The stretching of the past year has been tough on our girl. There are days she handles it with grace, knowing that our current state is temporary. Yet to a 12-year old, temporary can seem like an eternity.
She's watched friends' dads go back to work, their lives resuming normalcy. While her own is anything but. It must be difficult for her to understand that we are living in a new normal. Sometimes, I struggle with that reality myself.
As she's learned to adjust to having a full-time student for a dad, I've learned a few things about her.
My girl is stronger than I thought.
She admits that she first saw R losing his job as a tragedy, but she realizes now that God is in control and that He is good. She's seen Him work in our family and has proclaimed that to her friends.
Some days the weight of "No, we can't afford that." or "Not this weekend. Dad has a lot of homework to do." is too much to bear. She complains. She is, after all, 12. In those times, I tell her that this temporary sacrifice is bringing great reward for our family. Not the reward of buying things we don't need in order to keep up with the Joneses, but the reward of a simple yet satisfying life. I remind her that R's working hard now so that (hopefully) he won't have to go back to a life of shift-work.
These reminders strengthen her resolve to persevere.
My girl is more adaptable than I thought.
She's learning to appreciate simple pleasures. In cooler months, we had family game nights and movie nights at home. We laughed. We cried. We snuggled. We enjoyed the quiet haven of our home.
She's been working alongside R to plan and plant our garden. Her hands have gotten dirty. Her eyes have sparkled. She is excited to watch the plants grow and produce food to sustain us.
This summer will bring homemade popsicles and ice cream, church softball, and evenings in the backyard. We'll savor our time together before the demands of school creep back into our lives.
My girl is funnier, more loving, and wiser than I thought.
As I watch her navigate the perils of middle school along with the tremendous changes in our family life, I'm amazed at some of the things she says and does. Little things, like drilling her dad for a quiz or helping with dinner, give me glimpses of the woman she's going to become. True, there are many, many times when I'm frustrated because I've had to tell her four times to do something. In those instances, I need to stop before I yell and remember occasions when she's done something without being asked. I need to remember just how hard it is to be 12. I need to give her grace.