When I was young I really didn't have a lot of big dreams or aspirations. I knew in my heart getting married and having kids was what I wanted to do. I'm a nester and homebody, so a house and the white picket fence is what I dreamed of...a husband, a home, and a couple of kids.
I've come to learn as I've matured and worked in church ministries, that no family is perfect. Some of the people you see setting in church on Sunday morning all spiffed up and smiles are the same people that 30 minutes ago were yelling, fighting, and fussing at their kids. If anyone says they come from the "perfect" family then all I can say is, "Praise the Lord, and I hope you're not in denial".
Without getting too personal I will say, like many of you, that while I had a good and relatively happy childhood, it was not without it's problems and dysfunction. Problem is that I didn't realize the fallout from that "dysfunction" until I had already married and had two kids of my own. Dysfunction, (there's that word again) has a habit of revisiting itself on future generations. Things that happened to our parents in their youth unfortunately come down on the kids. Our parent's lack of parenting skills most likely were learned from their parents and so on.
If you've read my blog for awhile you know that I would really love to have some "do-overs" in my life. Where were the parenting classes I so desperately needed? In reality, I probably wouldn't have attended them. We never think we need the help until "life" lands on us and we're on the ground.
For most of my life I suffered from a lot of misinformation about God. I was afraid of Him and didn't have a concept of how much He really loved me. It's amazing how screwed up we can be if we don't have that one critical piece of information. God loves us. God loves us...
So in thinking about a few things that I wanted to pass along of what I've learned by being a mother, I will share the most important ones to me; seemingly small, but powerful concepts.
1. The old phrase from "Love Story" is totally inaccurate. Nice byline from a movie, but totally wrong! "Love means never having to say your sorry". Horse doody. God showed me after a long and painful separation from my younger daughter that at times we have to be willing to say "I'm sorry" and mean it. Even if you felt justified in your actions and attitudes. It's not how you perceive something, it's how the other person perceives it. If she felt I didn't love her or had hurt her, I better be willing to take responsibility by admitting my own mistakes. And you know what? I had made some. I just didn't see them until we started the dialogue. There is something about hearing those two words that start to mend and heal relationships. Ownership of words and actions...good place to start.
2. Don't lie or cover up with your kids. Be honest and keep them informed. They're smarter than they look. That doesn't mean you have to give them gory details. Just be willing to talk to your kids about what's going on. Secrets and coverups are the devil's playground. My parent's generation is a good case in point. Family secrets can be so destructive. My mother found out when she tried to get social security at age 65 that her sister was really her mother. She had been the product of "date rape" back in the early 1930's. Not a new scenario. Things were covered up, people went to their graves with that secret, and it had my dear mother reeling for months. I didn't know my grandmother as my grandmother, nor my girls their great grandmother. Always just an aunt; a loving one, but still just an aunt. I had a really hard time forgiving missing out on that relationship. My mom's hurt was visited upon me.
3. Take the time to do the little things. Don't always be in such a hurry that you miss out on the sweet and precious moments that we can have with our children. Being "present" and in the moment has been difficult for me a lot of my life. Don't get me wrong. We have had great times and laughs and so many memorable moments. I just wish I'd savored them more and considered the impact that would have on my girls and husband. A dirty floor can always wait. Work and projects and all the other non-essentials can never be compared to making cupcakes, taking an afternoon in the park, or going for a drive to see new places and things. Live in the present. In reality, that is all we really have.
4. Don't live your life through your children. Don't put pressure on them to do things you never were able to do. Don't put expectations on them that cause them to not be their own person. Let them explore who they are and who God is calling them to be. Respect that at an early age. We're all different, with different talents and dreams and desires. Don't confuse what you missed out on to be something that your children may enjoy or even be good at. Give them space to be who God is calling them to be...then be happy for them and celebrate their own accomplishments.
5. Learn to put others first...it's not all about me... enough said.
6. Be kind. If there is a raving maniac living inside of you, get a grip. Think of how we speak to our children and other children for that matter. Tender hearts can easily be broken or stepped on. This is something I needed help with. Anger, frustration, my own hurt, etc. comes out of me pretty matter of fact. I am changing, I just wish I would have done better when they were young. So many hard or harsh words that cannot be taken back. That is where #1. comes in. Learning to say you're sorry and then doing the right thing.
7.Trust God with your kids. They are a gift; and God loves them more than we could ever possibly love them. He knows their needs better than we do, but like any gift, He has expectations of their care from us; feeding, sheltering, loving them, teaching them. But there comes a time in their lives when we have to back off and let God have the reins. That's when prayer and trust kicks in. And sometimes sleepless nights. This is where knowing God's Word and Promises will help when nothing else can. Speaking the Word over my kids in their bedrooms when they are not home. Being on my knees on their behalf, then letting God take over. I have first hand proof that it works.
8. And then knowing that when they become adults they can be your best friends. My girls have weathered their own storms. They are now women that I respect and love and they nurture me. Having them in my life has taught me the values I was sorely lacking.
Thank you God for blessing me in life. It may not have been perfect but I love the scripture that says His mercies are new every morning... and they are.
Love, to all of you,
Have a blessed Mother's Day.