Having kids changes us. As new-found love swells in our heart, the beautiful responsibility of caring for another human being who is totally dependent on us rocks our world. Initially my transformation into mom was for the better, but after raising three kids over 25 years, my kids have seen quite a bit of for the worse. Case in point, the following snippet from my journal:
I came home from the store tonight and there was a burning candle, a glass of pink milk, and a beautiful card from Johnny on the kitchen counter. He was thanking me for setting such a good example lately by not yelling at him and the other two kids.
My son was eight years-old. I was 32. Yes, as in 32 years-old.
Something’s off kilter when a mere 3rd grader praises his adult mother with candles and sweet nothings for keeping her voice down. The key word in the journal entry is lately, which infers my behavior before lately must have been Dr. Phil worthy.
When it comes to extolling good behavior, shouldn't the roles in a parent/child relationship be reversed? You would think, but then there’s the above scenario that suggests my Swiss cheese mothering boasted some mean-sized holes.
It takes a great deal of humility to accept the fact that God blesses us with children for a very specific purpose. Children come into our lives to teach. And teach they do.
We begin the parenting gig expecting to be our offspring’s primary instructors of life, the voice of all reason, and connoisseurs of the finest wisdom. But our self-proclaimed superstar status takes a major hit each time our children bewilder us with behaviors and actions not listed in the bestselling book, What to Expect When You're Expecting.
Two of my children liked to paint with the contents of their Pampers, another thought reading a book meant tearing out all the pages. One day when my boys were “taking a nap” they decided to turn the second floor of our home into a makeshift swimming pool. Buckets upon buckets of water hauled from the tub and dumped on the carpet. Where was I when these shenanigans were taking place you ask? Working in my home office, trying to cram as much productivity into naptime as possible. Oh, the irony.
Children turn our worlds upside down. Or maybe right side up. Over time we realize parenting molds us into a jack of all trades but a master of none. Humbling? Yes. Feel-good story of mothering? Not so much.
I have three teachers under my roof who God uniquely designed and placed in our family to point out massive flaws in my character. He blessed me with a master of patience, a guru of fearlessness, and a mentor of unconditional love. All the fruits of my womb teach kindness, compassion, honesty and forgiveness.
Forget the twelve years of schooling and four years of college under my belt, that kind of smarts doesn’t hold a candle to the education received in child rearing. By my 27th birthday I had regressed to toddlerhood while my three kids wielded Gandhi-like status. Over time I felt a little smarter after earning a Master’s in I Will Never Be Like That When I’m A Mom and a PhD in Eating Crow.
My kids mentored me in countless ways. Their love carried me through difficult postpartum depression. When I was suffocating in exhaustion and frustration over a dirty house, loads of laundry, messy kitchen, smelly bathrooms, and empty refrigerator their smiles gave me herculean strength to push through the day. In the seasons of insomnia stemming from hormones on hyper-patrol, I found refreshment gazing upon the angelic expressions of my children while they slept.
Our kids are gifts from God made special-order with lessons for us hardwired into their DNA. He knows the exact moment we need enlightenment. Loving our kids comes easy. Becoming teachable along the way falls under the realm of higher education. That’s what makes me and any of us a good mom. The payoff of our humility is a generational game-changer.
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