When she speaks, her words are wise, and she gives instructions with kindness.
As a parent, I question myself a lot.
I question my husband a lot. Our tactics. Are we carefully parenting? Are we mindful of how our words or actions can affect our children long term? I scrutinize my own words once they hit the air. And I judge myself. Perhaps sometimes too harshly, I don't know.
Those times when I lose my patience.
I really think about the future a lot as a parent. I think about their future.
If I am honest, I would say it is an area where fear has crept in and I have to continually ask the Lord for wisdom,
"Am I doing this right~this mom thing? Am I really the best mom that he (or she) could have?"
My kids tell me all the time that I am the best mommy in the world. Of course they think the world of me, but I want more than that. I want everything for them. I want to teach them to think about the future. Not in 'what do you want to be when you grow up' kind of way. But more of a 'WHO do you want to be when you grow up' kind of way?
And I want them to WANT to be a person of integrity and character. I want them to WANT to love Jesus. I want them to WANT to treat others with respect and kindness. I don't know that I was ever really challenged with that question-who do you want to be? I don't know that it would have mattered to me at such a young age.
Is everything 'because I told you so?'
Is it? Seriously? Is it? Is that just how it is with kids? At what point do they decide to start treating their siblings nicely just because they love them? I mean, DO they love them? At what point do they decide to do their homework because they are simply motivated to do so on their own? Okay, that second question may have been reaching, because I don't ever remember being motivated to do homework, but I know their are kids more ambitious than I was. How do I make my kids be one of those kids? How do we get our kids to think about their future?
I read this incredible post by Lysa TerKeurst called Before They Go To School...Have This Conversation and it spoke volumes to me. It was all about teaching our kids to pre-decide who they want to be. Who do you want to be when your friends are making fun of someone? Who do you want to be when you come across drugs? Who do you want to be when your mom asks you to clean your room? It's all about WHO you want to be...Decide right here and now what you will do when you come across this, this or this... Decide right now what attitude you will have no matter what when this happens.
(By the way this is just as good for us adults. I'm all about pre-deciding lately)
Does that make sense? Our kids are young. We make them do what we (our family) do, of course. And we will continue to do so. But I also want them to one day choose for themselves to do it because we are instilling it in them to do it the right way and it's something admirable and it's truth. Not JUST 'because I told you so.' I want to get it into their heads now to choose the right attitude before they become teenagers and choose the wrong one. Make a decision NOW who you want to be and start working on that person. Don't wait until your life is filled with mistakes that you have to go back and try to fix, patching up scars and broken hearts. I want to shield them from the mistakes I made. I want to shield them from hurt. And the only way I know to do that is to teach them to decide WHO they will be in 10 or 20 years and start making their choices now to be that person.
It's so hard to do though with kids. Their world is NOW.
They can't seem to comprehend that choices we make today affect our tomorrow. Their laziness about their messy room may not seem like its a big deal today, but it is the attitude about it that may very well affect their life tomorrow. It's a daily prayer of mine as a parent to get this right. I love the word intentional. It means I do things on purpose. I don't want to parent by default. Some days we can't help it. Toddler meltdowns. Newborn cries. Pre-teen attitudes. Teenager drama. Life doesn't always go as planned. But I can always intentionally look to the Lord for wisdom. And in between all the ins and outs of a sometimes messy momma's life, he can give me the words to say with the patience to say it (not scream it).
I was thinking about this today on our exhausting car ride home from our mini vacation today. One in which ended with my oldest son being grounded from the computer after his complaining followed by disrespect for me followed by public defiance. He kept asking and crying for another chance after we had given him several already. My mind was exhausted. I cried silently "Lord, I don't know what to do. What am I doing wrong?"
I heard this. You are more.
You are more than a strict mom and more than a too permissive mom. You are more than a mean mom and more than a not enough mom. You are more than a mom that yells too much and more than a mom that doesn't discipline enough. You are more than an exhausted mom and more than lazy mom. You are more than a tired mom. YOU ARE MORE. I gave you THESE children and I gave you the ability to handle them, care for them, nurture them, teach them, discipline them, instruct them, love them & play with them. YOUR kids were given by ME to be blessings to YOU. I trusted YOU with these precious lives because I knew with my grace and my strength you are MORE than what you see or feel.
You have ME living on the inside of you to guide you and lead you through their different life transitions. Keep asking me and I will keep instructing you...and don't be afraid of their future. My word says "Start children off in the way they should go, and when they are old, they will not turn from it." `Proverbs 22:6
The Lord just reassured me that its not by my strength, but by his strength that lies in me.
As parents, we should never ever hesitate to ask God for his wisdom. Cry to him & reach up asking him for a refreshing of strength each day. Commit your day to him before it even begins. Commit those little lives to him each day. If they are more His than ours, then He will be there to instruct you how to love them. Being a mom is hard. It's lots of work. It is a life of selflessness and patience, endurance and never giving up. We should never have "had enough" of them, nor should we give up on ourselves. We can do this.