A few years ago I was asked to speak on Mother’s Day about a few things I have learned as a young mother. I just found it in the depths of the cloud and I thought I would share it:
I am the mother of a fascinating and handsome young boy. I would like to share with you what I’ve learned as a mother, but first I need to tell you briefly where I come from. I come from a very matriarchal family. Although my grandmother was not a single mother by definition, she did the most part of raising her six children while my grandfather was in World War II, Korea, and the bar. It wasn’t until his heart attack that he allowed Christ to change him in a manner that redirected the lives of his family.
My mother, as one of the youngest of the six was able to grew up in that church. She had a wonderful youth there. As she got older two things happened. 1) She was in a horribly abusive relationship and 2) She began to witness hypocrisy and lack of love and grace in her church family. When she became pregnant she couldn’t bare to be judged and shamed, and let her daughter be shamed – so she left.
I can see now how many prayers went into my childhood. I can see now the godly people that were placed in my life. Regardless, I was a horribly rebellious teenager. All of those things that you do not want your teenage girl to do, I did. I had to learn lessons on my own. In a lot of ways that has never changed about me. My grandmother finally had enough and said “that’s it! You are going to church!”
My grandmother did so much for me, but that is the one thing I am most grateful for! I had a wonderful youth there! I went from fighting the idea of creationism to ministering. My heart changed and I couldn’t have been happier. As I got older two things happened. 1) I was in an abusive relationship and 2) I began to witness the hypocrisy and lack of love and grace in my church family. When I became pregnant I couldn’t bare to be judged and shamed. History repeated itself. Now, I can’t be entirely sure how much judging happened in reality and how much happened in my own head, but regardless I left the church and continued very much in my mothers footsteps.
My grandmother and my mother both were proud and insisted on being the best mother for their children, and provide for them in ways that their mother before them could not. They have both been known to go without so their kids would not. They were even more so as grandparents. I was no different. I was proud and would not be brought down! I alone would be a better parent
myself than if he had two! I finished my college diploma with a newborn and got a full time job with a 6 month old. Like my maternal influences before me, I didn’t sleep if there was cakes to decorate to perfection or camping trips to prepare for, or scrapbooks to make because I will be the best!
Do you see the huge flaw in this? Because I didn’t for quite some time!! Love is not proud. I prayed a lot in the early years that God would help me to be the best parent. But as I said I learn everything the hard way and I did not realize that I could not be a great mother without the best of fathers guiding my path. I could not love the the way we should love without knowing the one from whom this love came. I could not veer from my history until I allowed God to make a change.
Do not think for one moment that I feel anything but love for my grandmother and my mother or for the church that we came from. They are amazing women, and that was an incredible time in my history. Now that you know my history I will share with you 3 of the things I’ve been learning and implementing into our lives.
1) The power of prayer. I could give you a lot of examples of how God has moved in our lives, but I had to learn to pray without ceasing. One little trick that I learned from another mother was to pray instead of nag. Yes, it is important for my son to have responsibilities and become independent and aware that his actions effect others, but there is a fine line between teaching those things and nagging. So every time this mother picked up a sock, or fold a blanket, or move a bike she would pray for her son
and for their relationship. I have adopted this. If you have ever had, or ever were an 8 year old boy you will have some kind of idea of how much praying that means I’m doing for him. I pray for me as a parent. That I can become more loving and patient and kind.
I pray that he becomes a man of purpose. That he increases in wisdom. That he trusts God with all of his heart and in all ways acknowledges him. I pray that he directs his path, because I’m not always there. This has made a huge impact on our home, and our relationship. I can see God responding and I understand now that one of the most meaningful things we can do as parents is to teach our children the power of prayer and not just the routine of it. I know now that no matter how strong willed my son may be, God’s will is stronger. I know now that He tells us as parents, in the middle of feeling insufficient, “I will direct your steps. I will give you rest. I love you. I forgive you. It is worth it. My grace is sufficient. I will never leave you or forsake you.”
2) The power of words. You find yourself as a boy mom saying things you never thought you would say. “Underwear don’t go there.” “No, we can’t keep a frog for a pet.” and “Why are there so many hot wheels cars in the bathtub?” But you find yourself sometimes saying things that you swore you would never say. Like “because I said so.” and “how can you be so stupid!”. My son just tested with a exceptional IQ. He is many things, but stupid is not one of them. But what is stupid is branding somebody with negative words that shape their mind. Proverbs warns us about the tongues power of life and death. Paul told us not to let any unwholesome talk to come out of our mouths, but only what is useful for building others up according to their needs that it may benefit those who listen. We, as parents are in charge of building up our children in accordance with their needs. Our words become their thoughts, and their thoughts become reality. Our words as not just parents, but those around children, can inspire or destroy. It’s not just our words about our children that are so vitally important, but the words we speak to them and in front of them regarding God, regarding other people and that reflect our attitudes and beliefs. Praying for my son has been vital, but what about praying with him. Reading the Word of God to him. Role modelling forgiveness. I can be quite honest and tell you that this is an area I am working on. I can get anxious quickly and slow to remember that God has this situation under control. In the midst of our trouble is where God’s word brings clarity.. if only I remember to roll model turning to it before reacting.
3) The importance of community. So, it turns out that I can’t do everything on my own. The more I tried, the more I failed. The more opportunities I was given to look up and ask for help. It also turns out that I wasn’t intended to everything on my own. God has given us an amazing family and support system. He’s given me so many people to thank Him for! He is being raised by a village.
I am only halfway done and I have so much left to learn. In some ways I feel like these past almost 9 years have been an uphill battle. Between medical issues, school troubles and financial difficulties I sometimes feel that when I get my feet underneath me they get pulled right back out again. But with each new climb I am discovering more and more about my remarkable child. I often feel like I can’t keep up with his interests and abilities. He is creative, artistic and can problem solve at a remarkable level. He loves stories, and once he finds an author he likes we have to read them all. But I trust God to equip me with the tools he needs to work with these gifts he’s been given. These are the things I will reaffirm in him, and also a reason I am thankful for community, and a reason I will hold onto the promises God has made.
If by chance there is a weary mom, laboring under the decisions you’ve made to protect and guide and instruct your little ones. If you are weighed down and feel like the only one running this race and are totally alone. I want you to remember Matthew 11:28 “Come to me all who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” Remember that there is power in prayer, and strength in community. Hold tight to the promises he has made to us. He will guide us. He will give us peace. It is worth it. We are loved.