Time With Each Child
Years ago I read a biography on Susannah Wesley. I was raised Methodist, so I was familiar with the legacy of her sons, Charles and John. I knew they had been reared in a large family. In desperation as to how their mother did it, I read about Susannah, hoping to glean some parenting wisdom.
Susannah is a great example of mothering through adversity. She birthed 19 children losing many in infancy. She had a "failed marriage" by today's standards. In fact, her husband left her for a period of time and she was a single mom. I found her most profound insights on parenting was learned during this time - she regularly dedicated a portion of time to interact with each child individually.
To her absent husband, Susannah Wesley wrote:
I am a woman, but I am also the mistress of a large family. And though the superior charge of the souls contained in it lies upon you, yet in your long absence I cannot but look upon every soul you leave under my charge as a talent committed to me under a trust. I am not a man nor a minister, yet as a mother and a mistress I felt I ought to do more than I had yet done. I resolved to begin with my own children; in which I observe the following method: I take such a proportion of time as I can spare every night to discourse with each child apart. On Monday I talk with Molly, on Tuesday with Hetty, Wednesday with Nancy, Thursday with Jacky, Friday with Patty, Saturday with Charles. (Wikipedia - Susannah Wesley)
It was an example I followed when my house was full of little ones. Though my husband was not gone for a year, he was gone most of our children's waking hours. I resolved that my greatest mission field were the souls in my own home. And that they each needed a portion of me all to themselves on a regular basis. I purposefully structured our days and week so that there was a way to devote one-on-one time with each child.
I realized this morning that I'm still doing this.
I've set up our weekly schedule this summer so that I can have some private moments with each child. It's taken some creativity, especially to still provide for Grandpa's needs, and found me out of my comfort zone. But I've really enjoyed getting to know each of my children afresh as a result.
I accompanied our youngest on his Jr. High Youth Mission Trip to inner city St. Louis. I'm not used to chaperoning girls, but loved it! Loved seeing our son learn to be the hands and feet of Jesus Christ to a hurting and broken portion of our city. Love that we have this mutual experience to come back to as he grows in his faith.
Leaving the youngest with the team, I took a few days to be with my daughter in her home out of state. We did some crafts, tried some new recipes, and laughed at movies released the year I graduated from high school. I was blessed to visit the non-profit she is working for and see how God is using her skills and talents to reach a broken world.
Lastly, I spent a long Monday with our guy that is college bound in the fall. We were on the road before dawn to attend his orientation and get him registered for fall semester classes. It was exciting to see him interact with the other freshman, walk through his dorm, and feel the transition emotions again. Sending a child off into the world is not new for us and it always brings contrasting emotions. It's sad that he's leaving home, it's just as exciting to see his joy and passion for a new phase of life.
Thankful for the days I've had to focus on each child individually. Strongly encourage all moms to do whatever needed to make those moments happen. It will bless both you and your child!