by Teresa Glenn
“Why do I have to go?”
“I won’t have anything to do…None of my friends will be there.”
“It’s so boring. Why are you making me go…I’m not gonna watch.”
“He doesn’t care if I’m there or not… He won’t even notice if I’m not there.”
These were our young children’s responses almost every time we communicated that we (all) were going to a sibling’s athletic, academic, or arts-related event. Their tone was generally some combination of whining, frustration, grumpiness, and resentment—and typically in the presence of the child who had the event.
I understood. The program or game didn’t interest them, and it was their sister or brother they’d be watching…why would they want to do that?! Sometimes they acted like I was torturing them with this requirement. Funny, I felt tortured when I couldn’t enjoy watching one child perform, since I spent half the time responding to the other two—“It will be over soon . . . not much longer . . . stop that . . . comeback over here…”
Some outings were fine. They’d make a friend or see one there and occasionally watch some of the event. My strategy was much prayer for the children and for me, positive strokes, and pointing out any other family doing the same thing to disprove, “No one else makes their kids do this, Momma.”
My answer to the innumerable times they asked, “Whyyyy??” was consistent. “We are going to support him, to encourage him. We are his home team. I know you don’t want to go, but it’s what we’re doing.” This was one of many seeds that I sowed by word, reinforcement, and buckets of prayer. There is a high value in family learning how to support each other.
At the same time, I didn’t want them to become adults who attend their siblings’ occasions because “they should”. I wanted them to grow to desire to go because they want to support their sibling. Over and over again, I led, explained, and prayed. “Lord, help her grasp the blessing that this is to her brother. Help him experience the blessing of knowing she’s here.” I depended on God to do the heart work in each child and to help me exercise His grace. We all had attitude struggles.
Early on, I was grateful if the children sitting with me simply behaved and didn’t complain. Then one day during the elementary years, as I dropped our son Terrell off early before his game, he looked at me and asked, “Are Ellison and Cecilia coming?” When I replied yes, he smiled. That moment made every trying moment worth it. Gradually, each child began to ask, “Who all’s coming?” Push back was subsiding. Each child began to enjoy being the recipient of the family audience. I didn’t see it happen, but God was growing the seeds’ roots, and now sprouts of growth were evident.
Eventually blossoms began to pop up. When Cecilia was in the 9th grade, I told her brothers (11th and 12th graders), “After your football practice, I want you to walk over to the gym for her volleyball match.” Knowing they would be exhausted and hungry, I expected push back. They both said, “Sure.” I was stunned—no excuses or complaints. “Thank you, boys. That means a lot to me and it will to Cecilia, too.” When I left the room, I thanked God and cried. Sibling trials are hard, but when beautiful breakthroughs happen—wow.
Cecilia’s junior year of high school, Terrell surprised her and drove 4 hours round trip to listen to her perform. Her senior year, Ellison called me from college and said, “Mom, I want to surprise Cecilia and come to her play-off game tonight, but I’ll have to drive back right after the match.” The next spring Terrell and Cecilia drove 6 hours round trip in one day to celebrate Ellison’s entry into an elite drill team at The Citadel. In each instance, I said, “You do not need to come”, and they responded, “I want to.”
I want to. God does this.
We sow, toil, and pray without ceasing. God gives the growth. He opens a child’s heart and stretches ours. He grows the seeds we sow, waters our effort with love and grace, produces fruit in our family, and wells awe in our soul.
“Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.” (Ephesians 3.20–21)
Teresa Glenn speaks and writes to encourage and mentor women about partnering with God through the everyday circumstances of life. She is the author of Becoming A Peaceful Mom: Through Every Season of Raising Your Child. She writes at celebratethefamily.org. For speaking requests contact Teresa at firstname.lastname@example.org or complete the form on her website. She and her husband Terrell live in Mt. Pleasant, SC.