We're frantically getting ready to join our youth group for a week of raft camp. So naturally, my time this week has been spent wrestling with piles and loads and bins of clothing. For some strange reason I also felt that it would be a good time to completely purge the kids' clothing supply. The living room was heaped with garments for two days. On Wednesday I drove until I found an ARC bin and triumphantly dumped in my three bags full.
In my frugality, I also determined that it would be most cost effective to make a nightgown for Little Miss Avery Kate before the trip. Frugal? Yes. A good use of time? Not so much. I'm an attack seamstress; It's not a hobby I love, it's an impulse I suddenly get. I'm great at cutting out the fabric, and I'm thrilled when I piece the front and back together. Then I'm ready to be done. But having a blue-eyed baby skip up and say, "Is my nightgown ready yet?" has a way of keeping me on track. So each night when the little heads had hit their pillows, I sewed.
Last night I knew I had to finish. I groaned, then thought of the bright blue eyes and forced myself to work. Pretty soon, Aidan was at my side. He is intrigued by the way things work, so I let him watch for a bit. I had to replenish the bobbin, and he was mesmerized. Then he brought up the question I knew was coming. "Mom, can I try?" I really wanted to just finish and be done with it. He should have been sound asleep. But something prompted me to say, "Sure, honey," instead. His face glowed when I told him he could push the pedal.
So side by side we worked on the seam. He pushed the pedal and got to experience the power of running a machine, while I guided the fabric so that the seam stayed fairly straight. As he pushed and I guided, I thought of the analogy playing out before my eyes. We parents have a serious job. Before us is the opportunity of guiding a child. We have the pattern laid out and the instructions are clear. We have an idea of how we want the finished garment to look, but we can't complete it on our own. A wise parent refers often to the Instructions.
A wise parent also knows how much guidance is needed. It's a delicate balance, this guiding business. If we take over -- pattern, fabric, pedal and all -- the product just might turn out alright. The seams will be neat and tidy and on-lookers will surely applaud. But such a crisp, exact garment won't display our child's charming originality and unique spirit. On the other hand, if we give our child the materials and machine without any guidance, there is little chance that the garment will stay in tact. He may have fun for a while, and he'll definitely love the idea of experimenting, but in the end he won't have anything useful to show for it, and he'll be completely exposed to the frightening realities of this world.
After Aidan finally drifted off to sleep, I finished the nightgown. I tiptoed into the girls' room and found a hanger. Like my own mama used to do, I displayed the finished garment near my sleeping beauty so that upon waking she'd see the love. Because that's what this is all about -- the sewing and guidance and growing -- it's about love. When we love, we guide.
This morning Little Miss Avery Kate hollered down the stairs, "Mommy, can I take my new nightgown to camp?" I gave the affirmative and she squealed, "Yippee!" So this afternoon we'll cram that nightgown into her bag. With it comes a mama's love and a mama's prayer -- A prayer that this mama will always strive to guide her little ones in wisdom and in grace.