"I've been watching you,"

said the junior high camp speaker as he approached me after the evening meeting.

My heart sank and my face flushed. I'd heard similar words all week and wondered what he'd seen.

Had he seen my cabin of girls take the honey container from lunch? Another counselor did and turned them in for "stealing" and suspicion of vandalism-in-the-making a la "The Parent Trap. (The girls actually took it to use on the leftover cornbread at an afternoon 'picnic' they planned.)

Had he seen us all laughing and having fun during our trash pick-up 'punishment?'

Had he overheard some of the other campers claiming that my girls must be cheating because they won the themed 'cabin clean-up' every day (as well as most of the team games)?

Those were some of the complaints I'd heard from other counselors and staff that week. Our kids were having a fabulous time, but it seemed we were accused or criticized at every turn. I was beginning to feel like a failure as a counselor. And having the camp speaker single me out didn't help the feeling.

He continued, "I've been watching you and I've seen you giving 110% to your kids all week. And that's why you're seeing the results you are." Between Sunday night and Thursday night, nearly every one of my eight girls had prayed to make a life-changing commitment.

It was especially significant to me because these girls didn't come from church families. They came to camp with us and attended various events throughout the year, but this wasn't 'just another' church experience for them.

I've counseled at camp many other times, but that year will always stand out. Partly because of the awesome time I had with a precious group of girls. And partly because one person took the time to see past the obvious to the important and made the effort to let me know that the time and energy I invested into those girls was having a bigger impact than simply chaperoning their activities.

Sometimes motherhood feels like a "Groundhog Day" version of that week at camp. No matter how hard I try, or how much time I invest, it's a perpetual battle to keep the kids out of trouble--even when they don't mean to be causing any. And it so often seems that the days are filled with tending, feeding, correcting, separating, refereeing and so forth that we don't get around to the things I really want to be imparting to them.

But I do see the payoffs at times like when Bug has the chance to "shop" for things at the Sunday School store and he chooses something he knows his little brother will like. Or when my little one (3) asks from the back seat "why did Jesus take all our bad stuff on him and then die?"

It's so easy to feel criticized for spending too much time with the kids, choosing activities they'll like over ones we'd prefer, or trying to stick to bedtimes and such for their benefit. And yes, there's a balance needed in everything, but I can say that the lesson I learned as a camp counselor all those years ago serves me well as a mom. Giving 110% to your kids will pay off.

There's a long summer ahead of us. And there will be days when we're sure that we've done it all wrong. But Someone else is watching you, and He's seen your efforts and will bless them in ways you can't imagine. Be encouraged.


Tammy said...

thanks for the words of encouragement. They were a breath of fresh air.

elaine @ peace for the journey said...

I've made it through week one; I won't lie ... it's been a bit rough at times. I'm trying to make the most of each moment with my kids. I look around me and see so much suffering in the lives of people, and I am forever grateful for the relatively easy go of things right now.

I know that God is watching over me and is with me as I go. Honestly, I don't know how people live a life of hope and patient endurance without him.

peace to you, Mary. Thanks for prompting me over here. I need regular prompts please!


Beth E. said...

I hopped over from Elaine's, after reading your words of encouragement to her. I wanted to learn more about you! Your smiling face prompted me to visit.

I'm so glad I stopped by. I have enjoyed this post so much. I have been on the receiving end of that criticism, especially regarding the ways my hubby and I were raising our boys. Many felt that we have been 'too strict' with them by having a routine, setting guidelines and rules, having expectations, insisting on good behavior and good manners, etc.

I just want to encourage you to PRESS ON. Your children are obviously reaping the benefits of your godly parenting!

Blessings to you,
Beth E.

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