All I wanted to be when I was a little girl was a mommy. I am so happy that the Lord chose to bless us with 6 beautiful children – three girls and three boys. My definition of “mother” involved the timeline that began with the newborn baby – where your life seems to revolve around feeding schedules, diaper changes and not enough sleep -to the day they walk out of your home to begin their own homes. However, I have come to believe that definition is not true.
We have heard the expression “once a mother, always a mother”, but do we believe that? I am an avid people watcher. I soak in their lives and I try to learn from it. Some times I learn what to do, and other times I learn what not to do! I have read many help books on parenting. I have read psychology books about personalities and how to deal with children. I have read about love languages and positive affirmation and discipline and correction and on and on and on! I have always been hungry for anything that will help me be a good mom and raise these kids right.
Cramming my head with all this stuff can really leaving me feeling dizzy!! Do I snuggle and cuddle while trying to build up their self-esteem, or do I discipline them while acting out tough love? Do I be their best buddy so we are open and communicating or do I just “be the parent” and tell them how it will be around here. Do I give them what they deserve or do I exercise grace? Do I…..? See what I mean? I think the answer to all of these questions is yes!
As my children are getting older, the definition of “mother” has changed for me. I thought it was loving them and keeping them alive until adulthood! I thought it was making sure their spiritual, emotional and physical needs were met. I thought it was delivering them successfully into adulthood. And, it is all those things. But it is much more than I used to think!
I have watched adults who are so upset at their kids and just rip them up on social media. When they are 3 they won’t know it, but when they are teenagers they will. This makes me pause and think once again. I watch teens who I know and love and I believe they love their parents, but there seems to be such a disconnect from their parents! So I pause and think again. I look at my kids and my mothering and I think, “Does it end when they grow up?” I know how I feel about my parents…as a middle-aged woman! Do I need them? Yes. Do they need me? Yes. So, if there is a disconnect, where and why did it happen? I look at my own children, who I love more than life itself, and I don’t want that to happen!
All of these thoughts, have brought me to my evolved belief system.
- I believe I am not just raising kids, I am raising future adults.
To be adults, they must have the adult skills they need to face life. They have to do things they don’t want to do, they must have accountability, they must know that hard work and honesty is of vital importance.
So, yes, I must have tough love and at times tell them to quit their crying and do it even if it is hard. Yes, they need responsibilities and learn the good feeling you get with a job well done. They must not live with their feelings on their shirt sleeves. They must learn to go on in life regardless of what people say.
But they also need me to praise their accomplishments when they have worked hard. They need me to put an arm around them and teach them why these things are important for their future. They need to know that I am so happy with the grown ups they are becoming and that together, we will all get there. They must know who they are in Christ and it doesn’t matter what people say about you.
- I believe I am not just raising adults, but I am raising future friends.
Their future friends will be their spouses, their children, their co-workers, their fellow church members and many other people who cross their path in life.
To be a good friend, they must be kind. They must think of others above themselves. They must have thoughtfulness. They must have self-control, unselfishness, kindness, humility and strength.Those are character traits that must be taught for them to be a friend in life.
So, yes I must discipline them when they are mean or hateful. I must guard what feeds their hearts, because what goes in will come out. I must not allow uncaring words or actions.
But I must lead these sessions of life, not only in word but in my own deeds!! They must see me be a good friend. And how hypocritical if I were to be a good friend to all except my own children? That seems like a great crime! So, I must practice my friendship not only with others, but most especially with my children! My children are my best friends, but they know who the boss is. I do not believe you have to choose “mom” or “friend.” I do not believe those words should ever be separated. Which leads to my next point.
- I believe I am not only raising future friends, I am raising MY future friends!
There is no doubt that as our children get older, God puts in them an independence that is needed for them to grow out of our homes. That draw for independence, while still living in my home, can cause a lot of stress and arguments. Those arguments can lead to hard feelings and fellowship being broken between parents and kids. Do I want an argument with my child to start building walls between me and my future friends and the parents of my grandchildren? I don’t think so! So, the things that I do during those times will either try to break down those walls or will build it up higher. Side rant: this leads me to the social media bashing of our children. Please do not post your disagreements with your children! Maybe they do? Well, that just proves their immaturity. It doesn’t have to prove ours.
Because I want them to be my friends when they grow up, I want to make sure that I am doing my part to make that always happen. My children may grow up and make choices that I don’t like, but I will always like my children. My goodness, I wonder how many times growing up my kids don’t like the choices I make for them, but they still love their mom! I am so glad!
One thing I have learned as an adult child, is that I can be hurt more as a grown up, than I even was as a kid! Kids are very forgiving and tend to move on quickly. We adults don’t do that as easy. My feelings have been hurt more as an adult than they ever were as a kid! What does this mean? It means that the older I get, and the older my kids get, the more I want to make sure that I am showing them a mother’s love! Not just those wiggly babies, but those independent grown ups! They will need my love and care as much then as they ever have! Ask anyone who doesn’t have their parents in their lives anymore and they will agree with me.
These roads into their adulthood are being built now! I want to be part of the building crew and not demolition.
- I believe that instead of worrying about failing, I just need to let them know I have failed…and will fail again.
This is reality. I will never be a perfect mom. I will never handle every situation correctly. I will never judge each argument fairly. I will never be in a good mood every day. I will never be patient and kind in every situation. And they won’t either. We need much grace and much forgiveness!
- I believe that instead of worrying about “being” right, I need to “do” right.
I like to be right. Plain and simple. My kids do too because they have a big dose of their mother in them! But, we know that doing right is more important than being right. Doing right by apologizing, doing right by righting wrongs, doing right by making sure that no petty arguments ruin our relationships are much more important than being right about something that we won’t even remember years later.
My very wise Aunt Beth, who is the mother of 12 children, told me early on in motherhood to enjoy every stage! The older I get, the more I realize that I have not even stopped going through stages and my kids won’t either. The choice must be to enjoy them in every stage the rest of my life. Once a mother, always a mother? Absolutely! My roles may change and evolve at the different stages of their lives, and I know that I will have to adjust to those changes, but I need my kids and they need me. That makes me really happy.
What does this post have to do with Christmas, disability or anything else I typically write about? Not a single thing!! Just glad to be a mom today.
7 thoughts on “My Changing Thoughts On Being A Mother”
I’ve been reading your blog for a while now, thanks to a mutual friend named Gina, but I don’t remember if I have ever commented before. I have TM, but I just wanted to say I appreciate this post. I went through some of those struggles (tough love or grace., etc.) as they were growing up, and prayed for wisdom more for my parenting than for just about anything else, I think. I so agree abut being a friend and a mom and about how our role never ends but changes.
Good thoughts, from another mother who’s learned some of the same lessons.
I’ve been reading your blog on and off after coming across your husband’s some time ago. Today I saw this newspaper article about some boys who offered to help a stranger in a wheelchair because their own mother has to use a wheelchair. I hope it will encourage you that this part of your life is teaching your children compassion for others that they might not otherwise notice.
Thank you so much for sending me this story!!! I love it! I pray God always stirs our hearts in compassion!
My wife just suffered a spinal cord injury a little over a year ago. I hope she gets the same learning lessons and moves forward in life just like you have. She is doing some incredible recovery at the Center for Neuro Recovery in South Florida. I hope that she keeps this going in a positive direction. Thank you so much for your blog and I look forward to your next post
I am so sorry for you wife Will. If I can be a friend to her, let me know! I am on Facebook and would love to connect!
Thank you for being her support and encouragement!
Thank you so much Alicia, I will let her know