Tag Archive for children

Lessons You Learn by Becoming A Mother

Motherhood has a way of teaching us surprising lessons.

It challenges pre-conceived notions about life.

lessons

Motherhood is both wonderful and exhausting, exciting and mundane.

The emotions of motherhood, the highs and lows and the rate they change, cannot be tallied or tracked on paper. How can someone I love so much frustrate me this much!? How can I be worried so much about someone who has a total mass of less than 25 lbs!?  I’m not being dramatic. The love a mother has for her children cannot be exaggerated. Still, even the most observant mothers need to experience certain things in order to fully understand.

For instance, if you thought that a normal bedtime was 7 p.m., you’d be wrong. That’s apparently THE VERY HOUR when children become scared, hungry, interested in books, and downright thirsty. Oh, then they need to use the bathroom.

If you thought 7 a.m. was the normal time to “rise and shine”, you’re wrong again. The ideal time to rise is based on the first rays of light coming through the window. Room darkening shades are a TOTAL waste of money.

If you thought that toddler’s tantrums were based on reality or reason, I don’t even know what to tell you, except you need to spend more time with kids. Tantrums, as it turns out, are based on perception of extreme mistreatment and injustice like the wrong colored sippy cup being administered, the wrong drink IN the sippy cup, the wrong character on the cup, or the wrong person handing them the cup.

Tantrums can be triggered by the desire to NOT wear a jacket, the mention of going to the store, not being allowed to buy candy once inside said store, being buckled into a car seat, or simply the urge to go outside right.at.this.very.moment even though it’s only 5 a.m.

Watching a tantrum is like watching a writhing, shrieking, sobbing contortionist performing his final act.

20140625-224355-81835698.jpg

Children will embarrass you. They’ll point out people’s worst features –in front of them– at loud decibels– whilst pointing. Subtlety is not a strength.

You learn that toddlers’ appetites are unpredictable. They refuse to eat one day, causing you to panic and take temperatures. “You have to eat, or you’ll get sick! Wait, are you sick!?” 

Oh, and food tastes change dramatically as well. On Monday they love carrots, and the next day, NEWSFLASH, all that has changed and they are willing to DEFY THE WORLD in order to not have to eat them at dinner time.

As they grow, the lessons are less obvious and take more time to learn.

You’ll learn the delicate balance of letting go during those tricky years between 11-18 when normal things become slightly embarrassing like kissing them in front of their friends, wiping their face in front of their friends, and reminding them of the family rules in front of their friends.

You learn that sometimes they really need to talk to their mother and sometimes they don’t. You learn to be perceptive to these times so you don’t miss them.

You learn that sometimes you need to let them fail in order to learn the lessons that will help them become responsible adults. And when they do fail, your mom-heart breaks as much as theirs. Conversely, when they succeed, your heart bursts with pride and excitement.

IMG_8920

You learn that Time has a way of showing up and declaring “The End” to the childhood phase all together.

As they leave, you’ll learn that they take pieces of your heart with them out the door on their journey.

As they leave, you’ll look back fondly on the days when the scuffle of feety pajamas on the wooden floor broke the 5 a.m. morning silence. (You might not even mind recalling the sound of tantrums.)

You realize that time was precious and memories were made in the midst of what seemed like the mundane whirl of family chaos: running to lessons, buttoning jackets, combing hair, family meal time, working on homework, games in the yard, snuggling to watch a movie, or family pizza night.

Moms, the “ordinary days” were actually an extraordinary gift from God.

20140513-191928.jpg

Motherhood is a gift, every stage of it.

I’m so thankful for that gift, and for my children, who taught me so much and still teach me every day!

A Little Trick I’ve Learned By Homeschooling

Because I have five children and home school them all, I have learned a little survival trick in life. This trick is called “zoning out.”

Incase you are not a “zoner”, let me tell you how this works. My kids will be incessantly talking to me or trying to show me something (usually two of them at a time) while I am already doing a gazillion things at once. To the untrained eye, I appear to be listening, nodding now and then and giving an obligatory “ah-ha”, but in truth, I am in the zone…zoned out, that is.

I have to tell you that I really hate this about myself.

I want to be all there for my kids.

Children need attention, and relationships are built on times of undivided attention.

I love my kids and want them to know that I am their biggest cheerleader, but somehow when I am “in the zone” I am sending them the message that they are bothering me, just plain boring or worse, that I am totally uninterested in their little lives.

I am my child’s first teacher. Their first impressions about life and their worth come from me. The way that I respond to them verbally and non verbally sends LOUD messages about their value to me and  as a human being. And sometimes when I am not thinking,(aka zoned) the messages that I send are not the messages I want them to learn.

