Tuesday, March 31, 2009

The blessing of loving my child...

Let me start this post by saying that this is the ramblings of a struggling mother, things that I am myself going through, and hopes of comforting any other mamas going through the same things.

I am reading a book called Feminine Appeal by Carolyn Mahaney and meeting with a dear friend and great mother that i really aspire to be, in hopes of being mentored and descipled into the woman that God calls me to be.

The past few weeks have really been tough on me as a mother with my crazy defiant toddler consistently pushing boundaries. I feel like Aliens came one night, took my super sweet boy and brought me this unruly, fit-throwing, toy-snatching, toy-throwing, "no!"-screaming little boy that just happens to look the same as the child i gave birth to. I have had the spirit sucked out of me, doubted my parenting and worried what others thought of both my son and I in the midst of the tornado i am in called "my life."

I want to share with you some things i have learned from the book, talking with my dear friend, and convictions from the Lord to both hold myself accountable and maybe help someone else struggling to find their smile as a mother.

Uncommon Love-
First, it is important to have our perspective on motherhood not based on our different experiences or emotions that are all over the place, but rather God's view and measure. We are called to have a phileo love for our children, which is a tender, affectionate, passionate love. Often we as mothers are committed to caring sacrificially for our little ones, but too often neglect to enjoy them. While it is noble to sacrifice for our children, God calls us to something more in Titus 2 than just a dutiful love.

No Weekends off-
In the "career" of motherhood there are no weekends off, no paid vacations, no bonuses or yearly raises, and no quitting. It is just day-in and day-out giving. There are times when we don't feel we have another ounce of energy to give. Because mothering requires a never-ending sacrifice we can be tempted to be resentful, complain, and have self-pity. But this selfishness will quickly sap the strength of our love for our child. I have realized that motherhood has become a duty instead of a joy. I have been so focused on the sacrifices and have failed to appreciate the daily pleasures of raising my little man. We can either resent the challenges and demands that come with motherhood and wallow in our selfishness, or we can draw from God's grace and receive His to cheerfully lay down our lives for our child....with a smile!

Strength for the Weary-
Have you lost your smile? I have tearfully lost mine. How do we find renewed joy to sacrificially serve and tenderly love our children? Our only genuine source of refreshment comes from God. In Him, and Him alone do we get that fresh strength to carry out our task of mothering. We have to seize time alone to meet with God. Jesus himself, when multitudes were coming to him with their needs often withdrew to lonely places and prayed (Luke 5). {doesn't that sound like our days? children coming to mom with needs?} If Jesus needed to withdrawal frequently and pray in order to receive His Father's help and strength, do we think we need those times any less? I have to get my bucket filled from the only true source. Such joy can only come from Christ.

Beware of Indulgence-
Giving in to selfishness to spare the inevitable crying or to not have to deal with his need for discipline is both lazy and selfish on my part and the consequences will negatively affect both him and us. It is far better that he should cry under healthy correction, than we cry afterwards under the bitter fruit to both ourselves and our son, of neglected discipline. I have to remain consistent, diligent and hopeful that the days of endless timeouts will one day pay off. When the walls of boundaries that are firmly set by us as parents are learned by our little man the testing will die down and peace will once again take presence over ciaos. I must realize that warm, affectionate love does not conflict with my responsibility to biblically teach and discipline my child. My fear to secure his approval and affection and not risk his displeasure by withholding discipline would be sinful indulgence and not biblical love.

Tender thoughts-
I have been viewing my son as a 40hr work week when God wants us to think of him as a reward. The responsibility of motherhood is a delight and not a burden. What words or images come to mind when you think about your children? work, responsibility, sacrifice, burden, more work? The psalmist used heritage, fruit, reward, arrows to describe children. Our speech and actions are shaped by our thoughts.

Number Our Days-
How many times have we been told, "they grow up so fast!"? How right these people are. We need to take time showing love in seemingly insignificant activities like singing, reading, talking. Pray for your child daily, encourage them, and give small gestures of kindness.

Our Highest Objective-
This is the thought that should be uppermost on your mind in all you do for your children. In every step you take about them, in every plan, and scheme, and arrangement that concerns them, do not leave out that mighty question, "How will this affect their souls?" The chief end of mothering is not that our children be happy, fulfilled and successful. Granted, we do desire these things for them. But our highest objective should be that our children would repent from their sins, put their trust in Jesus Christ, and reflect the gospel to the world around them.

Grave Responsibility, Greater Grace-
What an enormous responsibility to be a mother!! Though the mission is grave and vast, God's grace is greater. So, if today you missed opportunities to show a tender love, or if you neglected to pray for your child, or if you were impatient with him, and even if you lost your smile and feel like a complete failure as a mother- take heart!! God's grace is sufficient for you. Look to the cross where Christ died. There He purchased forgiveness for our sins and power to grow in godliness. God will provide all the grace we need to love our children tenderly.

I have learned through reading this book and meeting with my dear friend, that i let what others may think about me as a mother, or my son as a crazy toddler drive my emotions. I think too often as mothers we thrive on defending our parenting styles, decisions in raising our little ones and everything in between to the point we engage ourselves in "mom wars". Why do we feel it necessary to prove a point by taking love out of the equation and replacing it with pride? I have to learn to be confident that i am parenting in the way of the Lord and not feel it necessary to defend that to anyone or give unwarranted advice. I pray that i can show wisdom and humility to stand tall with a closed mouth. May the Lord grant me grace, and may i be a light to my son.


the brock clan said...

I am sorry you have been having a rough time. We ALL are either going through this or have gone through this, or WILL go through this. It can be hard to be mommy sometimes, but it is great when we can get our heads on straight and realize what a joy it is to be able to be with our little ones! I have definitely felt the pressures you are talking about from other mommies or just people in general watching you (sometimes I feel like I am under a microscope and people only see the moments where I am struggling). I learned a while ago (not at all to say that I don't still feel this at times, b/c I do) that you can't focus on what people may think or say, you just have to do what you think you need to do to raise your children how God wants you to and if people don't agree, then to be blunt, they can just get over it! Know that you are NOT alone! I am glad you have a GREAT mother to help you through this time! I am always here to help too...not at all that I have it all together, but we can go through it together!

The Joys of having Boys said...

Thank you for such sweet words. I think this is great that you did this and in hopes that it reaches many mommies with the same struggles to give them a word of encouragement. My prayers are with you....

Christina said...

This is so beautiful! I know I am not a mommy, but it really touched my heart. As someone who does not have children yet, it really blessed me to hear what the Bible says about children - that they are a "heritage, a gift, arrows, a blessing". It is good for me to hear all you said. Thank you for your transparency. I know I have a lot to learn from you and many other moms as Kevin and I hope to become parents very soon!
I love you, Jenny. :)

Britt Foodies said...

what a great description and explination of motherhood. Thank you for the reminders, encouragement and genle rebuke. Love you co-mom