Saturday, January 26, 2013

Celebrating Accomplishments

A few years ago my mom gave me a wonderful gift though she didn't know it at that time.  She gave me a gift of connection to my past.  In her efforts to get rid of excess in her house she brought me several boxes of miscellaneous nick-knacks, pictures and cards/letters.  Among notes I had passed in 5th grade (I kid you not!) and high school award plaques I found the connection. Letters, cards and notes from my mom. Memories that had faded came rushing back. Congratulations for doing well in a try-out. Encouragement to keep trying my best.  "Way-to-go" for a first chair seat or solo.  At the time I first received the cards I am not sure I understood just how much they meant. Through my adult & mother eyes, they looked completely different.

The cards and notes my mom gave me were an avenue of connection.  A way that she showed me she loved me, cared for me and saw me.  Nothing I did, nothing I was becoming went unnoticed.  She celebrated my accomplishments and my victories. Beyond that though, she celebrated the young woman I was becoming, the woman God was shaping and molding me to be.  Even as I write this I am overcome with gratitude for her love, support and inspiration.  The legacy she placed in me and continues to pass on is a legacy of connection, of pursuit. I deeply desire that for my children as well.

Being a mom of young children often makes me laugh and shake my head at the same time.  Lessons taught over and over again.  Books, activities and games played countless times.  I regularly have to remind myself that right now I am laying the foundation for the future and it's going to be awhile before I see all the benefits and rewards of that labor.  However much or little I am seeing right now does not excuse me from doing the work of staying connected, of staying present in their lives.  That's why I am writing about connection, to remind myself that the effort, time and sacrifice are worth it.  Connection is not automatic but it is necessary.  I want to continue to pursue my kids and God's best for them.

Practically speaking, I learned from those letters and cards the importance of celebrating accomplishments. The old school "this paper deserves to be placed on the refrigerator" approach works for our family.  When the kids come home with a great paper they have written, a high grade on a test or a cool art project we celebrate that.  I encourage them to keep at it and allow them to explain how it feels when they do good work.  We don't encourage flattery and don't want to over praise our kids.  We expect they will do work hard and do their best. At the same time we will not hesitate to tell them we are proud and celebrate their accomplishments. 

Celebrating accomplishment, no matter how big or small, is something that keeps us connected as a family.  We don't do it simply because it builds self-esteem and makes them feel good, though it does.  We celebrate because we worship and serve a God who encourages celebration.  Throughout the Bible there are numerous accounts where God's people are reminded to celebrate, to enjoy one another. They celebrate as a reminder of what God has done and who He is. They celebrate as a way to draw closer to one another and to God. In our family, we want celebration to do much the same, draw us closer to each other and to God.  Celebration as connection works for us.  Blessings!

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