For example, say your little guy runs up to you with a fist full of your geraniums that you planted (and really did not want picked bare.)  Your response/reaction sets a tone for your relationship. When you are “in the zone”, you would most likely just react. You  scold. But most likely this little human being was expressing affection and was  looking for a warm response in return. Of course, you would have seen that if you had been “all there.” He was  relating to you and sharing with you. You can replace a geranium, but you may not ever be able to recover the heart after sharp words are spoken. (Direction and instruction about not picking planted flowers can come later.)

The atmosphere of the home should be warm, welcoming and accepting of the whole child, and this does not happen when I am zoned out.

Zoning out sends the message that we are uninterested when we should actively  encourage creativity, even at an early age, by praising their little attempts and  by telling them how much we appreciate the fact that they shared it with us. We should listen to their stories and ideas. Listening to and caring about what your child values endears you to them and sets up an atmosphere of trust in the home.

Does your child feel free to try something new and fail? Do you hover over your child’s projects to make sure they “do it right.” Mistakes should be expected. None of us are perfect. If failure is a big deal with mom, they will not risk it.  Anytime your child shares with you, either a thought or a project, they are relating. They are looking to you for love and acceptance.

“Mommy, look at the paper dolls I made.”

“Mommy, listen to this song I learned on my violin.”

“Look at how high I can jump in these sneakers.”

“Do you like my picture, Mom?”

“Does my hair look all right?”

“Does this shirt look okay on me?”

The response that you give and the tone in which it is delivered speaks volumes.

“OH MY, those dolls are lovely.”

“What a smartie you are on that violin.”

“Wow, that IS a high jump!”

“Creativity needs an audience, some appreciation, the response of another human being.” Edith Schaeffer.

No matter how dumb the project or thought, a child should never be told they are stupid. Insulting or humiliating a child could close a door to that child’s heart that may never be opened to you again. (And if you do say something that hurts your child, by all means, ask forgiveness. Restore the relationship. They have feelings too!)

“The human being looking for understanding needs to find it at this moment. The need for sharing …needs response. The spark must meet another spark or the fire dies out and dark discouragement can flood in.”

Edith Schaeffer

If you are a distracted or zoned out mom like I can tend to be, let me share how I regroup and refocus:

  • Place reminders for yourself around the house, on the fridge, or near the sink where you wash dishes.  Mine currently say “ Only speak words that make souls stronger.” and “Every day is a little Life.”  and “Speak only what builds others up, and ministers grace to the hearer.”
  • Think of not having your child. We don’t have any guarantees, you know. Then thank God for the day that you do have, and live it fully with your child.
  • Realize that someday you will be alone in your house with all the quiet your heart can take…but for now, invest in your kids hearts.

Disclaimer:

There ARE times when a mother needs quiet time for herself! I am not talking about being totally child centered to the point of exhaustion and neglect of the mother.

When the kids were little, and I couldn’t get out as easily, we use to sit on the couches with books and all read or do puzzles quietly for a half hour. Other times Peter would watch the kids so I could go out and have some “sanity time.” I would go to a coffee shop, antiquing or out to lunch with a friend. My little time out and about made me a better person all around and I was refreshed and ready to jump back into life. I was ready to be all there for my kids again.

Traditions Are Memories You Choose To Create

Spring Table Setting

Easter is just around the corner. Do you have any special family traditions?

If not, I would encourage you to start some!

When you choose a family tradition, you are making a memory through consistency and ritual.  It takes a little planning (and of course work on the part of the mother) but it is worth the effort.

There is something about saying, ‘We always do this,’ which helps keep the years together. Time is such an elusive thing that if we keep meaning to do something, but never do it, year would follow year with no special thoughtfulness being expressed in making gifts, surprises, charming table settings, and familiar food. Tradition is a good gift intended to guard the best gifts.

-Edith Schaeffer

In our home for Easter, I love finding pretty spring dresses and white shoes for my little girls, and scouring the Talbot’s Outlet for my teenage girls. (I loved, past tense, dressing my son in plaid shorts and a light blue vest but my husband informs me that he is too old for that now. Okay, he is 13.)

Early Easter morning, I make a huge breakfast with the same menu every year: biscuits and sausage gravy, strawberry crepes, fresh fruit, O.J, and coffee. I decorate the table with hyacinth and tulips. I use my antique china. I put a piece of Peter Rabbit chocolate on each plate along with a piece of jewelry for the girls and a doodad for Matthew. I am up at the crack of dawn and I think of my sisters in Christ who were THERE  at the tomb so early that first Easter morning!

