What am I trying to prove?

I took a little break from the 12 extra large loads of laundry I have been working my way through to do something fun today … I laid out the pattern and cut the fabric for phase one of my daughter’s wedding dress.
When my eldest decided to get married last fall, she said she wanted a homemade wedding dress. I thought she was out of her mind, and quickly said there was NO WAY I was making a wedding dress! I haven’t really sewn clothing for years, and all I could imagine was satin and sequins and way, way, WAY more stress than I wanted to deal with!  And so the shopping and dreaming began…
And nothing was quite right. We looked and sent pictures and emails back and forth, and talked for probably hours about what this dress should be. She started out long and strapless, and moved to short and sleeved. She wanted champagne, which turned into ivory. And still we looked. And then, I began to wonder…
I started looking at patterns and fabrics and pondered. Could I do this? Did I want to do this? Who would help me if I ran into a problem? And finally, the big question loomed… why did I want to do this, after I had already told her no?
You know, it’s hard to prove you love an adopted kid. They can be very cynical about love, and about the love of a parent for a child especially. And the normal loving acts of a parent? They are sometimes seen as manipulative or selfish by that child, and suspicion is often the response…

Why are you doing this?
What do you want from me?
What am I going to have to do in return?

It’s really tough to prove you love a child who has been hurt repeatedly, who has been disappointed, who has been forgotten so many times… and yet, that’s what adoptive parents often try to do- we try to prove love.
But we can’t, not really. We can’t prove we love anyone, all we can do is love them! Love when they push you away. Love when they attach themselves to another caring adult, chosing to confide in them instead of you.  Love when they tell you that you are the meanest mom ever!  Love when they hit, or pinch, or kick you. Love them when they accuse you of not even caring about them.  Love when they don’t call, or email, or visit for weeks, maybe even months…

No one can prove love. It is, or it isn’t. And so, when my daughter marries the man she loves in September, she be wearing a dress that I made for her. Not to prove that I love her, but just because I do. And hopefully she has learned something from me. That proving love? Nonsense. But loving? Best thing ever…

Still pondering,

Jennifer

My superman shirt rip…

Our family is pretty big NFL fans.  We love the Colts due to 18 years of living in Indiana.  Have you seen the gesture  athletes sometimes do after they make a touchdown or big tackle?  They pretend to pull their shirt open as if to display their superman suit beneath their uniform.

Sometimes I act like I don’t need a team.  Why do I do it?  I guess I get in a hurry and want it done right away.  I get excited.  I get inspired. I figuratively rip open my shirt and act like I am the only member on my team.

I try to fool myself.  I say that I can figure it out on my own.  I say I can be more flexible and responsive on my own. I can work some extra hours after the kids are in bed or put in more focused effort. I say if I don’t do it no one will.  I say others are too busy.  When I put that together with my self imposed sense of urgency I have the perfect plan for failure or mediocrity.

When I fail to utilize the team I neglect to build interest and enthusiasm. I fail to draw upon the talents and gifts of my team members.  I fail to be patient and give those around me time to join me in my vision. I miss out on a better vision or plan because I lack the input of others.

In order to utilize my team I must share ideas and plans and ask others what they think.  I have to respect the views of others enough to hear their concerns, reservations and affirmation.

But…. I don’t have time!

Another reason I failed to build and rely on a team is because I didn’t take the time.  In the back of my mind maybe I didn’t think people would agree with me. It takes time to build a team and I didn’t want to wait.  I egotistically thought I knew what was best no matter what others thought.  I failed to have a humble heart and ask for help.

That humble thing… it is way different than the superman shirt rip and … not nearly as much fun!  People might not like my ideas… and they might be right in not liking them!  What if I can’t convince them?  I will have to change my plans.  That isn’t always fun for me.

I can’t tell you I’ve overcome this tendency to be a team of one, but I hope I am getting better.  I must:

  • listen better
  • have more patience
  • hold my agenda or vision more loosely
  • hear the perspective of others
  • ask people to join me
  • communicate my ideas clearly
  • respect and deal with the problems, fears and concerns of the team
  • let others help me

When I do these things I am a better person and leader.  I also have a stronger team when I use and value the gifts, wisdom and insight of my team!


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