My four-year old wants to move out

When I was little, my mom gave me and my brothers the Flintstone vitamins every morning. Remember those? And boy, did we love them. It was like the one precious, allowed piece of candy we could have in the morning. We would even pop several when she wasn’t looking.

I not only want to pass on this tradition to my own children, but I also want to pump them so full of vitamins that sickness never occurs in our house. (Hey, one can try). So I bought some and put one by her bowl of cereal the next morning.

She hated it. Of course. She choked and gagged it down, and continued talking about how gross it was.

Oh seriously! The drama!

Remembering she had taken some different types of vitamins that she loved at a friend’s house, I purchased new ones and again, put one by her cereal bowl in the morning.

Same thing. She hated it. She choked and gagged it down, cried, carried on, and so on and so forth. Because you know, of course I would have that kid.

I finally decided it would probably be a battle every morning, so I accepted this and prepared myself each day for the same question:  “Mommy, do I have to take my vitamins today?” accompanied with, “UGH!!!” and “BUT MOM!!” and “SIGH!!” (She’s very good at playing the part of a disgruntled teenager…too bad she wants to be Elsa for Halloween instead).

I tried to calmly explain that she will take her vitamins forever. I showed her that even I, a grownup, take vitamins, and that mine aren’t nearly as fun as hers. I showed her the massive pill I had to swallow. So please…for the love of bologna sandwiches, STOP asking me if you have to take your vitamins because YES YOU DO FOREVER AND EVER AMEN!

Then this conversation happened.

She looked at me.  “Mommy, when I’m 30 or 60, will I be a grownup then?”

“Actually, you’ll kind of be a grownup when you’re about 18.” (Note: I know what you’re thinking, but I did say KIND OF).

park pic
Can’t you just SEE these cuties at 18? Hope they’re still buddies then.

“18????  Will I still live with you?”

“Well, when you’re 18, you’ll probably move out to your own place and go to college.”

“Move out?” She stopped, her eyes wide. “So I won’t live with you guys?”

“Nope!” I answered as I did dishes, thinking she would love the idea.

Instead, I turned to find huge tears rolling down her cheeks.  Her eyes were red-rimmed and her face was etched in complete heartbrokenness.

“So…” she started, her voice wavering significantly… “will I live by myself? And I won’t…” *sniff* “I won’t live with you anymore.” And she began crying. Honest to goodness, crying from the sheer sadness and fear of it.

I realized I had wandered into territory this girl was not prepared for. She had not even  considered the possibility we wouldn’t be together forever, and her little heart could not bare the thought. (Time, please stop! This innocence kills me).

I backpedaled. I went to put my arm around her and explain to her how fun it would be. She could live with her girlfriends, and mommy would come visit her, just like my mommy still visits me. (My mom is actually five minutes down the road so I lean on her maybe more than an adult woman should, haha). But her tears kept coming, and I could just see the confusion in her eyes.  It was heartbreaking, and tears began to line my own eyes.

I couldn’t convince her she’d be ready when the time came. She just continued to be appalled at the idea. So I did my best to encourage her not to even think about it.

How is that like us? We take on the worries and cares and ‘what if’s’ of tomorrow, all the while God is telling us we’re not ready for tomorrow and whatever it may bring. We are ready and given grace for today…for now…for this moment.

I’ll be honest…this is really difficult for me .I’ve struggled with anxiety my whole life (and have only just recently begun to identify it as such). Not only do I worry about the inevitable (when we will most likely get sick, when we will most likely make mistakes, when things will most likely go wrong at some point, when we will most likely hurt each other) but about the things I don’t even know will happen…what if something happens to me and Heidi grows up without a mom? What if one of my kids gets a rare disease or disorder? What if cancer or what if pain or what if sadness and loss and fear? What if I CAN’T HANDLE WHAT IS COMING?!?!

I think anxiety is my crisis of faith. And as I watched Heidi sit at the table this morning, face filled with worry and sadness, I realized that’s what I do. I sit in my NOW and I take on what I’m not ready for, and I let it make me sad and fearful. I anticipate not having what I need to face the future.

Heidi and our neighbor’s three-legged cat, Skittles. These two adore each other. So she’ll probably have lots of cats.

I took her onto my lap, hugged her close, and did the only thing I could do. I told her that it would be a LONG time before she moved out of mommy and daddy’s house, and that she didn’t have to think about it right now. I told her to enjoy being four years old, for one day she will miss it greatly. I promised her she would be ready when the time came. I reassured her I would always be with her.

Just like God does with us, if we let Him.

She calmed down. Finally, she looked up at me, having perked up a bit.

“So…I can live with my friends?” she said with a smile. I laughed and said yes.

“And we can have puppies and cats??”

Sure can, little love.

Now all she talks about is how she’s going to move out with her friends and have lots of pets. Ha. Whatever keeps her happy. Shed the fear and questions of the ‘what-ifs’ and look forward to the good things, always. That’s a good start.

30-33 “If God gives such attention to the appearance of wildflowers—most of which are never even seen—don’t you think he’ll attend to you, take pride in you, do his best for you? What I’m trying to do here is to get you to relax, to not be so preoccupied with getting, so you can respond to God’s giving. People who don’t know God and the way he works fuss over these things, but you know both God and how he works. Steep your life in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. Don’t worry about missing out. You’ll find all your everyday human concerns will be met.

34 “Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes.” ~Matthew 6

16-19 Who stood up for me against the wicked?
    Who took my side against evil workers?
If God hadn’t been there for me,
    I never would have made it.
The minute I said, “I’m slipping, I’m falling,”
    your love, God, took hold and held me fast.
When I was upset and beside myself,
    you calmed me down and cheered me up.  ~Psalm 94

She would probably have a pony too, if she moved out. I mean...I would have if I moved out at four years old.
She would probably have a pony too, if she moved out. I mean…I would have if I moved out at four years old.

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