If you didn’t grow up in the church, the statement, Upside Down Kingdom may not make sense. Sounds more like a fairy-tale – a story about a fairy whose brilliant mind and flare for the dramatic and self-confidence to beat the band, finds herself thrown out of fairyland because no one likes a know-it-all. She found her way to an lonely, hurt elf’s home and together they form a magical bond and feed off each other’s sorrow to the point of becoming even more miserable and angry. This friendship forged of hate and anger bring them to a bayou that houses an old witch. By paying with their very souls, they find a magic that they apply to their fairy and elf kingdoms that turn them, literally, upside down. Many fairies and elves died as they fell to the earth.
BUT – that is not what it means to someone who has been in the church or has read the Bible. It simply means, ‘what you thought was important, really is not.’ In other words, the first shall be last, the last shall be first. The poor will be the rich and the rich will be poor. And it goes on in that fashion. If you want to chat more about this crazy concept, let me know!
However, what I want to chat about is the Upside Down-ness of the whole parent/child thing-a-ma-bob. We start out as young parents – no matter what age you were when you had your first child, you were younger than you are now! We start out not really knowing what we are doing. Then we progress into ‘I kinda get it.’ And then that baby starts crawling and walking and we go back to, ‘what the heck do we do with this?’ And then slowly we progress into, ‘I kinda get it.’ But then they start talking and soon they hit that three-year-old mark and we really don’t know what we are doing.
So, we ebb and flow our way through our child’s growing years. We do our best. We try and teach and encourage and, as I said in a previous blog, throw out nuggets of amazing information and guidelines and hope they fetch them, eat them and absorb them (I am still babysitting a pug, so the animal analogy is quite powerful).
As they hit their teens we find ourselves in the middle of many break-downs, break-ups, break-outs and just general breaking. We, once again, try to remember what it was like to be that age and how we felt. We try and share those feelings and what our hindsight has taught us – the same way our parents tried to do with us. We try and fix the break-downs, cry about the break-ups, buy every soap known to man to prevent the break-outs and we just try to stay clear of broken glass, broken doors, bust-up walls and banged up cars.
So as our children age and head into teen-hood and border on adulthood, we are in a constant role of teaching, guiding, helping, showing, hopefully demonstrating things that will help form them into intelligent, mature, kind, loving, gracious, forgiving and huggable young people. There are nights we fall into bed exhausted after an hour long talk with one of our daughters as she questions her beauty and intelligence and talent. There are days where we drag ourselves home after work to deal with our son’s poor marks and broken heart. We try to lift where they fall and try to fall to give them a soft place to land.
Sometimes we just need to apologize for raised and frustrated voices, words that should stay fettered in our mouths and for all those things that happen before we take time to think.
This is what the ‘normal’ kingdom looks like. Adults guiding their children to the very best of their ability.
So, what happens when the Kingdom flips?
It has happened many times over the past number of years to me. And it just happened again this past week. I had a bad day. A depressing day. Several things occurred that made me question my talents, my abilities, my very worth. If I could have beat myself up, I would have needed stitches, a nose put back together and eyes that needed many, many cucumbers to help heal up. I was not in good shape.
My daughter came for a visit and it took very little time for her to notice my puffy and red eyes. She hauled me up and pulled me into my room.
Here is where things turned upside down.
She sat me down on my bed and shared ‘all her years’ of wisdom with me. She helped me try and fix my break-down. She empathized with my break-ups. She brought every piece of her wisdom out and helped me with my personal b(f)reak-out. She didn’t stay clear of the broken glass and the doors and the walls. She walked right through them and attacked the inner voices I was listening to. And in her voice and in her posture and in her words, I saw and heard bits of myself.
At one point I looked at her with tears coming down my cheeks and said, “This is backwards, I should be helping you.” And she said, “Not this time, mom. This time you need to listen to me.”
It’s these amazing moments where; all the sleepless nights, all the hard moments, all the broken hearts, all the tears that I have cried for my kids became flashes of beauty. Everyone of my kids has at some time or another, in their adult years, pulled me aside, sat me down and basically said, “Not this time, mom. This time you need to listen to me.” At times it hurts, and it feels like I am not a strong mom or a good mom because my kids must care and nurture me.
Then, once that hurt passes, it’s like a warm compress, envelopes my heart and mind and I recognize that, perhaps - just maybe, it’s because I did do my best as a mom. When the kingdom was recognizable and right-side-up, some of the words that left my lips were exactly what my kids needed (even if they huffed and rolled their eyes).
I love that God has shown me that the kingdom our family lives in is built on a swivel. Sometimes it is up and sometimes it is down. I am grateful that my kids can sit me down and give me sound advice. And I am glad that I can still pass on some wisdom once in awhile. “It’s like I always say…”
Thank you, God, for guiding my kids and helping them find ways to lift their baskets off themselves and let their little (or big) lights shine.
Parents – trust in what you do. It may be exhausting, and you may not feel that the words you say penetrate those cellphone, headphone, toque wearing heads. But they do. Stick with it. Hang in there. Wait for things to flip upside down or inside out. It will send your mind for a spin, make you a little queezy, have you reaching for the Gravol© - but once the dizziness wears off, you will hug your kids and thank them. It’s coming – some later than others, but just you wait – it will be worth it!!