Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Building a Strong Mothering Legacy, Part 1

With Mother's Day coming up, I'm evaluating my own mothering and considering what it takes to build a strong mothering legacy. Usually, Mother's Day is for showing appreciation and love for Mom, but it can just as easily be a time for us to evaluate how we're doing, and decide how we might do even better.

A legacy is defined as anything handed down from the past. The main thing mothers hand down is love. In love we patiently kiss booboos and bandaid them--something that will be remembered fondly, as will the cold cloths and kisses we put on fevered heads in the middle of the night.  Love-in-action becomes memory--etched in their minds forever.

For older children it's not so much the bandaids and cold cloths that define a mother's love, but the homecooked meals, special comments, notes, or gifts, and the teen talk sessions we endure and enjoy into the late night.

With each loving act of compassion and patience, our stock as mothers goes up and our children have one more reason to value their own lives and look with confidence upon their futures. Filled up with love, there's nothing to hold them back.

Mom invests her time, and when someone gives us their time--the precious hours and days of their lives--that says we have value. What's a life, really? Isn't it made up of minutes, hours, days, weeks, years, decades? When someone invests all they have in us, we can't help but value our own life and work hard to make it worthwhile.

Each of us, hopefully, has someone in our past who invested their time in us. If not, we're obviously left with scars--but nothing our Heavenly Father can't heal if we lay it at His feet.

If as mothers we truly invest our time, showing love and compassion, our sons will hopefully want to choose a wife who is like us, in terms of her future mothering potential, and our daughters will hopefully look no further than their own childhoods to evolve into wonderful mothers.

We hope and pray this is the case, but to make it reality, we have to engage in self-evaluation. Just loving our children doesn't make us great mothers.

What else is needed to seal the great-mother deal? After all, what mother doesn't get up in the middle of the night to tend to her sick children? What mother isn't forthcoming with kisses and bandaids when the blood flows? What mother would ignore a teen who obviously needs to talk?

There are certainly qualities beyond these that make a mother exceptional. But what might they be?

We all might come up with a different list, but....

...I think a great mother also has exemplary attitudes.

Yes, they will remember our loving care, but won't they also remember our complaining, our bitterness over the hard work, our yelling over the clean clothes thrown on the floor (again)?

No one is without blemish and mothers can get downright exhausted quickly, leading to less than godly responses. Children certainly give us room to be human--being very forgiving--but they also take note of our attitudes over time.

I've considered two wrong attitudes that will stain our mothering legacy. I want to eradicate them in my life, and I bet you do too.

1. Expecting children to know better.

2. Resenting the hard work involved in mothering.

In this post, I elaborate on number 1...Expecting Children to Know Better. Later this week, we'll get to number 2.

My son Peter is 13 years old. There were many times over the years I wondered if he would ever mature, but now, four months after his 13th birthday, I'm daily seeing signs of a godly manhood evolving. He sees ways in which I need help and he willingly puts aside his plans to step up to the plate. In the past, hoping his brother or dad would help, he selfishly pursued his own agenda.

He looks protectively upon his sisters--both in regard to their physical and spiritual safety. He'll gently remind them to resolve their differences amicably, for the glory of God. He'll call them out when they complain and stomp their feet over a parent's unwanted directions, such as to stop sewing and brush teeth for bed.

He'll recognize his own ungodly attitudes quickly, and apologize now, not later, with a heartfelt repentence.

He'll bravely share Christ with neighbor children, pray with neighbor children over backyard baseball games, and remind neighbors to love their siblings when sibling bickering occurs here. He'll pray for them at night and wonder what else he can do to help them along spiritually.

And all this without any prompting from me. It's God, working through Peter, who is responding to the command to make disciples of all nations (and neighborhoods). Somehow, the neighbors keep coming, despite the young evangelist who lives here. They want to listen to Peter, who commands their respect.

What has all Peter's recent growth reminded me of? That children are a work in progress. I don't know that I remembered that enough all these years. I don't know that I would have believed you, two years ago, if you described for me what my son would be like today. He's a wonderful young man and I didn't see that coming.

Shame on me.

Of course children throw clean, rejected clothes onto the floor--they're only children! Of course they leave out their craft supplies and their bikes and spit toothpaste gobs into the sink....and then leave them.

They're. only. children.

What did I expect, I wonder? That they would show an understanding of my hard laundry work, when they're so busy trying to learn and grow each day themselves? Growing up is hard work.

They are no more guilty of disregarding our hard work, than we are of theirs.

1. A great mother respects her children's learning curves. She loves her children where they're at now.

2. A great mother expects her children to shine one day, despite the childishness of today. She sees potential.

3. A great mother praises efforts, not just outcomes.

4. A great mother prays for her children, more than she preaches at them.

What would you add about giving our children room to grow in peace? What do you think makes a mother stand out as exceptional?

Next time, we'll discuss a mother's attitude about the hard work she does.

Hoping your Mother's Day is sweet...full of kisses and hugs and picked flowers and pretty pictures.

Read Part 2 here.


multicolouredsmartypants.com said...

I am struggling with feelings of being a bad mother (related to EMDR) but God has been reassuring me, and again He reassures me through your blog. Thank you, Jesus.
Of course we can all improve, but making mistakes is not the unforgivable sin that the enemy would have us believe (especially those of us who are trying to avoid the abuse of our own childhood). I'd hazard a guess you know what I mean.
I need to give my struggles over to the Lord more and trust Him more with my children. I'm a little 'precious' when it comes to them...
Thank you again, Christine.
Sandy x

Christine said...

We all struggle with these feelings when something painful is happening for us personally. I agree that we can and should trust God with our children. Believing that it all depends on us and our strength will always sidetrack us and lead us to despair. Praise God for his mercies every day!

Tesha Papik said...

Wow this is a really wonderful post!!! Exactly the reminder I need today. I saw the same thing happen with my oldest around 14 and it is so beautiful to behold! My jesse is 13 right now and struggling with selfishness (but to be fair he holds a lot of family responsibility) I know one day soon he will turn the corner and become motivated inwardly instead of by my prompting. This reminded me to love him where he is- thank you😉