I flew by the seat of my pants, using the old theory: “Act as if, and it will become."
One of the parenting concepts that I had wrong, (one of the many concepts I had wrong) was the tendency to say “no” to the requests of my children. I don’t know why I thought that anything a child would want was likely not good for them. Maybe I knew myself too well, and projected my own misguided desires onto my littles. It wasn’t until my kids were well into their school years that a dear friend, Sally Jo Winebrenner, gave me a book by Jaroldeen Edwards. The book is called Things I Wish I’d Known Sooner; Personal Reflections of a Mother of Twelve. The author was a good friend of Sally Jo's, and was a gifted writer as well as a gifted parent. It was from this book I first discovered the concept of instinctively responding with “yes” rather than “no” when my kids asked for something. Isn’t it sad that I had never really considered this before?
Lucky for my kids, I adopted this before I ruined them! Not that I never again said “no”. In fact, they might tell you that I had not learned this concept at all. But it is something I would like to remember, and to have my children remember as they parent, grandparent, teach and interact with other humans. Just writing this is a good reminder for me. If my first reaction to a request is yes, and by this I mean a silent yes…while I consider the alternatives and repercussions, then it will take a little convincing to make me change my answer to “no.” Just looking at life from the perspective of “yes” changes things. (note #1: saying yes to everything a kid asks is a cop out, and makes for spoiled rotten humans. Spoiled rotten humans are not pleasant under any circumstance, so use your brains, people!) We have the right, as parents, to spend a little time considering consequences before we give our children answers to requests. "You go take the garbage out and I'll think about it" is not a bad response. (note #2: If the child is screaming, the answer, let it be known, is automatically "no"!)
Today is a red letter day in our family. Our daughter Kate, who moved home to Utah eighteen months ago after 6 years on Houston, TX, received some good news. She had gone to Texas on assignment with Teach for America, and ended up staying. Last summer Kate decided to apply for doctoral programs in cognitive psychology. Of course we supported her. We trust her, and we believe in her, and we believe God believes in her and her good heart. But honestly, the odds of her being accepted into any doctoral Psychology programs were so slim it put us in a delicate position as parents. Between 2% and 7% of applicants are accepted. She received interviews with three of the schools, which was amazing. But with a letter of rejection last month she decided to start looking at other options, so she began applying for jobs, and thinking about teaching in China, among other things. I was proud of her to thinking broadly. But truth be known, I was praying in my proverbial closet that, if was possible and would not interfere with her eternal destiny, Kate would be allowed to pursue her goals in the doctoral program in New York, at the State University of New York at Binghamton. That particular program, and the doctor with whom she would be working, felt most fitting for Kate, had the greatest evidence of down-to-earth-ness, was fully funded with a stipend, and was super interesting. She would be researching, among other things, how children learn to read. Kate taught reading to underprivileged students all the while she was in Texas.
So today Kate received a letter from Dr. L. at Binghamton that said THIS:
Hello Kate!I'm writing to let you know that the Cognitive Psychology group has finally met and decided to offer you admission to our PhD program for Fall 2016. I'm very sorry that this took so long... we had a lot of students to see so the admissions process took forever. I'm really enthusiastic about the idea of you joining the lab! ….
WooHoo! YES, Kate!!!
First thing I did when Kate called to tell me was stop what I was doing and bow my head. I was sitting at a sewing machine in sewing class. First words I said, in my purposeful silence, were Thank You. Because I’m a believer, this is what one would expect. Because I felt like this opportunity was in the power of God to grant, I had been bold enough to ask. God has instructed us to ask, with specifics. So I asked for this... for Kate...with regularity.
Since He is the ultimate parent, I really feel like Heavenly Father’s instinctive response to our requests is “yes". If there's not something else He needs to have happen, then His answer to our pleas is generally "yes". He only changes His responses to “no” or “not now” if it is not in our best interest to say yes. Only He knows the end from the beginning. The vanishing points on His perspective are beyond our vision. One day we will look back on disappointing moments in our lives and draw a breath of surprised awe, letting out a sigh of understanding, followed by, perhaps, a head slap and an exclamation: “So THAT’S what that was all about!” Of course I am projecting my humanness onto God, which is not intended to be blasphemous. I just feel like that’s how He works. And because that’s how He works, it should be how I work as well, even with my limited perspective.
So thanks be to God for checking her destiny, and allowing this amazing opportunity to come to our girl, who is also His girl! Kate… our PhD. candidate.
Kate won’t know, till her feet are wet, if this is the river she wants to walk through for the next 7 or 8 years. But she has been invited to enter the waters, and we are so thrilled!
My HOPE, for all of us, is to consider responding YES to sincere requests, before we instinctively say NO. It may end up that NO is the best response in the end. But YES should be our first instinct. It’s how love works.
Footnote, as of 6:20 pm tonight:
When my nephew Nate and his stellar wife, Lyndie asked if there was a chance that their fourth baby could maybe, possibly, perchance be a boy (after three girls), their answer was... finally... YES! Welcome to our family, Zachary Nathan Hansen! (Talk about a lucky little boy!) Yup, it's a red letter day!