We are big on traditions in our family. I don’t know if it is our deep New England roots or an aversion to change that makes us this way, but we love having a rhythm to life.

So why traditions? They give a child a sense of belonging, security and history.

  • Traditions connect your child to your individual family. My own children love knowing that  “WE do it this way and you are part of US.”  
  • Traditions connect your child to previous generations.  “This was great grandmothers china and she used it on Thanksgiving.” or “Grandmother always made homemade cranberry relish, so we will too.”
  • And if you have the luxury of having a godly heritage, your traditions can remind your children of God’s faithfulness to them and to past generations. “Grandpa always supported missionaries, and we will too.” “Opening our home to other Christians is what early Christians did and we are called to do the same.” “God took care of us through this situation and He will care for you, too.”

As we age, traditions brings back memories of time spent with loved ones now gone.

Each family should have some old traditions and some that are unique to just their immediate household. They can be elaborate or simple. But they must be intentional.

Some simple examples:

  • “Each year we plant pansies on the first day spring. Let’s go get some!”
  • “We stop for ice cream on the way home from church if the temperature hits 90 degrees.”
  • “The birthday child always goes out for breakfast with daddy while the other kids decorate the house with surprises.”

Grandparents have their traditions with their grandchildren, and husbands and wives have their own little traditions.

Think ahead to when you have an empty house someday and ask yourself “What are things I want my children to remember?” or “What do I want my grandchildren to value some day?” Then write them down, and slowly start implementing them into your life, being vocal about the fact that you are purposefully going this each year as a family.

You can impact generations for Christ by intentionally choosing your special family times and traditions. It takes forethought, planning and work, but the memories you’ll make and the impact you’ll have are WELL worth it.

You may enjoy this free pdf:  Treasuring God In Our Traditions available free here.

Mothering for the Kingdom

Peter was teaching on witnessing to our teen group. He mentioned that someday we will be accountable to have witnessed to those who are closest to us. God puts us in a circle of influence and He wants us to be witnesses there first. Door to door witnessing is okay, but in the scheme of eternity, we are responsible first for those we have relationships with- that we actually know and rub shoulders with on a daily basis.

Fast forward :  As I am driving along in silence, where I do some of my best thinking, my mind races and thoughts formulate and I realize yet again that the same concept is true of Motherhood.

I am most responsible for those in my direct circle of influence: My kids and husband. My home.


Nobody else can feed my family three meals a day. I am responsible for that job. The Lord sees whether  I do it for Him or not.

Nobody else can care for my home and guard it against ungodly influences. My job again. Again, the Lord sees all.

Nobody else will answer for the things that MY kids were taught. That is my job.

The list could go on and on.

While my kids are young and in my care, this needs to be my first priority. And it is soooo hard. We think  it’s not important, because all around the messages are the exact opposite.

I am told that in order to be fulfilled, I need to buy certain clothes, cars, and live in a suburban part of the city. And in order to do all of those things, you need money…lots of it.

Last time I checked the front of Glamour Magazine, I am pretty sure the cover was not about being a house wife.

Nobody appears on Oprah to tell how they scrimped and saved on groceries so that they could stay home and wash sticky hands. again. and. again.

Changing diapers and cutting up food into bit sized pieces just doesn’t make the big screen. It isn’t glamourous enough.

So, in this area I need God’s grace yet again, in order to renew my mind. To think the thoughts He thinks. To agree with His estimation.

He tells me to keep my home. To teach my children. To love my husband. To entertain- even strangers. And to do it for Him and so that the gospel will look attractive.

Someday, God will reward me, and other moms who “Mothered for the Kingdom.” Even if this whole world thinks I am a failure, isn’t it nice to know that God sees and rewards in the end?

Instant Messaging my Kids

I have been thinking a lot about words. The words I use every day with my kids. As a homeschooling mom, my kids are with me all day. They  see and hear all that I do. As  I was thinking about training them the right way, I was reminded that my life and example is what teaches them. Period. I can formally lecture them about what is important to me, but ultimately they will know what I value  by what I say and do. 

So, if my life is the message, what is it saying? 

Is it saying:

 “God dependent” or “self-reliant?”

  “Word filled” or “world filled?”

“Content in life” or “complainer?”

“Kind and loving” or “bitter and hateful?”

  “Others focused” or “self-absorbed?”

This week I am praying that God will enable me to live the message. His message. I am praying that He will help me to want to put my own wants and feelings aside and to walk humbly through life as though Jesus Christ is right beside me, walking along with me, witnessing my words and actions. Because He is. And I will answer to Him someday for the job that I did with the kids He entrusted to me.