My daughter went to Teen Summer Camp for five days. The outing was through the church. She worked to pay for this trip by participating in car wash fundraisers, selling original artwork, getting donations from friends and family, and by helping babysit. It was a life lesson rewarded when she got the call from the church office the night before the trip to let her know that her balance was paid off. She was so proud and happy.
“Remember this,” I said. “You can have anything you want. You just have to work for it. Nothing will ever be too expensive because you know how to get the money for it.” I was really talking to myself. She just gained a huge lesson on work ethic and independence that I didn’t have when I was her age. I was trying to sound wise, but it was more masked admiration.
She’s been to other camps and youth conferences before. This time, we had an especially tense time the night before she left. I discovered things in her room that weren’t right and I was angry and yelling. I’m Filipina, so the yelling was really loud!
The morning after that incident, things were calming down but the peace of the home was already broken. It’s not something I’m proud of. I noticed that these bouts of frustration also seem to happen right before she’s about to leave for an event. It really gets in the way of a good farewell. We had to recognize that it was a spiritual attack. We were both hurt and thankfully, we were still able to pray together before we drove to the church.
Being surrounded by her friends and the bustle of boarding the bus got our minds off the incident. But the Holy Spirit was clear that we needed to face some things when she got back.
I usually do nothing exciting when she’s away. I stick to my work routine and probably watch more tv than is good for me. God worked on me while she was gone. He showed me the following:
- Apologize to her for every wrong and hurtful thing I’ve ever done or said. Ask her how she feels I can be a better parent. Get her opinion and show her that it matters.
- I need to commit to an end time to work and fully focus on her when she’s here. Working from home cuts into her time with me. All she really wants is my time. I am under so much pressure to work and provide for this household as a single parent, that the workaholism drives the detachment. The vicious cycle of productivity only becomes an illusion. In the meantime, my daughter is in the next room, missing me. Time to change that.
- I can never tell her “I love you” too much. She will always want to hear it, even if she doesn’t answer me back.
- Do homework with her when school starts.Change my work hours and start earlier, if I have to.
- Keep hugging her often. Then hug her more.
I was excited for her to come home. I got to the church campus 15 minutes early so I can be there right when the buses pull into the parking lot. She scrambled off the bus and we raced to each other through the scattered luggage and wandering teenagers. She gave me big sweaty hug in the 107-degree Valley heat. “I love you, Mom!” and a warm kiss on my cheek.
She took me to IHOP for waffles with the leftover money she had from camp. *sniffle* The money that she worked for. Isn’t that sweet?
She told me stories about the mud run, the camp songs, the other little kids, the weird behaviors of campers, the words that stood out to her from the preaching. She told me about one of the three decisions she made for the Lord. She told me about a friend of hers who got saved, another young girl that we had been praying for.
She was losing her voice so it was a long meal with short, raspy phrases. Then she unpacked at home, and plopped herself on my bed. As I type, she is sprawled DIAGONALLY on the queen-sized space. She woke up, startled briefly out of sleep and mumbled, “I’m sorry, Mom. I just really have to be by you.” Then, she went back to sleep.
Who is it in your life that needs your full attention? What can you do this week to spend time with them, eye-to-eye and uninterrupted? I’ll pray that this post encourages you to reach out to someone for you to let them know they’re important and loved.