Be what your kids need - JJ Landis
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Be what your kids need

JJ Esther Rita's (2)

Sitting here on my loveseat wrapped in an old blanket looking at my 13-year-old daughter, who is snuggled asleep on the couch under a faded, pink Hello Kitty comforter she’s had since she was two.


She went to work at the library with me this evening to help with a kids’ program. On the drive there, we figured out that consuming hot pizza while driving is more dangerous than texting. She kept yelling at me to stop eating.


We discussed music. Listened to NoNoNo’s song Pumpin Blood (the whistling song) and analyzed it. Tried to understand the words and wondered how it can possibly be that whistling is trendy.


To prepare for the library event, she eagerly sharpened pencils, made a sign, and helped move heavy furniture. I was proud of her as she worked just as hard (harder) as I did.


Afterwards, we came home and found the rest of the family had already scattered off to their bedrooms for the night, so we hunkered down for some TV.


During the show, we texted each other because sometimes you can say more without speaking. Then we chatted about the fashion choices of the characters on A.N.T. Farm.


A rule in the house is everyone must take a few minutes each day to read the Bible or journal or pray. She paused the show to write in her journal because she was afraid she’d fall asleep while watching. She did. I’m going to let her stay on the couch.


She’s been taller than me for a while now. She is a child, yet almost an adult. Adolescence is having shoes on the wrong feet or water in your ear. You’re okay, yet you’re not. Dull, nagging discomfort chips away at your peace. As a 40-something year old momma, even I am scared to face an unknown future. What’s it like in the head of a 13-year-old? They know so much, yet they are unaware that so much remains to be learned.


My daughter is more than her responsible behavior, her beauty, her humor, her intelligence. She’s more than her quirks, goofiness, and occasional snotty attitude. She’s a one-of-a-kind daughter of God with intricacies of her heart that only she and God will ever know about. She is a person so completely unlike me, it’s hard to believe I raised her. I can’t get enough of her – she’s amazing. Every day I wonder why God chose me to be her mom.


It’s painful the love, pride, fear that brews when we think of our kids.


I know all you seasoned moms are smirking. You know something I don’t. You know that 7th graders grow up. You know that she’ll not always want to watch dumb sitcoms with me, go to work with me, sleep near me, exchange texts with me, share her life with me.


I can’t stop time. I can only embrace this moment. WHO KNOWS IF I AM DOING ANY OF THIS RIGHT? With parenting, there isn’t a model, a formula. So all I know is I have to be present and be what my children need.


We send each other silly pictures and like each other’s Instagram posts. We split avocados because we’re the only two who like guacamole. I let her wear what she wants as long as it is modest. She recently wore a sleeveless prom-ish dress to church with a t-shirt over it. She looked like a perfect her. We discuss her friendships and teachers and music. I helped her design a shirt (it’s rather hideous) for a friend’s birthday because that’s what she wanted to give.


The tiny efforts add up. When she is in the mood to talk, I make myself be in the mood to listen. I think if I listen now, she’ll trust me later. With the heavy and the light.


Sometimes she’d rather be at her friend’s house down the street. I could get my feelings hurt that she doesn’t want to be with us always, but then I realize how remarkable it is that she seamlessly fits in and finds belonging in another loving family.


Time is something we can’t earn more of or save up for later. That is why it is precious and priceless. This concept was lost on me when my children were younger. I wished away the time, hoping the next stage would come quickly. The past couple of years, I have tried to be more aware that my children are future adults with eternal souls, not just annoying (sometimes), needy (always) young people.


Be what your kids need now. You know what that is. If you don’t, then: 1. Ask God for direction and help. 2. Don’t pick on or critique your children – save that for everyone else in the world. 3. Look them in the eye when they speak. 4. Listen to their words.


Thanks for reading.

  • Kristen Daukas
    Posted at 20:42h, 12 March Reply

    I have to remind myself of this often. It’s a tough balance between wanting to “sculpt” them and letting them be who they are and who they want to be. They have enough judgement outside these walls, I don’t want to be that person, too. Thanks for the reminder!

    • JJ Landis
      Posted at 20:44h, 12 March Reply

      Thank you for your comment and encouragement Kristen!

  • Ruth
    Posted at 20:21h, 12 March Reply

    Loved this post so much!! I am thrilled that you and E can enjoy this sort of relationship. So many of the things you mention C and I are still doing , and it’s been such a blessing to have her want to spend time with me, to share about her day, and to enjoy some of the dubious pleasures that the guys around here just don’t get. 🙂

    • JJ Landis
      Posted at 20:39h, 12 March Reply

      Thanks Ruth! I am happy to hear even almost grown-up girls still like their moms!

  • Rose Schwartz
    Posted at 16:34h, 11 March Reply

    Excellent post and a great reminder to stop and take time for my preteens and teenagers. This is a vital time to soak them up and all that they have to offer. I so enjoy reading your posts .. every time!

    • JJ Landis
      Posted at 16:38h, 11 March Reply

      Thanks Rose!!

  • Amelia Rhodes
    Posted at 23:20h, 10 March Reply

    Sigh. Love this. Tonight, it was painting nails and braiding wet hair for a little one who suffered a big disappointment today. Time, love, and being allowed to feel the disappointment, yet not be alone in it.

    • JJ Landis
      Posted at 15:27h, 11 March Reply

      Aw, that’s a sweet picture, Amelia. Thanks for commenting.

  • Brenda L. Yoder
    Posted at 10:18h, 10 March Reply

    Be what your kids need now – I love it.

    • JJ Landis
      Posted at 11:25h, 10 March Reply

      Thanks (as always) Brenda!

  • Shannon Bauer
    Posted at 22:50h, 09 March Reply

    Couldn’t agree more! I think adolescence is harder the 2nd time around! It was easier for us then than it is to watch our kids go through it now.

    • JJ Landis
      Posted at 11:24h, 10 March Reply

      I hear ya, Shannon!

  • Becky
    Posted at 21:13h, 09 March Reply

    Well said and an especially good reminder to those of us who still have young kids. Thanks for your insight.

    • JJ Landis
      Posted at 11:24h, 10 March Reply

      Thanks for commenting Becky!

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